Thoughts on my 1st fret leveling job

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by valvestate, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. valvestate

    valvestate Strat-Talker

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    It was hard but it was a success! But I think I would be very careful in doing this with more expensive guitar.

    A month ago, I asked the good people here how to do this fret leveling on my cheap Strat https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/...ginners.557333/ling-job-for-beginners.557333/

    I purchased some few tools from Aliexpress.... I figured to just purchase first some cheap tools just to practice.

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    1. I started with putting some painter tape on the fretboard, took some time! ;)
    [​IMG]

    2. Then I used a 6 inches fret level block, which I kinda regretted coz this block is really light and too short. I was hoping that the block has some weight because I did not know if I was putting too much pressure on my frets when I was sanding it.
    [​IMG]

    3. Next task was the sanding of frets which I find was really nerve wracking as a noobie! I can see the sharpee markers fading when I was sanding it but upon checking my fret rocker, I still observed some high frets! I thought, maybe it was the sand paper, not gritty enough. I continued for about 15 - 20 minutes until all the black marks are gone.

    4. Then I did the crowning. I honestly don't know if the crowning file tool I purchased is working but I just followed some YouTube videos to do it sideways motion. This task is is very tedious. The crowning tool also left a black mark inside, how I wished I had those Stewmac tools. :D
    [​IMG]

    5. Next thing I did was polishing the frets. I purchased a multiple grits which I dunno if I made a mistake but I started with very VERY low number! I started with 60CW until I reached 2500! Maybe I should have started at 800? My finger became numb doing this! LOL

    6. Lastly, I used a metal polish to just bring out the shine of the frets!

    I took almost an hour during my break for the whole task. It was not easy as I expected... but is it worth the $150 that I'm being charged for fret levelling? maybe still not... I mean the tools that I used was SUPER duper cheap but I was still able to make it. But I do understand the effort and time to accomplish this task! :cool:

    [​IMG]

    The guitar now really feels good especially when bending, it is now 1.3/ 1.4mm in action from 12 fret which I can like. Absolutely no more nasty fret buzzes!

    Would I perform the same task on my more expensive MIJ and MIA models? Yeah but maybe I should invest in some Stewmac or much more expensive tools. I think I just got lucky that I did not mess up my frets this time! HAHAH ;)

    Thank you very much for all you guys who helped me and gave me guidance! :cool:
     
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  2. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    From what I can see it looks like you pulled it just fine.:thumb: I always start the polishing after crown w/ 220 and finish with 2000, then polishing compound on a cotton dremel wheel.

    Also, $150 isn't a bad price. You are not just paying for time, but also overhead, and the expertise of experience.;)
     
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  3. valvestate

    valvestate Strat-Talker

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    Yeah you have a point especially the time involved in all of these. But a tech even quoted me $20 for each fret! :D:eek:

    I guess I just got lucky that I did not mess anything up but I was about to pull my hair when it was still not levelled even when all the markers are gone!
     
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  4. uncle daddy

    uncle daddy Strat-O-Master

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    I tried one of those cheap crowning files. It was junk compared to the Hosco one.
     
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  5. valvestate

    valvestate Strat-Talker

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    True. I don't think that crowning file will be useful in the long run but I guess I learned how to use it so it's OK.
     
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  6. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Dr. Stratster

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    I just went through this @valvestate, earlier this evening. I wound up with two frets out of about 7 that still had a teeny bit of wobble after I had sanded till the sharpie lines were gone and I had crowned and polished. No buzzes though afterward, and I played the whole neck on all strings.

    I didn’t want to take too much metal off, as I want to get at least one more level and crown out of it in the future, and the frets were in the area that was affected by the truss rod. Once I put the relief back in the neck during set up, there were no problems.

    The guitar has a 7.25 radius fingerboard, and so I set the action on the high side to facilitate bending. I wound up at 6/64 on the low E string and 5/64 on the rest of the strings.

    The guitar in question is my formerly owned (it is now my son’s) 79 hardtail Strat.
    I finished up with some gorgamyte.
    View attachment 4
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Dr. Stratster

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    I tell you, the crowning went a lot faster with a file like you showed in your photos. I used to use a 3 sided file. A lot more work for sure.
     
