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Best way to roll fretboard edges?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by flying, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. flying

    flying Tele-Meister

    Jul 2, 2003
    Just curious if anyone has done this how did you do it?
    It does not seem like it would be too hard but I wondered what you used to keep it consistent? Perhaps the shaping sanding block? The one that looks like a deck of cards?

    I would love to roll something this nice....
    Thanks for any tips!


  2. Feral Hymns

    Feral Hymns Tele-Holic

    Sep 19, 2005
    I just used the shaft of a screw driver, I think a few people around here have done that, kind of dirty but it works.

  3. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    But...what about the frets? How do you roll them after they're fretted?

    I really want to know. I've got some old necks that are rolled and they're nice.

  4. Feral Hymns

    Feral Hymns Tele-Holic

    Sep 19, 2005
    Yeah that's the only problem with the screw driver method. As far as I know there's really no good way to do it after it's fretted. Using a screw driver gives it almost a scalloped look but it does the job in a pinch. I'm sure someone around here will be able to help more. I know it's been talked about in the Telecaster forums a few times, that's where I picked up the screw driver trick.

  5. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    I don't like "rolled fretboard edges" because to do it properly you need to file the fret ends at an angle ("Fender fret end roll") and that greatly diminishes the effective playing area of the fretboard, IMHO. And that's how to do it - use a fret file to chamfer both the fret and fretboard edges at an angle, finishing up with abrasive grits for the actual rounding. Afterwards, the fret ends need to be dressed and then polished with abrasive and/or MicroMesh.

  6. weelie

    weelie Friend of Leo's

    I really like the rolled edges feel. Like on on AmSer or one Allparts tele neck I had, which was finished by Mr. Rob DiStefano himself. But when I asked my tech to do it on my strat, he said it can only be done properly with a fret change. So... I guess I'll just have wear the neck or the frets. :( So back to the 'shedding. :)

  7. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    NJ via TX
    Utter nonsense! Read my post above - it doesn't matter whether frets are new or old, "rolling" is all about reshaping and that needs to be done - er, should be done - whilst the frets are stuck on the fretboard. Tell yer tech to roll yer fingerboard NOW. :rolleyes:
    montemerrick likes this.

  8. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 15, 2005
    Chicago 'Burbs
    I roll every fretboard I get my hands on, and my customers love the feel. Ya do it with the frets on. It's the only way it can be done properly.
    Irishluck22 likes this.

  9. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    I think there are 2 shades of the same color being discussed here.
    One is rolling the edges to...well...make the fingerboard feel like the edges are rolled. I suppose this would be best accomplished without frets.
    The second (that I recently did) is sanding (or pushing the wood down with a cylindrical object) between the frets, which, for me, makes a new neck feel more comfortable in my hand, like the old ones I'm accustomed to...that slightly "scalloped" feel.
    Rob D. recently re-fretted my 35+ year old neck, and he had to chamfer the ends of the frets more than he would have liked (judging by the above post) because the edges are so worn.
    My new Mexicaster can have less chamfer (more playing area) and rolled edges.
    It feels nice.
    Archey likes this.

  10. T-bone Tone

    T-bone Tone Banned

    Jan 8, 2004
    Newcastle, England
    Well, it is true that dressing the fret ends in line with the 'rolled' neck wood edging, does reduce the fret playing surface. BUT....

    a) I have an old Hofner jazz guitar that has the thinest width neck, and heavily rolled neck edges. Perhaps too much 'violin=type' construction thinking still going on with whoever made this guitar back in the late fifties! But it can be played. If THAT can be played, then anthing is possible!

    b) I have a 65 stratocaster that is naturally rolled over ,real nice, but the rosewood fingerboard has shrunk, slightly, between the frets, giving that scalloped feel, which has got worse in the last 5 years or so. I am going to have to dress the frets, carefully, because I do not like that scalloped feel at all. It is now starting to noticeably resist the smoothness when I slide up and down the neck.

