Fret Leveling Frustration

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Telecasterless, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,287
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Guys,

    So I have spent an inordinate amount of time, leveling the frets, crowning the frets on an Epi Les Paul Special, only to have the high E still choking out when I bend up a full step or more at most any fret above the 12th. The B string seems to be ok when bending up two steps. I leave the strings on and loose, so I can check it quickly after I do some adjustment.

    It's driving me crazy. I have been spot leveling, trying to level in some falloff, trying everything and the dang thing won't go away.

    I'm running out of ideas. Just to be clear, when I am leveling, I have the fretboard dead flat with a notched straight edge. And with a flat straight edge, all the frets are level. With a fret rocker, no frets are high.

    There's about .010 at the 7th fret and 5/32nds on the low E and 3/32s on the high E.

    There are only two things I can think of:

    1. Did I mess up the radius somehow when I leveled the frets? If I put a radius gauge on top of the frets, they seem to be pretty even under a 12.

    2. I know the nut is a little high. It's about 0.30 at the low E and high E, but I think the process is to do that after I get the frets leveled and crowned.

    Any thoughts to help me on this?
     
    Arfage and Wallaby like this.
  2. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,764
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Godzone
    I worked on an Epi SG400 where the low-E, A, and D strings rattled above fret 13. I think where the trussrod anchor inside the neck ended the neck was ballooning slightly and a hump formed in the fretboard. High-E only, doesn't do it on the B?

    Your neck may be a little too straight, or you may may have too low an action on that side. You need a tiny bit of relief.

    I'd making a file on all the frets past twelve just on the edge of the board
     
    Wallaby likes this.
  3. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,287
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Yep, high E only, and really only when you bend up. So it makes me think the lower 1/3 to middle of the frets are too high.

    I've just leveled so much already that I am pulling my hair out. I guess I will try leveling that area some more above the 12. The challenge with changing the relief is it really doesn't do much up that high. And as per your experience, when I started this process, yes, there was definitely more of a prominent hump up around the 18th to 20th frets.
     
  4. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,287
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    Incidentally, I meant 5/64ths and 3/64ths on the action. Which is textbook.
     
  5. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,547
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Location:
    Australia
    I believe the proper way the level frets (with the neck dead straight), is to have a gradual slope-off after the 12th fret.
    Other's with more experience may chime in.
     
    Buzzgrowl, GFrank and Laren like this.
  6. LAPlayer

    LAPlayer Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    324
    Joined:
    May 13, 2020
    Location:
    LA / Denver
    It takes me about an hour. I throw a guitar in the car. I drive to my tech’s (12 minutes). Catch up with him for about 10 minutes and then leave. They call me in 5-7 days and let me know it’s ready. I get in the car and drive 12 minutes to pick it up. I arrive and check out the guitar and catch up with the guys on anything coming up For 5-10 minutes and head to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee and then 10 minutes home. No headache. Any other alternative isn’t worth my time.
     
  7. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,764
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Godzone
    Try just concentrating on the high-E area. It's easy sometimes with leveling - to flatten the frets slightly more than the bridge radius. Mark them all with black felt marker out near the edge when you do the first file cut.
     
    lilqueenie likes this.
  8. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    Its obvious...High/low fret height remain beyond fret 12...
    option:
    1]re- level All the frets again.,...and then check for Level before Crowning stage =The correct approach.
    Easier..[?]
    2]Add a slight Fall away beginning at fret 12 & re -Crown.=can resolve issue.

    Why chase your tail to the sea...spot leveling etc.
     
  9. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    a ''Fall away''...seen mostly on acoustic gtrs...can resolve the issue above fret 12.Be warned..If too much fall away is made,it can now be problematic on both acoustic/Electric gtrs!=too much string travel ''distance'' since the few frets now slope ''away'' permanently at the heel.
    If too exaggerated...only way to then resolve is to re level/re crown again etc=Major 'LOSS of fret height overall.'
     
    JuneauMike likes this.
  10. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    Unnecessary to add a fall away if leveling procedure done correctly!
     
  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,843
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Wyoming panhandle
    Have you examined all the frets' ends using magnification and a bright light? Use the end of a wooden chopstick or other non-metallic tool to press downward on each fret end and look for movement. Even the slightest amount of movement can cause this string choking issue.

    I mention this because sometimes one or more frets are a little loose in the fretboard and have a bit of spring in them. They compress during the leveling/crowning process but spring back up, causing a high fret condition.

    Use a fret rocker (only three frets per try) and check each fret. Let only the weight of the rocker bear on the frets and see if you get any click sounds.

