Fret leveling question (probably a silly one)

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Kiwi_Neil, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    I haven't had time to work on my project guitar as my 89 year old Mum need my attention just now, and I'm happy and privileged to be able to do so. But tonight I was inspecting the new neck that I will use and I know that I will need to level and crown the frets, among other jobs. I've done only 3 level and crown jobs so far, but they have turned out pretty good. I've been very pleased with the results. But a (probably) silly thought came into my mind tonight......why do we run the leveling beam up and down the neck, and not side to side?

    I see possible advantages of going side to side rather than up and down like this:

    1. I won't accidentally hit the nut with the leveling beam, and/or have to remove the nut.
    2. The scratch marks on the frets will be in line with the direction we bend strings, rather than 90 degrees to the bend (I know that the scratches get polished out so maybe it's a moot point, but it makes sense to me).
    3. Easy to follow the radius of the neck.

    Disadvantages?........I don't know.......what are they? There must be a reason why we don't do it this way, but I'm so tempted to try it, unless there really is a good reason not to of course.

    I haven't been drinking....honest! :D
     
  2. Gaz_

    Gaz_ Tele-Meister

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    I think to me the worry would be that your levelling beam/bar probably isn't as long as your neck, so by going side to side you risk levelling in sections, rather than levelling the whole neck at once in nice long strokes, ensuring all frets are at the same level.

    Does that make sense?
    To be fair, I've only done it once, and I found it very effective just to follow Ron Kirn's method.
     
  3. pypa

    pypa Tele-Holic

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    Interesting question.

    The short stroke of the side side method might make it hard to maintain even pressure, risking asymmetry?
     
  4. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    running side to side would take considerably longer... and as always, time is money .. and since all you guys are looking for the "best deal" . . . ;)

    but I know of no one that does it that way... and among those known are some of the industries' heavy weights.... Here, the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." is applicable..

    r
     
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  5. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    I would think keeping the leveling beam aligned correctly during each stroke would be more difficult, but it's just a guess.
     
  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My 2 cents. You are leveling the frets so the strings don't buzz in front and back of each other for your given action requirement. It's probably not as precise as you think either, and there are bound to be irregularities side to side.
     
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Give it a try and report back! I don't know why it wouldn't work - especially on a mild level on a new set of frets. Just make sure you are moving the bar up and down the neck consistently as well. Be careful not to round off the fret ends! May want to change direction at the edges.
     
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  8. pshupe

    pshupe Tele-Meister

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    Because you want to level along the string path. Think of putting a straight wherever each string would be. This is the most important area to be level. You also adjust action at each string above each fret, so again it is the most important for the fret under each string to be level.

    Regards Peter.
     
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  9. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Respectfully, as long as you are using a long bar, the level bar IS following the path of the strings. As long as you keep moving the bar up and down the neck as you proceed, I frankly don't see the difference. My biggest issue would be inadvertently rolling the ends of the frets. I also feel this method may even make it less likely to develop a trough in the frets by removing too much on, say, the center of the frets.

    Think about the difficulty in maintaining even pressure on the bar when moving up and down the neck as the bar shifts position under you on longitudinal strokes. I have a tendency to apply too much pressure on the proximal end of the bar when pushing it away from me, so it is easy to remove too much material on the proximal (closest) portion of the fretboard.

    It may also make it easier to keep the fret radius=board radius. It may not. Every technique can be refined. Who knows unless you try?
     
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  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    there is NOTHING to be gained... not one thing...

    there's a hellova lotta great techs out there and none of them use any other method than that which is tried and true... many contribute to these forums and to YOU TUBE.. again not one has ever suggested such a thing..

    Now under that "umbrella" of the norm there are some variants,, but that's simply becasue Luthiery is an art form...
     
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  11. Kiwi_Neil

    Kiwi_Neil Tele-Meister

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    Some interesting posts here so far, which is great. No harm in looking at things from a different perspective, imo.

    As far as I can see, no one has really come up with any disadvantages, which was my question. Ronkirn raises a good point about the speed of the operation (from a commercial standpoint), but I think that if one were to become proficient at side-to-side leveling (just being devils advocate here), the speed difference might not be so great. For instance, the age old debate about vintage tuners vs locking tuners for speed of changing strings rings true here. There's no right or wrong answer to the debate, it's just what people prefer and get used to. Both tuners achieve the same result, do they not?

    I don't think that 'doing it (leveling) this way because it's always been done this way' is completely fair. If we thought like that we'd still be living in caves rubbing sticks together to make a fire!! It may well be that it is better to use the conventional method of end to end leveling but if no one has ever tried, how do we know? Perhaps there will be nothing gained and I'm not experienced enough to make a valid comparison either way, I just wondered if there are any disadvantages to using the side-to-side method, and so far, it seems not.

    I'm with Boreas in that I have to give it a try. I see no reason to NOT give it a go.
     
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  12. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I always start lengthwise and then finish across using a leveling beam. The last strokes are with 1000-grit paper and just the weight of the beam doing the work. I've found it makes polishing after profiling a very simple task.
     
  13. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    No one said it was better. That doesn't mean it doesn't work.

    One possible advantage - sure to be hotly debated - it may be less likely to cause repetitive motion injury. Perhaps moving the bar only forward and back 2.5" might be more anatomy friendly than a back and forth motion over 3-5" (depending on bar length), or somewhat diagonally to your body as I have done it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    and I didn't say it was either... but in the hundreds of years fretted insturments have been around and the almost 100 years the electric guitar has been with us.. you can bet some tech somewhere has tried every method conceivable.. seems none have risen to the top to displace the tried and true..

    I repeat, if it ain't broke...

    r
     
  15. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Holic

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    I think that's right, it would probably take off more near the fret ends, especially with a small radius..
     
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  16. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to go at it with a beam until i realized it seems a bit overkill now i just mark where the main culprits are and use a 6 inch diamond file with a bevelled front ramp
    much faster job without removing unnecessary material it also helps putting the frets in with a press
    IMG_0346.JPG
     
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  17. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    this is an interesting topic and one that I never really considered. If the beam is long enough it might work well enough
     
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  18. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think you'll find your arm likes moving lengthwise over widthwise. It's more of a normal movement and probably feels more natural.
     
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  19. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have seen it suggested in another forum that side-to-side leveling would work on a compound radius fretboard, but that seems sketchy to me.

    I follow the Kirn method, and right at the end I sometimes go side-to-side just enough to smooth the scratches a bit. Same as Mr. @Peegoo detailed above. Weight of the beam, fine sandpaper, just a couple passes.

    @Ronkirn method will NOT steer you wrong.
     
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I do both directions, but I think its easier to control the beam going long way. Ps - remove the nut when you level, tape the top and pickups, protect the guitar. It really helps to mark the crowns of all of the frets and to watch how the beam is removing those marks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2021
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