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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Fret leveling yer tele.......101

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Ronkirn, Feb 27, 2010.

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  1. Bluej58

    Bluej58 Tele-Holic

    944
    Nov 23, 2008
    Marseilles, Ill USA
    The original post was " Fret leveling yer tele.......101 " after all

    Or if I may, Fret leveling for dummies

    Thanks again Ron

    JD
     

  2. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    I have read and re-read this thread, trying to determine how it “went south” like it did. Normally I’d just allow something like this to die and rest in the heap of other obscure threads. But since one like this is likely to be resurrected by others searching “Fret Leveling” I though I’d see if a scrutiny wasn’t in order…

    First… My bad… I entered Billy’s thread which was discussing hyper precision… It was running concurrently with my thread on Fret leveling…. Thus I was talking Apples in an Orange thread….

    But that said, I have leveled about a dozen necks since this all began, and while doing them I have been paying attention to exactly how I’m doing it… By that I mean, after so many years, much is just “automatic” I just stand there doing what now comes so naturally….

    I figured the “catalyst” for the “robust” discussion was my suggestion of an “oval” shaped scrubbing pattern. In a true oval, there aren’t any “straight line” motions, That, indeed, is not the way to level the frets. Thus, and I forgot this, some take everything exactly as outlined, and could actually trace out an oval pattern and follow it…. Not a good plan and that’s where I mislead ya…

    As I was doing some necks today, I noticed my “oval” would range from about 4 to 8 inches long, and about ½ inch wide, with the majority of the action in a straight line up and down the neck. The actual “oval” is only a brief moment as direction is changed. As I moved the tool, I would roll or more accurately scoot it across the frets to prevent flat spots from being cut which would happen if you just moved up and down the neck,

    Now, I’m sure some will be aware that even in such an extremely slight apparent diagonal motion there could be some diagonal action which would yield the concave cut David and others mentioned. I submit that the anomaly produced by the action I use in a “worst case” scenario is so slight, that it would be on the order of .0001s of an inch, which is virtually immeasurable on a guitar neck, and pretty darn hard with precision surfaces. A 1/10000 of an inch is only about 2 1/2 microns…a strand of hair is about 100 microns in diameter, so we’re not talking about anything your are going to be able to see, feel, or find.

    Therefore let me re assert, as David, RainDave and others pointed out… DO NOT CUT ON A DIAGONAL… but for these instructions the extremely slight skewed motion as the tool’s direction is changed is insignificant.

    To further re-enforce the insignificance of .0001, when you press a string into a fret, the fret will distort more than that …much more… Also and this one will getcha…. Once a neck is leveled, and has sat a while, it could probably use another fret leveling, because wood is a dynamic media. Even “stable” wood is so only within a specified range. The simple rise and fall of normal room temperatures cause it to warp, bend, twist, you know, all those things you hope your neck never does. They do so any way. Fortunately on most necks it is so slight that it is an insignificant amount… much like the .0001 +- I mentioned above.

    So fret leveling is a skill/art much like any other and there are a multitude of subtle nuances that will creep into your particular technique that still will yield a beautifully playing neck. To develop that skill you must begin somewhere. A Special Ops sniper did not begin shooting with a .50 Barrett. He probably began like most of us with a Single Shot .22 and a couple of Del Monte cut corn cans on the back 40.

    So get your piece of granite, stick some sand paper on it, and level the frets on the 69.00 Wal-Mart special ya got…. You’re gonna say, “Well Dammmm, How ‘bout that.”

    My thanks to David, and the others that “caught” the “oval” conundrum and how others would misinterpret what I was suggesting. And I trust this will put out the vicious rumors that I’m some kinda Azzhole…. I’m Not… Diquikhaid is much closer, just ask my wife.


    RK
     

  3. 4string

    4string Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2010
    Central California
    I can only speak for myself on this one. Thank you Ron for teaching me how to fret level. It is something I have wanted to learn how to do for many years, but was afraid I would mess up my necks if I just went blindly into it. From my 1st contact with you onwards you have freely given your knowledge and great wisdom, where most would not be so generous. You truly possess the heart and soul of a Great Teacher. The three basses I applied your instuction to now play like a dream!

    I forget many times, even though I have spent my entire life seemingly tool-in-hand and possess far-reaching insight from working a rainbow-pallet of different mediums, when to keep my mouth shut! I really hope it wasn't my bringing up the info about the Zodiaq that started the cascade of "minutae". If so, I never had the intention of distracting from your tremedous contribution to this forum. For a novice, your instruction is pure gold. I know that from how I have benefitted from the exchanges made prior to this thread, and from this thread. I learn something everytime I read anything you have written.

    In the 40 years I have been involved with constuction and machining, I have trained a multitude of apprentices, but that is a different forum. In this forum I am the apprentice. You have my heartfelt appology if any postings I made here were inappropriate, and my graditude for sharing your wisdom. Thanks Ron!
     

  4. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    55
    Sep 23, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    A long time ago I talked about "facets". I meant facets made by flat files when crowning; i.e., facets along the sides of the frets, more or less parallel to the fret board. Concentric with the radius, rather than tangental to it.
     

  5. nadzab

    nadzab Friend of Leo's

    Mar 23, 2009
    New England
    Well, I just took my first stab at it, using the leveling tool from ebay on a $230 Xaviere (a remarkably pretty and usable guitar, but with atrocious fretwork from the factory)...figured if I completely botched it, it wouldn't be the end of the world, as the whole guitar cost less than a good replacment neck for a Tele or Strat.

    I had to keep at it for a long time, particularly to get everything level with the upper frets; and I used 220-grit paper, as I didn't have any 180-grit on hand, so it surely took longer than it would have otherwise.

    [​IMG]

    I used bags of rice, two stacked under the neck and one under the heel, to support the guitar while I worked. Turned out beautifully...this guitar would note out if I looked at it sideways before, and now the action is super-comfortable, and I can bend for days. Thanks Ron - now I have another arrow in my quiver of repair/setup techniques.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010

  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Woo Hoo... way to go.. nuthin' like the sweet smell of success... :D


    r
     

  7. 4string

    4string Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2010
    Central California
    _______________________________________________________________


    HOW 'BOUT FRETS THAT ARE THE = TO 50 MPH SPEED BUMPS?:twisted:


    I have held off on leveling one neck, it kinda has the reverse situation as above. It is an '81 G&L bass w/ a 21-fret neck, and has super jumbo/extra low frets. They even appear to not be crowned; more like a "plateau", flattened on top. Maybe this is from wear? But the frets are consistently shaped this way (not crowned per se) To further complicate things, it has a maple board and I'm concerned about damaging the board's nitro right next to the frets, as my jumbo crowning file appears to be taller than the frets themselves.

    I would really like to level this neck: 16 thru 19 are deffinately low, forcing higher action (which is not high by bass standards @ strong 1/8"-3/32" E-G) I do not, however, want to mess w/ this bass, it's 100% original (and I want to keep it that way!). Any suggestions? :confused:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2010

  8. 4string

    4string Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2010
    Central California
    Fret profiles other than domed?

    I guess what I'm asking here is if anyone knows anything about frets being shaped differently than domed. The reason I ask is because I've had this bass since 1985 and I don't recall the frets ever looking all that differently than they do now. There is considerable fret wear, but it is the typical hollowed-out under "high traffic" notes. That is another reason I want to fret level this bass. I had the frets dressed about 15 years ago, but the fret profile didn't change at that time as far as I'm aware.

    Are all frets domed? If there is terminology for other types of fretwire profiles, I would be interested in learning, and how is re-shaping done after a fret level? :confused:
     

  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    For all practical purposes yes.... there may still be a few exotics around, there used to be... with a hard upside down "V" shape... but it doesn't matter.

    As soon as you resume playing the guitar the action of fretting the string begins wearing the fret down. The resulting shape is slightly "flat" on the top of the fret.

    There are bunches of guitars out there that have been played for years and have worn frets that still make great music. Those frets would be virtually flat in the “high traffic” areas.

    There will be those, fore sure, that tout the advantages of a precise "dome" or apex to the shape, but the very nature of what happens as the string is fretted precludes sweating such tedium in my experience.

    Ron Kirn
     

  10. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

    719
    Dec 10, 2009
    Tennessee
    I managed to pick a 16" x 16" piece of polished granite this weekend. It is about .5" thick. My nephew has a tile saw with a diamond blade and water feed. It is a shame to cut it up as it is quite beautiful.

    My plan is to cut a 16" X 2" strip and then epoxy a piece of sealed MDF to the "rough" side in the hope of making it a little less fragile.

    The remaining piece can replace the old mirror that I used to use to tape sand paper to for sanding a surface flat.


    As an interesting side note, I was talking to the stone supplier and he said that he sells a lot to the US Navy. They have to have a stable level surface for their sextons. I didn't realize that they still used sextons but I guess if the electronics go haywire and you are in the middle of the ocean.....



    Edit: Does anyone know of an easy way to chamfer the cut edge slightly? (So it won't be so sharp)
     

  11. XinTX

    XinTX Tele-Meister

    118
    Jan 16, 2009
    SE Texas
    I did another thread, but I followed some of what Ron says here (but no granite piece for me) and leveled my frets. MUCH better play now. Used to buzz all over the place (turns out the next-to-last fret was pretty high among other things) now it's fine. Managed to lower the action a bit as well. Probably do better on the next one I do. But it's not that hard.
     

  12. fenderpeet

    fenderpeet Tele-Meister

    150
    Nov 24, 2003
    hoofddorp
    Great thread! Not that I am confident to do it myself though ;-)
     

  13. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    It depends on the type of stone it's cut from, but some if it is pretty "soft". Take a piece of good (3M) wet or dry about 100 grit, and use that with a flat block to chamfer the edges...


    Ron Kirn
     

  14. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

    719
    Dec 10, 2009
    Tennessee
    Thanks Ron.

    I didn't know if that would work with granite.
     

  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Gotta be pretty easy, the Egyptians managed with Copper tools and other rocks... :eek:

    rk
     

  16. 4string

    4string Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2010
    Central California
    Hi Ziggy. Use silicon carbide paper if possible. Granite is murder on any kind of sandpaper. If you have access to a disc sander, hit the edges with that if possible.

    I would laminate it to an aluminum bar, rather than MDF. Wood of any kind is no good for laminating w/ granite. Stone has almost zero expansion/contraction, whereas wood's is RADICAL. The wood will litterally break your pc of granite! Hope that helps. ;););)
     

  17. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

    719
    Dec 10, 2009
    Tennessee
    Thanks for the tips!

    I may have a couple of 1" aluminum angle pieces that I can back-to-back and glue to the granite. It will make a nice hand hold as well.

    I initially thought of the MDF because I always have some scrap pieces and it is supposed to be stable. I was going to seal the sides with Wood Hardner. (I seem to make a lot of jigs with the stuff. Thanks again to RK for the Wood Hardner tip.)

    However, I guess even with MDF there will always be some movement with humidity. Not so much with aluminum.



    A side benefit of meeting the stone guy is that he wants to take me to see his operation. He has a $300,000 CNC from Italy.
     

  18. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

    719
    Dec 10, 2009
    Tennessee
    Ron - In the excellent strat build tutorial on your website you explain how to create the relief for the upper frets by putting a little pressure on the leveler. I can only guess that knowledge of the amount of pressure needed would come from years of experience.

    For those of us without those years of experience, would you reccomend the method of adding layers of tape to the 10th fret and then releveling the high frets?
     

  19. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Zig, just use silicone adhesive, to glue the aluminum to the stone, it remains flexible so the stone can "move" at will.

    and it only takes a few passes with the tool to relive the frets. just apply slight pressure at the 21st and virtually none on the other end of the tool..

    r
     

  20. 4string

    4string Friend of Leo's

    Feb 11, 2010
    Central California
    You betcha. I want to see his Italian CNC too. The Italians make the best stoneworking equipment. Hell, they ARE the stoneworking business.......prepare to be amazed by the scale (size/power/performance) of what you see in his shop!



    Good call on the silicone Ron; two thumbs up!
     

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