Do you crown a new fret job.

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by The Angry Possum, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. The Angry Possum

    The Angry Possum Tele-Meister

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    Im refretting my Ibanez SA160 Guitar. My question is do you crown new frets? If so why? They are new.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  2. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, unless I need to level the frets, then crown the ones that got the leveling to remove the flat top!
     
  3. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Yes you crown them because after you finish installing them you would then level them.
    1. Install
    2. Level
    3. Crown
    4. Polish
     
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Always level your new frets even if you are just skimming the tops. Mark them with magic marker and look at the pattern as your beam moves over them. Then crown and polish.

    I did a pretty thorough description of fretting/refretting in the thread that I wrote about basic setup - in my humble opinion perfect frets are a requirement.
     
  5. The Angry Possum

    The Angry Possum Tele-Meister

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    Do the major guitar company's (Fender, Gibson etc) do a leveling, crowning etc when they make new necks in the factory?
     
  6. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done all mine and even my warmth necks excluding my PRS
     
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  7. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    It's possible, and likely, that they don't. Or at least they approximate something very quickly and cheaply.

    But they also don't do a final setup either, they have factory setup standards that get the guitar close in terms of play-ability but not precisely there. I think its generally understood that once you take possession of a new guitar the first thing you want to do is to get it set up by a local tech to your specifications.
     
  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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  9. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't know what major companies do but more and more they are Plek'ing their frets. However when I read articles by the setup techs that I really admire (such as Evan Gluck at the last GAL conference) they all agree that factory setups can use some improvement. Over and over again I hear the comment that a Pleck is only as good as its operator.

    I get to see a few new guitars from time to time and I almost always end up doing some work on the frets - I have very high standards and frequently guitars from major manufacturers do live up. I've been particularly unimpressed with recent Gibsons - its ironic that their MIC brand, Epiphone, is often better than the domestic ones.

    Last comment is one that Ken Warmoth made about their necks. He said that they expect the builder using one of their necks to fine tune the frets after its installed, but he also admits that most people don't do it (they are sure a lot better than most of the after market necks however).

    I guess its up to each individual builder and player - if the frets meet your standards then they must be good enought.
     
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  11. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Absolutely.

    The new frets are put in, and they are not perfectly level yet, plus they could have tool marks on them from installation. They need to be leveled...and this flattens the crowns. So they need to be added again.

    Poorly crowned frets are a playing impediment and a pet peeve of mine. I hate the "school bus roof" type of frets that were on most Gibsons during the Henry J. years. Their factory fretwork was abysmal. It's much better on the 2019 guitars, IME with them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  12. The Angry Possum

    The Angry Possum Tele-Meister

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  13. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    Good article Marty.

    I noticed they distingished all their "Gibson USA" products are PLEKed. That tells me what I have always found. Most built oversees regardless of the brand are not fret leveled. I think some of it is with the advent of CNC precision and pressing of frets they can get a much better unleveled fret install than the old days. The result seems to be to raise the action safe enough to avoid buzz & out the door they go. The result seems to be no were near a quality job but marginally playable for those who don't know better, and wonder why their guitar sucks to play.

    Eric
     
  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    In the latest issue of Wood and Steel, Bob Taylor was asked whether their guitars were Plek'ed. He said their fretwork is so good that they don't need it. And if new (pre 2019) Gibsons are any indication, Plek'ing isn't perfect - I've been asked to level frets on two (but interestingly, never an Epiphone). I also haven't seen a Gibbie that was built after the shake up so I don't know if their QC is any better.
     
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  15. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes. I have had 2 custom shop Gibson buyers who were fully unpleased with the PLEKd fretwork & more pleased with my hand done work. One even had them redo his & still wasn't pleased & they told him they couldn't set it up any better for him. As long as a human is assessing and pushing buttons no machine is better than the operator.

    Eric
     
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  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Eric, I don't want to bash any manufacturer but that was my experience too. Here is a 2017 guitar that was bought on line and immediately brought to me. It needed fretwork, the relief was excessive and when I went to adjust it look what was on the nut

    IMG_3856.JPG

    Yes, the adjuster had been painted over and since it had never been adjusted the paint was still on the nut. Oh, yeah, the QC form in the case just had a line drawn through each item - does that mean they were actually checked?

    IMG_3858.JPG
     
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  17. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    No problem here with attention to detail, but a lot of great music was made on guitars that were just played and recorded as is ...
     
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  18. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Afflicted

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    Its best to level the fretboard, then install the frets. You get away with very little fret leveling needed. But that's more work, and more invasive if you have a lacquered fretboard. I'm lazy, so I install the frets, and just level them, which requires them to be crowned, and then I polish them to a sheen.
     
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  19. Chief101

    Chief101 TDPRI Member

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    My Plek’d Les Paul, even when adjusted as well as the Plek would allow, played poorly. After I did a proper level, crown, and polish it now plays like a dream. I’m not a believer in the value of the Plek but haven’t seen/played the results of a pro Plek operator. Gibson must use it as a marketing gimmick because it certainly doesn’t enhance their final product.

    The fretting/regretting of a fingerboard always produces inconsistencies in the final fret level. I think they always need a level, crown and polish to make them optimal. I level, crown and polish every fret on any production line guitar I get. They’re always better after.
     
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  20. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    As far as pleking goes I always thought it was a completely automated process but after looking into it I’ve found that the plek machine only levels the fret and a human needs to do the final dressing.
    Also the person running the machine has to know what they’re doing.
    All adds up to being fallible by us humans and isn’t perfect
     
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