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DIY Fret level and crown

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by kohoutec, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    I have to confess this is mostly just an excuse to show off my handiwork as I'm so pleased with it, but also an encouragement for anyone thinking of trying this on their own guitars.

    I'm the kind of person who is not to be trusted with power tools (or any tools for that matter... I'm just not that practical).
    Anyway, I put together a partscaster last year with a Fender Fat 51 U neck. It buzzed bending at the 15th, and I could only get rid of it with a high action, so thought I would invest in a few tools and have a go at fretwork.

    So I bought a levelling beam, triangular file with safe edges, a fret rocker, notched edge and plenty of sandpaper along with some micromesh... It all cost less than the guy I normally use charges for a level and crown.

    I bought a really cheap Strat copy to start on, and the results were a lot better than I expecting. Levelling the frets didn't worry me that much, but I wasn't sure I would be up to crowning them. I worked my way through Ron's excellent sticky thread, along with a ton of YouTube videos....
    Next I did my son's Squier Strat, and again they came out ok...
    So moving on I did the first of my two partscasters, and then finally plucked up the courage to do the one with the fender neck.

    They're all much better as a result.
    I picked up a Baja last week which had a bit of fretwear, not horrific, but enough to bug me. It also has a high fret...

    I did feel a little apprehensive about doing this one as I'd not previously had to tackle any significant wear, but I took my time, went to through all the paper grades to 2500, and then continued with about 5 grades of micromesh, and finished off with some polish.
    I'm stunned by the results, I've had a pro level and crown done on a couple of guitars previously, and without blowing my trumpet too much my job on this one really feels comparable.

    So, I guess the point of this thread is.... If you're thinking about having a go, do it! All the information you need is in Ron's thread and YouTube (although you have to weed out the bad advice on YouTube)... Buy a beater or two to start with, it will give you the confidence to realise it's not as daunting as it might feel.

    And the results are so satisfying, this is the Baja I did yesterday, the guitar plays like a dream now.
    PXL_20210123_120951050.jpg PXL_20210123_120955684.jpg PXL_20210123_121005474.jpg PXL_20210123_143109693.jpg PXL_20210123_143112385.jpg PXL_20210123_143123884.jpg PXL_20210122_214207471.NIGHT.jpg
     

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    SbS, Jakedog, moosie and 5 others like this.
  2. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

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    I was just looking at a tele copy on ebay going for peanuts and I thought I should buy it to practice fret work, then I see your thread! .. Might have to get my sniper bidding hat on, it ends tomorrow, is not far from here and so far the bidding is up to AU$45..

    Your Baja frets look like mirrors! Well done!
     
  3. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, I'm so pleased with it. This was the 4th one I've done and each one improved on the last .

    Go for it. Cheap used guitars are so cheap now and I find parting out the bodies and necks on eBay more than pays for them afterwards.
     
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  4. summer_69

    summer_69 Tele-Meister

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    I am sure he appreciates that it at least was not the first of guinea pigs ;-)

    Thank for sharing. And yes, a little care for the frets can give the joy of playing the guitar a substantial lift. Did your son notice the difference?.
     
    kohoutec likes this.
  5. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

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    Hmm, might bring some work your way next time I'm passing!
     
  6. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    He doesn't really play it to be honest... He's only 9 which is around when I started, but hoping he might find the enthusiasm soon! The younger one is a lefty, I think he might turn out to be the musical one!
     
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  7. summer_69

    summer_69 Tele-Meister

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    My dad played guitar, and has been sort of inspiring to me musically. What drove me - besides my joy of music in general - was the opportunity to play along with one of my buddies to our BTO, Slade, Sweet etc. records. So the social/group aspect was a driving force. Sorry for being off topic.
     
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  8. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    Yeah same here. He was no more than what i would call a casual strummer, but it got me interested... He did lend me his John Mayall Blues breakers (aka Beano) album once and told me to listen to it. Appreciated that
     
  9. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

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    Nice work.

    I agree that it’s much easier than I originally thought it would be.
     
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  10. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Great photos! Congrats on a great job. I followed a similar path using Ron Kirn's guide and it's been a great boon, goes a long way to getting the most out of a guitar!
     
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  11. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yet you've successfully assembled several partscasters, sounds like. And now done four-plus fret jobs.

    Have you cut any nuts yet? 'Cause the next step might be refrets, which usually need a replacement nut as well. Just like with fretwork, you can get a set of Hosco files for less than the cost of one tech visit.
     
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  12. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    No, but it is something I'm thinking about having a crack at next... Like many I can set up a guitar to a decent standard, especially now I'm not terrified of fretwork, but nuts are something that have eluded me until now.
    As you say, they often go hand in hand with refrets... So I ought to have a go
     
  13. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Over here, I'd buy a pile of cheap bone nut blanks from Philadelphia Luthier Supply, for $1 each, and practice. Beware StewMac 'prettier' bone blanks for $5 each. Ultimately the same thing, both get polished.
     
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