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  8. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo

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    Z file from stewmac is really worth the price of admission for fast, easy and great crowning.

    A long heavy beam would definitely help too.
     
  9. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    I did my Classic Player 50s the other day too. I still use the triangular file. It takes me about an hour including taking the neck off and putting it back on again. I use 400 grit on an 18" beam for levelling and up to 2000 grit for polishing, followed by metal polish.

    Next job is refretting my ST54.
     
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  10. uncle daddy

    uncle daddy Strat-O-Master

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    When I do this I usually go a bit deeper on the last few frets.
     
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  11. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

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    Thanks for the detailed post!
     
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  12. macoshark

    macoshark Senior Stratmaster

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    Good job. I recommend going to a counter store and asking for a scrap granite piece that's as long as your fretboard and about an inch and a half wide. That will be plenty heavy enough so you do not have to put any pressure. If the shop doesn't have to make any cuts it should be free. I bought the SM crown file and it works fine. I think it was wide/ jumbo, Double-edge Fret File | stewmac.com
    Be sure and sharpie the frets before you crown, leave a thin line on the very top. I wish I could say I have it down but still refining my technique. @Ronkirn recommended using a guitar string at the 12th fret, that's a little higher than the top of the fret for "run off' on the highest frets. I take my necks off to do the L/C. My local body shop supplier has rolls of 350 grit adhesive which I use that was inexpensive.
     
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  13. macoshark

    macoshark Senior Stratmaster

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    I love sarcasm
     
  14. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

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    I wasn't being sarcastic in the least. My comment was directed at the OP. There weren't any intervening posts that I saw by the time I got around to reading that tab, so I didn't quote it.

    The more I see of people tackling this for the first time, the better I feel about attempting it myself, and the more perspective I gain on what issues and/or problems I might run into.

    In addition, those types of posts usually draw they types of helpful comments you, and others made which only add to the knowledge base.
     
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  15. Chont

    Chont Most Honored Senior Member

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    nicely done!!!

    I love seeing people learning how to do this type of work themselves. Its very rewarding to do your own work and get to know your instrument(s) inside and out.
     
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  16. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Senior Stratmaster

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    It can save boat loads of $$$ too! Unless one really messes up. Even then, its only the price of a good re-fret by a pro for the sad learning experience! :eek: Pretty easy to do, as long as one doesn't skip or ignore any of the steps and/or widely available tips and advice. ;) I'm lucky in that my necks tend to have perfect for me relief when under tension, with a 0.009 -0.046 string set and when strings are off, the necks end "up dead nuts on" straight! This often helps avoid even having to do any truss rod adjustments. :cool:
    Just Frettin'
    Gene
     
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  17. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    Great job !! I kind of wish I would have learned when I was younger, much poorer and had guitars not worth much.

    At my age, it is easier to just pay the $100-$125 when I get a new guitar. Last one I bought was 2001, so it's not like I'm spending a lot of money. But I will say that I've had it done to every electric guitar I own, even U.S. PRS and G&L, and it makes a real difference.
     
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  18. macoshark

    macoshark Senior Stratmaster

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    Right- but it's good sarcasm if it was directed at uncle daddy, right? No? Anyway, these are good feedback on the Level and crown quest. I use my granite sanding piece as a straight edge when attempting to bring my neck dead straight. Using a feeler gauge to help in feedback. If I turn the TR too much the granite spins from the middle of the neck since that's the high point. Otherwise, if both ends of the neck frets are touching the level and most of the middle frets then I figure I'm good to go.
     
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  19. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

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    Yeah, I just wanted to make it clear that it wasn't directed at him.. I didn't notice it read that way till I saw your, (and everyone else's) posts. I only saw the OP's post when replied. This happens because I open a lot of tabs as I check the list of threads and then open them as I get time to read and post. My bad....
     
  20. valvestate

    valvestate Strat-Talker

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    Thank you maco! I did put some markers on top. ;) I got nervous though when the markers are already gone but there were still uneven frets! :eek: LOL

    Indeed, it was very rewarding knowing that it is very doable even with very cheap tools! :cool: