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Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

Fret leveling 

I levelled and dressed my frets at the start of lockdown.

I've noticed recently, some funny buzzing. So I just checked my frets and they are rather uneven again. Not as many as before but enough to be a job

Is that normal that things change like that over a short time? And what causes it? Changes in moisture? Heat?

I plan to level again asap. But should I be expecting to have similar issues in a few more months?

Thanks very much
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 29 2020 21:30:32
 
mt1007

Posts: 139
Joined: Jan. 19 2011
 

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

quote:

ORIGINAL: Stu

I levelled and dressed my frets at the start of lockdown.

I've noticed recently, some funny buzzing. So I just checked my frets and they are rather uneven again. Not as many as before but enough to be a job

Is that normal that things change like that over a short time? And what causes it? Changes in moisture? Heat?

I plan to level again asap. But should I be expecting to have similar issues in a few more months?

Thanks very much


I'm no luthier, but if done correctly you shouldn't have to level and crown your frets again. Maybe your leveling job was off? Are you getting back buzz? If thats the case could just be that nut is to low?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 2:46:43
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 882
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

Is it a new guitar? I've found the frets will require a very minor adjustment after a while as the fingerboard shrinks. I usually try and get my guitar backs after a year for these minor adjustments.

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 9:16:05
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to mt1007

Hmm. Perhaps I missed some spots then, but I was pretty thorough.

Yeah getting some buzz in specific spots that seem to line up with where I've now found out the frets are high.

Guitar is exactly 5 years old. Although I did have to replace the fret board about year and a half ago. (I think. maybe longer)

Right so I'll go again. Hopefully I'll nail it this time.

Thanks
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 10:42:24
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

How, when spot levelling, does one avoid chasing their tail?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 11:55:05
 
RobF

Posts: 950
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

Hi Stu, if the board is level and the surrounding frets are well seated then you shouldn’t end up chasing your tail unless you go too far. Which is also something to watch for when crowning and doing the final polish.

The frets might have shifted a touch if there were some wide changes in humidity. If it’s really humid now, maybe do a quick check for back bow. Do you have sufficient relief? If it’s dry, perhaps clamp down the problem frets before dressing them and drizzle some CA along them to glue them in. Then dress them.

Also, have a look at the tongue and see how it’s behaving; if it’s rising or looks wonky maybe kiss and dress the frets above the 12th a bit. Bias down towards the soundhole. Sometimes this area gets neglected during an initial setup (often because people get impatient and think it’s of less concern).

Hope that helps. I once had a guitar that just didn’t seem to want to hold its setup. I finally took the frets off, reworked the fingerboard a bit, and refretted using glue. That seemed to solve it, although I never really did fully understand what was causing so much difficulty in the first place.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 13:49:44
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to RobF

Hi Rob thanks.
Yes. I leveled the troublesome frets. Then after crowning and polishing they were clicking again when I tested with rocker!!

I don't really like this job.I've done it a few times now on this and my other guitar. And it's my least favorite. Guess it's the metal. I prefer wood. 😂

I've had to settle for a couple of very tiny clicks. As I just couldn't go on.

Seems to be much less buzz. So I'm happy for now.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 16:28:14
 
JasonM

Posts: 1565
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

I’ve only done it twice myself..and It’s a job alright! We arnt even dealing with stainless fret wire. Could it be that your crowning job is hitting the tops of the frets and throwing off the level slightly?

For spot leveling, I noticed that sometimes all that was needed was few swipes with sandpaper or whatever to get the rocking to stop. Maybe it was like 3 thousandths of an inch...

Stewmac sells that Fret Kisser spot leveler. Would be nice to have $$$ I bought their crowning Z file. Not so sure that it is as magical as they claim, but what do I know. It files the fret in a pyramid shape rather than round, but at least it protects your level job. Then I have to go back and sort of round the frets during the sanding and polishing step.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 30 2020 22:30:48
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to JasonM

Yeah I think maybe I was doing that. I ended up using some 240 wrapped round my crowning file. Think I've done an ok job this time. No nasty buzzes yet.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2020 0:44:46
 
ernandez R

Posts: 354
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to Stu

Stu,
Eight guitars in and I'm still struggling for the perfect fret job. Can't say I've had one go from bad to worse though ;)

Is it one area where the frets are starting to buzz?

A few things I had to learn along the way:

- getting the fret slot just the right width so the frets tap in without bending the fret past its limit of elasticity is vital. Test the fret wire with your fingers to get an idea about how much it will flex before stretching the tang.

- I use a small plastic dead blow hammer taking care to keep the head perfectly parallel with the fretboard face. One blow at a time, rest a second, then again. It's not a race. Helpful to place the hammer head flat in the fretboard then space your body so you can lock your elbow on your side so when you lift the hammer head and swing it hits at the exact place and angle. I adjust my elbow a few times per fret.

-if you bend the fret upwards as you tap it in it will stay in place but work to way up as you play etc. sure a squirt of thin CA might keep it down but in the end I just pulled these out: a lot of them as I learned.

-at my number 7&8 at had my game on. I use a suitable marble slab slightly longer and wider then the fretboard with sticky back sanding paper, I have two, one with 80g and the other with 220. I cross hatch the wood with pencil and sand until all the lines are gone. When I set these two necks I had only to tap a few here and there without leveling the frets at all. Cheated some by using EVO frets and heaver gage.

-I made a tool with two angles that I bolt together with a thin saw blade set for .015" deeper then my fret tang and I chase the previously slotted groves. I feel one needs just enough relief under the fret as I think the fret pushes a little wood down and this can lead to a fret not seating correctly and popping up later. The blade I make is from a hacksaw, around 30 or more teeth per inch I think, that I thin accordingly for the correct fret barb grip. Also find the depth limit of the angles keeps one from cutting too deep on the edges of the fretboard, ya I've done some of that too, and makes for a nice uniform finished look. I feel each fretboard could use more or less of a slot width based on its hardness: make I test cut on some drop off.

-don't use fret wire that comes on a roll. Strait lengths only saved me lots of headaches.

-I set my frets in linseed oil. Can't say if it's better but it seals the slot and binds the fret yet just a little heat and it comes out nicely. Guessing it takes a good six months or more for the linseed to fully harden and might effect tone just a touch but all things considered the whole guitar is settling out for a few months anyway.

- I've yet to have a fret shrink so only a few here and there a little high and fixed with a little tapy tap with the plastic dead blow hammer has fixed the issue.

-a guitar is an organic instrument with dynamic properties as the seasons and playing comes and goes. I'm building 1000gm lightweights so I see feel and hear my guitars change, they get quite when I don't play one for a few weeks but once I get a couple hours of rasgao back into the top they really come alive.

-sure I'm forgetting more then a few details...

HR

_____________________________

I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2020 21:36:14
 
RobF

Posts: 950
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Fret leveling (in reply to ernandez R

quote:

-don't use fret wire that comes on a roll. Strait lengths only saved me lots of headaches

Actually, now that think about it, I originally fretted the guitar that gave me so much grief with frets cut straight off a coil. I started straightening my coiled wire right after that by running it through a fret bender backwards, generally doing that will double or triple the radius of the coil. I like a bit of curve because I like to lightly seat the edges of the fret in the slot first, then tap it down from the middle out. But I remember now I started straightening in part because of that problem guitar and also because I bought a few pounds of coiled EVO-gold wire and I thought it felt stiffer.

Lots of good advice in your post, HR.

When you mention your custom tool with two angles, do mean it’s something to bevel the top of the slots, like a triangular file? I’m trying to picture it.

Using linseed oil is interesting. I have some BLO in a jar somewhere in my storage room but every time I’ve used it I’ve gotten a bad headache, so I avoid the stuff because of that.

I like the little dead blow hammers, too.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2020 21:57:48
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