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Polishing frets on new guitar

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by axejock, Sep 13, 2019 at 5:09 PM.

  1. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    I know this is a frequent topic here, but I have a new guitar that has "roughness" on the fret tops that I can't feel with my fingers but can feel when doing bends on the E, B, and G strings. No big deal, but I thought I'd just "touch them up with fine sandpaper but am now wondering if I should go the whole route and destring the thing, get fretboard guards, and use the specific compounds that are like a polishing compound with a little grit, followed by a light buffing with a Dremel tool? What do you guys do? I don't want to get any polishing compounds on the fretboard or do more work than necessary, although taking the strings of would provide a good opportunity for a fretboard treatment as well.
     
  2. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

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    Metal polish could be messy, and i don't think a fret guard will keep it from seeping under and onto the board.

    Places like stew mac have different grit "fret erasers" that would probably achieve the results you want, without the metal polish.

    If you do use the dremel and polish, then you'd want to mask off the fretboard with tape.
     
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  3. problem-child

    problem-child Senior Stratmaster

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  4. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    It’s probably a little overkill but I use fine sandpaper (the wet and dry stuff with the black abrasive) usually 400 grit and then use a scotch bright pad and finally a dremel polishing kit I bought recently with a little polishing compound.

    Oh, I’ve got those thin metal fretboard protectors that just expose the fret so it’s a pretty quick job of doing one fret, the. The next and so on.
     
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  5. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    Those are good suggestions. I suspect that each method requires string removal in order to have clear access to the frets? (I'm cheap and hate to replace newer strings, but these are on a "lower end" guitar and probably should be upgraded anyway). Funny how these frets look well dressed and the only way to see that they are a bit "rough" is to bend a small diameter string on them or look at them with a magnifying glass! It's really like they forgot to do the final fret polishing during assembly. The ends are all well dressed and nearly perfect, so it's odd that they would let a small polishing job slip by. Again, no big deal as I enjoy this sort of work!
     
  6. BuddhaFingas

    BuddhaFingas Strat-Talker

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    I've never polished frets (yet) but I've spent many years with dremel tools & polishing various metals.
    They spin so fast (generally 10k rpm) that it's painfully easy to take off more material than you want, and they are also fairly easy to lose control of.
    If you haven't used one before, I'd caution practice on well-clamped scrap materials. Eye protection always with those buggers, too.

    PS, the generally small diameter of the polishing wheels can make getting surfaces flat a real skill, too.
     
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  7. Heavyriff

    Heavyriff Strat-Talker

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    400 grit paper on the frets and F-one oil on the fretboard if it is rosewood etc. Not a maple with a finish.
     
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  8. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    I switched to coconut oil on rosewood or Pau fretboards. It doesn’t decompose like other organics and it’s non toxic. I do the nut and the board if it’s thirsty after a good clean.
     
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  9. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

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    If they're so-called nickel silver frets, I don't bother. Fret wear will take care of slight roughness in a couple hours of playing. The stainless frets on my recently bought custom neck are a different story though!
     
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  10. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

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    400 grit? Is that a bit rough? I use 2k grit and can take small divots out.
     
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  11. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    I like the "play it for a while and it will polish itself" approach the best! It is so slight that it just might work. The worst thing that could happen is that the string will wear out early? But that's OK as I will be changing them out soon and any rough spots on the frets should then be more visible! But I'm also going to order a set of those Stew Mac abrasive "erasers"!
     
  12. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

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    I doubt that the strings will wear out early unless the frets are stainless, and even then music wire is some amazingly hard and tough stuff. The usual type frets are a lot softer than the G, B, and e strings.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 9:57 PM
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  13. Believer7713

    Believer7713 Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

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    Here's what I use to polish my frets.
    [​IMG]
    They look loke this
    [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
     
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  14. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    Where did you find the little "fret dressing" wheel (thin and concave) for your Dremel or rotary device. Looks like it does a remarkable job! (I have a very nice Dremel).
     
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  15. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

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    It looks like an extra fine Cratex wheel that's been dressed to be fret-shaped.
     
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  16. strattopper

    strattopper Strat-Talker

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    I never have... I just play them a lot... Lol..
     
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  17. Tone Deaf

    Tone Deaf Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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  18. jaxjaxon

    jaxjaxon Strat-Talker

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    use mineral oil and a cloth.
     
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  19. Believer7713

    Believer7713 Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

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    It's a Dremel 425 polishing wheel. They do not start out concaved like the one on my Dremel...that's due to use. They start out like this.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    They have a diamond abrasive in them so it only takes a light touch and you need to be consistant with your movement alont the length of the frets. I also use them to do round-overs on the ends of the frets when I do a refret. I can't remember the last time I used an angle file on the fret ends because I started doing them this way. Much more fret to bend the strings on and more comfortable against the fingers.

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
     
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  20. axejock

    axejock Senior Stratmaster

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    I ordered a Stew Mac cleaning and polishing kit for frets tonight. It has 7 erasers with different grits, fret protectors, a couple of what look like files, etc.....reasonably priced! I have decided that doing a little of this type of work up front with a new, high quality string set is worth the time and effort. The guitar is actually a special edition Squire Affinity Telecaster HH in Metallic Orange and all black hardware....it really is a knockout looking axe. This is very first Squire that I have ever bought, and the receiving inspection and subsequent function tests were amazing for such a low cost guitar! It was even almost in tune! These rough frets are the only flaw that I have found,,,actually I am quite surprised! This little "fix it right" effort will give me a chance to oil the fretboard that is made of "Indian Laurel" (that is a dark, dense wood and feels quite good) and then to install some new DiAddario 9-42 strings on it. This squire could easily do duty as a backup guitar, but that is not what I bought it for.
     
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