Fret Leveling

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by 33db, Nov 22, 2021.

  1. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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    I have never attempted this but an MIM I have needs some fret work done.
    Stewmac is too expensive, anyone know where to get reasonably prices block sanders and fret crowning files?
     
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  2. _JDZ_

    _JDZ_ Strat-Talker

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  3. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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  4. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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    Thanks you, like a 1/3 the price of scroogemac.
     
  5. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Do as @Ronkirn says and go to a counter top maker and ask for a scrap piece of marble splash or go to the local Home Depot/Lowes and get one cheap. cut your sandpaper to fit the edge and you have a perfect leveling beam.
     
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  6. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music.

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    I grabbed a couple cheapo tools off amazon that work ok.

    The fret crowner is where I'd spend more. The one I have does work but, just ok.
     
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  7. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

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    Nothing wrong with a knife sharpening stone!
     
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  8. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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    I bought a bunch of stuff from the Philly place, appreciate the tips.
    Got a sanding block, crowning file, 2 types of sandpaper, already have masking tape and a marker.

    Still need a method of polishing the frets when I'm done, dremel with polishing wheel?
     
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  9. henderman

    henderman Dr. Stratster

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    i always fear overheating with a dremel will move/warp/distort the freshly leveled frets so i just use metal paste polish, a t shirt and elbow grease.
     
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  10. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    I am almost embarrassed to admit, that this is the one thing I need so rarely (and demand near perfection) that I just pay a really good craftsman to do. I haven't bought nor built a guitar in about 8 years and paid about $100-$120 for each of my four electrics to be leveled.

    Now, if I regularly bought or traded instruments, I'd buy tools and learn to do it myself. But I've spent around $420 over the last 42 years for my levels, which equates to 83 cents a month. The bonus, from my point of view, is that I didn't spend any time, money on tools, nor (drum roll) screw one up.

    But part of me still wants to level one myself. I'll borrow someone else's guitar to try it on.
     
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  11. soulman969

    soulman969 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Nope. Too much work and expense. Use Gorgomyte.
     
  12. 33db

    33db Senior Stratmaster

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    That's why I'm doing it on an MIM I never play:D
     
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  13. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm going to suggest that you need more grits of sandpaper. I don't know where you're starting (how uneven your frets are), but wherever I start on this scale, I run through the whole selection. Each paper after the first is intended only to remove the scratches from the previous paper (although they all cut a little bit).

    A photo of your fretboard with the strings off would help people here advise on that.

    240, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 - you can get packs of 4 or 5 grades of assorted paper at Autozone or Advance Auto.

    I go to auto polishing compounds after that. Old school rubbing compound is just above 1500; polishing compound is about 2000. The turtle wax variety works.

    Watch several (as in three or more) youtube videos on fret leveling.
     
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  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Most Honored Senior Member

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    .

    Look for the Ron Kirn 'how to level yer Tele' thread on here and/or TDPRI forum. Complete How To plus tool list.


    You can use a 6 inch file (one without a handle) that runs around $5 at Home Depot to level with, and a small set of $3 rat files from Harbor Freight (pull out the triangle or flat file and grind and polish the edges smooth) for the crowning file. Then a few high grit sand papers from the automotive store to smooth and polish (600, 800, 1500). You will have a practical guitar level that takes around 45 minutes and will make a Squier or beat up MIM into a Custom Shop player. If you are chasing Instagram-grade polishing then you got yourself into a much longer project.

    Those tools will move your '50% good' guitar up to around '85% good' playability. You can get the granite strips and fancier crowning files that will get you to '90% good'. To get up to '98% good' you'll need a system that tensions the neck just like the strings do because a neck does not bend smoothly like a bow and arrow because the headstock rotates around the nut pressure point and the heel of the neck is chunky for another odd bend. Neck tensioning systems include the 'Vinson jig' plans you build or the $500 'stewmac jig' or the '$95,000 Plek' machine. Or the $12 Sam Deeks system using a guitar truss rod.

     
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  15. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    I've never had any issues with fret warpage or lifting using a Dremel. I use an emery wheel then a polish pad and they end up like these.
    Stainless:
    20210225_203030.jpg 20210225_203034.jpg
    Nickel
    20191028_191056.jpg
    20191028_191051.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
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  16. henderman

    henderman Dr. Stratster

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    @Believer7713

    those look real good. i have the dremel impregnated wheels and they do work amazing.

    but i made a fret so hot it burned my finger so i figured i was overdoing it and stopped using them...

    i should probably just go over them lightly a few times instead of trying to start it on fire by trying to give a fret a mirror finish in one shot !
     
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  17. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Just work on three or four at a time, spreading the heat among them. One pass on one, move to the next and make a pass on it, etc.
     
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  18. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    They burn me too. I just learned to not touch them anymore. Lol
     
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  19. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

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    Hand polish with a rag up to a 2000 compound. Only use a Dremel for a super fine compound over 2500. You shouldn't be doing more than a quick buff with a Dremel.
     
  20. Fenderbaum

    Fenderbaum Strat-O-Master

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    Good stuff..