    Yeah, I will have to watch I don't take the E strings over the edge of the fingerboard, but - to be frank - even some new stratocasters can easily do this. There is no comparison, though, in playing comfort, once one is used to a nice, rolled off neck, so sometimes in life a trade off has to be accepted.

  11. weelie

    weelie Friend of Leo's

    Yes, I figured as much. And actually I thought about having SOMEBODY ELSE do it. :D

  12. guitarzan13

    guitarzan13 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 25, 2006
    LaGrange, GA
    I was thinking about doing this to the Lite Ash neck on my #1 partscaster......Do you guys have any more opinions on methods???

  13. Tdot

    Tdot Poster Extraordinaire

    I've done several and they turned out very nice. I used the screwdriver shaft first, it worked fine but the metal leaves dirty marks on maple. On others I used the plastic handle of a small screwdriver, and hard plastic pens.

    It's easy to do, just takes a bit of time and patience. Start with light pressure, and make strokes like you're whittling a piece of wood.

  14. Detman101

    Detman101 Banned

    Mar 3, 2009
    Frederick, MD
    Going to try this on my replacement rosewood tele neck before I mount it.
    My squier 51 neck came with the edges rolled but the fret ends are chopping up my inner thumb (Hendrix style).

    If I can roll the edges of the new neck and dremel down the fret ends as well at the same time I'm golden. And if I muck it up I'm only out $75 dollars and still have my main neck to play....until I can save up for an allparts FAT neck.


  15. TNTales

    TNTales Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2010
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    If I understand this right you just use the blunt end of a screwdriver (the handle) and run it up and down the neck until it feels nice and round, yes?

  16. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    There's going to be a lot of mauled necks here.

    Seriously guys, the proper way to do this is to remove the neck and take the edge off with a big file.

    It you simply crush the wood between the frets with a screwdriver you're going to have a scalloped neck that may not feel good to you. It will not be smooth any more. Some say they like it and I suppose that's their choice.

    I've played a couple that people did and didn't care for the way the screwdriver shaft crushed the wood between the frets while leaving the fret ends sticking out. It felt scalloped and further exacerbated the effects of fret sprout in the winter months.

    Some claim to like it and I can't argue that. But I would give it some careful thought before doing this with a screwdriver shaft. It will not be smooth and that's how I happen to like my necks.

  17. tele-martini

    tele-martini Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 26, 2006
    Hilton, NY
    I just posted a thread on this asking the same question a short time back. Understanding your concern for just crushing the wood between frets. My intial concern was going to be how much wood would move with a hard maple neck. I used an 11/16" Deep well socket on two different necks and it actually did the trick. I was surprised how easily the wood moved so it only took minutes and feels much better now. one of the necks also required a little work on the frets themselves. Took a very smooth jewlers file and just lightly buffed the fret edges on the top side of neck since I'm a right handed player. Note these were low end Squire Teles and buying a new neck would cost almost as much as the guitar. I'm pleased with the results and play them both a lot more now.

  18. Post Toastie

    Post Toastie Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 16, 2008
    My fender road Worn Strat came with rolled edges, i think they all do. It feels great but the rosewood(60s model) looks a little scalloped. Maybe they did it this way so they didnt have to spend too much time on the metal frets, but i like the feel alot.

  19. frogger

    frogger Tele-Holic

    May 10, 2003
    Lincoln Nebraska
    There is nothing worse than sharp fret board edges on any guitar. This is one area many guitar manufacturers need to improve on. I do my own work using 0000 steel wool, really careful on the angle, 800 grit sandpaper and lots of patients. After the edges are just right I clean with a high quality lemon oil and polish the frets with a fine grain leather strip. smooth as silk to the hand and gives the neck a real broken in feel.

  20. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    There's nothing like the feel of a rolled edge when the wood and frets are perfectly straight and the fret ends have been dressed. It's so smooth and feels so refined that it's hard to go back to rough edges.

    Invest the time and effort to remove the neck and use a file. The resulting edge, all perfect, straight and smooth is a joy to play!

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