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britguy

Posts: 712
Joined: Dec. 26 2010
From: Ontario, Canada

Protruding frets? 

I take very good care of my guitars. I keep them is a separate enclosed room, humidified to 40%, with a humidifier on a timer.

But recently I've noticed that several of them have sharp edges of the frets sticking out from the fingerboard; not just the odd one, but most of them? And on both sides of the fingerboard!

It's not a lot, but enough to feel when running my thumb up and down the edge of the fingerboard. It's difficult for me to believe it's caused by lack of moisture, but , who knows???

The guitars (5) range in age from 2006 - 2011 and are all custom-built quality instruments.

Question is: should I have a luthier trim the frets, or jut leave them and hope the conditon stabilizes in the Spring?

Any advice from the pro's?

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Fruit farmer, Ontario, Canada
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 14:10:28
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

If it annoys you have the frets ends filed, it's a simple job. Otherwise just wait for the humidity to go up a little and it will correct itself. When we lived in town we had customers requesting this constantly during the winter, usually we included a good fingerboard cleaning and checked for uneven frets as part of the job.

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John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 14:40:58
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Back in Boston

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

brit guy--what you describe is shrinkage (not the seinfeld type though). i bought a guitar that live in utah and had the problem and once humidified over several weeks the problem was resolved. if most of your guitars are suffering from this condition i would suspect it is lack of humidity to the fretboard. i use an in the guitar body humifier and a humidifier under the fretboard in my case--and a room humidifier. winter can be brutal to our guitars--another reason i am not in favor of oiling a fretboard before winter (oil repels water).

that said, if you decide to do the procedure take it to a luthier.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 14:41:33
 
britguy

Posts: 712
Joined: Dec. 26 2010
From: Ontario, Canada

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to keith

quote:

i am not in favor of oiling a fretboard before winter (oil repels water).


Jesus; I never thought of that! Good point, Keith!

I oil my fingerboards liberally each time I change the strings (every 2-3 months on average). My string changes always include cleaning and polishing the whole instrument, plus cleaning and oiling the fingerboard. And I tend to be a bit generous with the lemon oil. . .

Maybe this is aggravating the problem?

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Fruit farmer, Ontario, Canada
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 14:56:20
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

It usually happens around this time of year in cold dry climates in well heated houses
Its a simple job for a luthier to deal with this, and it will only need to be done once. So I'd recommend you have all your guitars done.

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Kevin Richards

http://www.facebook.com/#!/kevin.richards.1048554
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 17:32:19
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Back in Boston

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

britguy--you might try and clean off the oil (i am not sure if you should a solvent--better let someone more familiar with solvents and fretboards make that call) and hydrate well for a few weeks and see what happens. it took about 6 weeks for my utah guitar to normalize and it "grew" about 1 mm.

as krichards said, the job is simple job for a luthier.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 17:43:13
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to keith

quote:

ORIGINAL: keith

brit guy--what you describe is shrinkage (not the seinfeld type though). i bought a guitar that live in utah and had the problem and once humidified over several weeks the problem was resolved. if most of your guitars are suffering from this condition i would suspect it is lack of humidity to the fretboard. i use an in the guitar body humifier and a humidifier under the fretboard in my case--and a room humidifier. winter can be brutal to our guitars--another reason i am not in favor of oiling a fretboard before winter (oil repels water).

that said, if you decide to do the procedure take it to a luthier.

Keith,
While I agree with using humidification in very dry weather I question your statement about oil repelling water. It strikes me that if oiling the fingerboard blocks moisture from entering the wood then it would also block moisture from exiting the wood. Britguy oils his fingerboards assiduously and yet they are still shrinking doesn't that imply that the oil is not working as sealant?

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John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 18:06:54
 
britguy

Posts: 712
Joined: Dec. 26 2010
From: Ontario, Canada

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to keith

quote:

it took about 6 weeks for my utah guitar to normalize and it "grew" about 1 mm.




One whole mm?. That seems like a hell of a lot over the average fingerboard width. (+/- 1/50th?).

Did you experience any other distortion of the fingerboard?

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Fruit farmer, Ontario, Canada
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 20:05:17
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Back in Boston

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to jshelton5040

john, my theory is that moisture will exit the fretboard in the winter given our humidity issues and oil is not a perfect sealant to keep moisture from exiting but it can block moisture from getting into the fretboard. i figure in the winter time i would not want to inhibit moisture from getting into the wood.

i think i may get a piece of ebony or rosewood and experiment to see how wood reacts to being oiled or not oiled and moisture content at the end of winter.

britguy--the increase, about 1mm or thereabouts, was enough to neutralize the ends of the frets that were protruding--that is, no filing necessary. i have not noticed any distortion over the year and a half i have owned the guitar
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 20:56:56
 
n85ae

 

Posts: 877
Joined: Sep. 7 2006
 

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

I have had this happen with my guitars, so a few years ago I started taking
kitchen sponges and filling them with water, then squeezing out the excess and
put them in plastic sandwich bags which are left open and I put in the case under
the headstock. The sponge seems to evaporate water slowly enough to keep the
guitars in good shape. I reload the sponges every couple weeks.

To answer specifically - Does this help the fret end problem - Yes it does.

I live in Chicago, and have forced air heat and no humidification in the house so
yes, it's dry here in the winter.

The sponge method works well, and is a LOT cheaper then commercial case
humidifiers.

Regards,
Jeff
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 12 2014 23:10:29
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

First thing to do is check your measuring gear to be sure that the 40% you are maintaining is actually 40% and not 35 0r 30.
A lot of gear is not accurate.
Most modern builders with climate control will build at 45-50% for critical operations but that may not have included fret dressing so 40 is probably low anyhow
Just have the fret ends dressed now while humidity is low and it will be fine.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 2:16:05
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3435
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

quote:

ORIGINAL: britguy

And I tend to be a bit generous with the lemon oil. . .

Maybe this is aggravating the problem?



Why put oil on the fretboard? I haven't done it for at least 20 years, and there has been no visible ill effect. About every 3rd or 4th string change I clean the fretboard and polish the frets with the very finest grade of steel wool. Guitars seem OK.

On the other hand, why would a good soaking with oil let the water out, but keep it from getting back in?

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 3:05:28
 
britguy

Posts: 712
Joined: Dec. 26 2010
From: Ontario, Canada

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to Jeff Highland

quote:

be sure that the 40% you are maintaining is actually 40% and not 35 0r 30


Actually I was wondering about that myself. Temp and Hygro measurement is with a Radio Shack Temp/Hygro meter (Maybe about thirty bucks?).

The guitar storage room (unused bathroom) is only abut 6 feet by 8 feet, and humidified with an ultrasonic Cool Mist humidifier, running 12 hours on and 12 off.

The humidity level seem to vary between about 32%- 42% day to day.

Just how critical is the actual level, and is it better to err on the high side?
For some reason (?) I always understood that guitars sounded better when slightly 'dry'?

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Fruit farmer, Ontario, Canada
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 14:23:08
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

The best way to deal with humidity is to use a humidifier/dehumidifier with built-in humidistat. That way you can set an upper or lower limit and just forget about it.

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Kevin Richards

http://www.facebook.com/#!/kevin.richards.1048554
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 16:50:50
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1691
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

Maybe check your hygrometer.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 17:25:59
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

quote:

ORIGINAL: britguy


The humidity level seem to vary between about 32%- 42% day to day.

Just how critical is the actual level, and is it better to err on the high side?
For some reason (?) I always understood that guitars sounded better when slightly 'dry'?

I should think 32% is too low. Most builders try to maintain a humidity in the shop of around 45%. Lately our shop has slipped into the low 40's occasionally but the weather has been exceptionally cold and dry. We have three humidity gauges spread around the assembly area.

Humidity does affect the sound of a guitar. In my opinion high humidity favors cedar and low favors spruce.

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John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 18:19:30
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

At the moment the guitars are telling you one thing for certain-

Their current climate is significantly drier than when the frets were trimmed during building.
Trim them now, while they are protruding and that is no longer an issue

Ebony is quite an unstable wood and can shrink a lot especially across the grain. I once had an old Banjo which had a 1mm wide ledge each side of the fretboard.

Of more concern is keeping the guitars in an environment much drier than when bracing was installed.
That is THE risk factor for cracks in the back and soundboard. Yours have survived your current storage environment, but it would be good to confirm what that is and avoid going lower.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 18:56:41
 
britguy

Posts: 712
Joined: Dec. 26 2010
From: Ontario, Canada

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to Jeff Highland

quote:

Of more concern is keeping the guitars in an environment much drier than when bracing was installed.
That is THE risk factor for cracks in the back and soundboard


Much drier, Jeff?

Don't quite understand, can you elaborate a bit?

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Fruit farmer, Ontario, Canada
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 20:51:25
 
Jeff Highland

 

Posts: 401
Joined: Mar. 5 2010
From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

When we build guitars, we violate one of the rules of cabinetmaking which is
Don't glue a brace across the grain of a panel because cross grain shrinkage is many times that of long grain shrinkage

Pieces like back braces, upper and lower harmonic bars and closing bars, and bridges are glued to the soundboard and back plate in wilful disregard of this principle

I can't tell you an exact figure because I don't know what RH your guitars were constructed at, but certainly 35% is getting into the danger zone and the fretboard shrinkage is a major warning sign.

It is not unknown for Digital Hygrometers to be vastly inaccurate and if your 40% is really 30%.............
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 13 2014 21:18:40
 
Emil_Krasich

 

Posts: 17
Joined: Jan. 10 2014
From: Massachusetts

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to britguy

I've been having this same problem on my Negra Manzanero for about 3 years (guitar was built in 1993 out of 50+ year old aged woods). Always kept a sound-hole humidier and drilled out soap dish with a wet sponge under the headstalk in the case. Winters are brutal in New England though. Largely goes away in the summer time, but I think I'll take folks' suggestions here and get the edges filed. I have also been toying with the idea of taller frets for easier note accuracy.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2014 12:26:28
 
keith

Posts: 1108
Joined: Sep. 29 2009
From: Back in Boston

RE: Protruding frets? (in reply to Emil_Krasich

ethan's suggestion to check the hygrometer(s) is a good one as one can determine the accuracy of the hygrometer. the damp salt in a ziplock bag is a good test that does not cost anything. once you determine the accuracy one can then calibrate the hygrometer--either mechanically if possible or via post-it note; that is, if the hygrometer if off by 5 points then stick a post-it note next to it to remind you it is off by 5 points. as i understand it hygrometers can wildly vary in a given range so the above test may not be the end all of testing. at least it gives you an idea.

one thing i do for humidity control, for both not enough and too much, is to use the internal compartment box in the case, with the top removed, to house a humidifying device in the winter when the humidity is low or an eva-dry in the summer when the humidity is high. i remove the lid as i am not using the box to store strings and want that area to house a humidity control device. i have had good luck with this--a humidity pod under the fretboard and a humidity tube for inside the guitar. many abs cases allow for the lid to be pulled out. wooden cases will require a knife to remove the lid--it is permanent surgery.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2014 13:02:48
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