    If it's not a lifting fret (or frets), then it's an over-radius condition.
     
    decibel, Kbore, JL_LI and 4 others like this.
  12. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    There are no ''rules''...string height must be ''X'',Relief must be 'Y' etc etc..it is what 'suits''the 'uniqueness' of the players specific 'musical preferences' that really matters.Books/forums...textbooks are only guide lines,a reference point! & not must be.
    every set up is/will be unique...like the player.
     
    aerhed and LAPlayer like this.
  13. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    Yes.this can be a cause for uneven fret height.
    but i don't think it applies in telecasterless case.[his issue/reason for original post]
     
  14. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    Reason for choking result=Uneven fret height.Cause: incorrect Levelling TECHNIQUE/..procedure from Heel to fret 1..
    to resolve.....A] add a fall away maybe Re Do Levelling procedure {c] Find another who can resolve etc{$$]
     
  15. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,843
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Wyoming panhandle
    I know...the OP stated, "With a fret rocker, no frets are high."

    That's why I described using the fret rocker very gently...because it is quite common for players and even techs to lean on the fret rocker when using it. This works perfectly fine on frets that are all firmly seated in the wood.

    But sometimes a lifting fret will be the one bad apple in the barrel, and the fret rocker, if used improperly, will not detect the problem.
     
    kingmlg, Kbore, roncg41677 and 3 others like this.
  16. DrBGood

    DrBGood Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    502
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Location:
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    By this, do you mean you don't retune everything before trying your bends ? You should always retune.



    Epiphone are known to have loose frets. I tap them down with a hammer and a short lenght of wood dowel as a punch. Do them one by one and when you find the culprit that keeps coming up, run a bead of super glue on both sides and clamp it down. You can scrape the excess glue later.



    If that's not it, address the nut height and adjust your relief like so. No measurements, work with your ears.

    First, get the neck straight. You turn the truss rod ¼ turn at a time, then check relief. If the neck is too concave, turn the truss rod nut clockwise to remove excess relief. If the neck is too convex, turn the truss rod nut counter-clockwise.

    Begin by tuning to your normal pitch, i.e. if you normally play in drop D, tune to drop D. Retune between each adjustment. Start by setting the bridge height for frets 16 to 22, so that the strings play buzz free at the lowest possible height.

    Start with low E. Plucking normally play fret 16. Lower the bass side of the bridge until it buzzes, raise until clear. Now play it from fret 16 to fret 22. Raise slightly if needed. Check A and D and raise slightly if needed to get clean notes. Remember to retune between steps. Then do the treble side. If you bend notes up here, try a few typical bends, to make sure they don't buzz out.

    When all strings play clean go to the lower frets and neck relief. Play the high E string from fret 1 to fret 15, increasing relief (loosening trussrod counter clockwise) to relieve buzz or decreasing relief (tightening trussrod clockwise) to lower the string height. So tighten, by fractional turns (1/4 of a turn), until it buzzes and back off until it doesn't. If you bend strings , do your typical bends to insure they don't buzz out. Once satisfied, check the other strings and make small adjustments as needed, loosening by the slightest amount (1/8th of a turn) to relieve buzzing.

    Once you have acceptable relief, (i.e. no buzz) and easy action, set your intonation and you're done.

    This is the opposite order of most setup directions. It is based on performance and not measurements; hence, I don't take any. It works because the neck is immobile between frets 16 and 22. The trussrod only affects lower frets. By setting the upper end first, you know any buzzes are coming from too little relief. This method works for most guitars, with truss rods.
     
  17. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    517
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    nowhere anymore/UK
    1]its not specifically...the Radius that is causing the issue.?=its a combination of.... ''levelling overall''Whilst 'Maintaining',trying to keep a 'R'..etc .that is the cause etc.the levelling/use of the beam...the Technique applied!
    2]The nut 'IS' eliminated.....regarding Hi/Low frets...uneven fret heights.

    Its the levelling of ,the Technique applied via the beam...that IS the cause for the choking issue..the beams 'underside' has contacted the 'outer fret edges' but the fret center has remained scarcely touched...Leaving HIGH SPOTS etc.UNEVEN fret height.
    Check the frets via a Radius gauge[ITS use]...EVERY FRET.
     
    Kbore likes this.
  18. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,287
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    But wouldn't the issue be not right where the E string is located but rather where the B and G and maybe D if it is only choking out when I bend up a whole step and more? So the higher spots would be more at the center of the frets?
    If i keep filing along the plane of the e string, that will only make that area lower than the center of the fret and thus aggravate the problem, right?
     
  19. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,287
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles

    ?
     
  20. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,843
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Wyoming panhandle
    That is exactly correct. Filing down the ends of the frets (where the high E lives) decreases the radius of the frets' tops. You may need to increase (flatten out) the radius.
     
    Kbore, mkdaws32 and tubegeek like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.