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Fret end dressing the stupidly simple way

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by xardoz, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. xardoz

    xardoz Tele-Meister

    Apr 21, 2010
    St. Louis, Misery
    I don't know if anyone else has posted about this here, but it worked for me so I thought I'd share it.

    I'm working on my first two fretboards, both really practice pieces for me to learn on. On one of them, I rolled the top edges too far, which I didn't really get the importance of until I had to dress the ends and it all went cockeyed. Google turned up this, and it works. Yes, it tore up my sanding sponges, but they're disposable anyway.

    I was so pleased with the result that I used the sponges on the other fretboard, which I hadn't screwed up, and it smoothed them out nicely, too.

    No, it's probably not as nice as a well-done pro job, but for a beginner amateur, it does the job.

    It's the last step on this page:

    Here's the relevant section:
  2. PinewoodRo

    PinewoodRo Tele-Afflicted

    Those are some pretty colourful inlays!
    Thanks for the tip.
  3. xardoz

    xardoz Tele-Meister

    Apr 21, 2010
    St. Louis, Misery
    Yeah, those inlays are not my cuppa tea at all, but different strokes, etc.
  4. Forum Sponsor Sponsored posting


    DTPBUSCHPILOT Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 21, 2010
    McKinney, TX
    Who cares about the inlays, I see you didnt mask off the fret board. Did you sand into it at all? I mean would this damage a neck that has finish?
  6. custom/59

    custom/59 Banned

    Dec 16, 2012
    its a steve vai model guitar. hence the inlay
  7. xardoz

    xardoz Tele-Meister

    Apr 21, 2010
    St. Louis, Misery
    Those aren't my pictures, they're from the tutorial I linked to.

    As far as masking the wood, no, I didn't. My necks aren't finished yet, so I wasn't worried about the sides of the neck, and since these were practice pieces, I was interested to see how the fret board itself would be effected. Honestly, it looks like the sanding sponges didn't do much to the wood. I had filed the fret ends with a 35* file block first, so it was really just taking down the rough edges off.

    The boards I'm working with are red oak and lacewood, so they're pretty soft compared to rosewood or maple, but they did seem to weather this treatment pretty well. YMMV, of course.
  8. Michael Allen

    Michael Allen Tele-Meister

    Sep 16, 2009
    there's a prs youtube video showing the same thing. no masking either
  9. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity

    sadly, the only neck I've got here that needs the fret ends dressed... is a cheap 24 3/4" scale one I got ...

    and it's got white plastic binding.... oh dear... it's going to be messy..;)
  10. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity

    Fret dressing the stupidly complicated way (but oh how comfortable - if you ever get a chance to play a guitar with fret ends done like this, you'll be spoilt forever).

    I doing my next one like this.

  11. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2010
    New Zealand
    Not too complicated, but imagine doing that 44 times. :eek:
  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Hmm, I really like the idea of fret ends like this, but at the pace I work, it would take a month....
  13. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity

    Takes a couple hours at most. What else ya gonna do? Watch When Harry Met Sally again?
  14. Jupiter

    Jupiter Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I don't think I made it all the way through the first time.... But I don't think I would be able to do those frets in a couple hours, either. It'll take me longer than that to do 'em the standard way.
  15. DrBanana

    DrBanana Tele-Holic

    Feb 22, 2011
    I don't think I'm going to live that long
  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    What's the difference between this method in this last semi hemi video and using your file and abrasives to dress the fret ends after it is on the fretboard.....? After installing them you knock the corners off the fretwire to round them, do the bevel with a Don Teeter designed fret angle jig, and just go a bit farther into the wood to have the wood proud over the fretwire, and then finally round it. It's just how much time you want to put into it I guess. The only thing I see that is different is that he has trimmed the tang shorter...and you could do that with the stewmac fret tang notcher before you install the frets.
  17. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

    Feb 21, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Wow, that does look time consuming. The video is 10 minutes long and that's to do one fret.

    I'm sure he gets a great end result, but I'll be stealing xardoz's idea.
  18. aikiguy

    aikiguy Tele-Meister

    Nov 2, 2010
    Alameda California
    ??? Don't understand all this extra work in the video unless this is a bound fretboard that he is installing these frets on. However that is not what he shows on the board that he is using in the video.

    The cut back of the fret tang on the fret ends is interesting, but why? Unless you have cut the fret slot so that it does not extend to the edge of the board you are going to have a slot in the board to fill. You can go back and fill this with superglue and wood dust from the board sanding operation but why all the work?

    What am I missing here?

  19. symbology

    symbology TDPRI Member

    Nov 2, 2011
    So Cal
    I had similar thoughts.

    One of my guitar's has frets dressed this way. It feels good, but not really any better than a guitar that has had its frets installed on the fretboard, then dressed. Taking the time to profile the ends of course.

    As to using the sanding sponge, I actually tried that on my last build. Never seen it before, I just had a sponge sitting on the bench and I tried it. It worked ok, but it is hard to manage the area of abrasion. I found that it was easy to apply too much pressure and compress the sponge while you are working it. Once thh sponge compresses you are hitting too much of the tops of the frets IMO. I went back to my small hard wood dowels with sand paper wrapped around them. Much easier to control with better results.
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