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Fret leveling question

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Voicing 13, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Voicing 13

    Voicing 13 Tele-Meister

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    Hey,

    I'm doing a fret leveling job on one of my good guitars. This is the first time the neck gets this treatment. It always had the high Ab on the first string buzz since the fret was too low.

    The 16th fret was low and I've had to take off (what I think) a fair amount of fret wire on the other frets to make it even. My question is:

    The fret leveling tool has now flatten some of the 16th fret as we would expect but the "summit" (if I can call it that) of the other fret are more evenly flat at the high E end of the neck.

    So if one fret is being touch by the fret leveling tool but does not look exactly like the others will it still buzz?

    My apologies if I'm not clear and I'll post a picture later.

    thanks
     
  2. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Tele-Holic

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    After levelling, you need to 'crown' the frets, usually with a crowning file - so they all have the same 'summit' and the string makes the same amount of contact whichever fret it is on
     
  3. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    What you've described raises the question "What method did you use to know when to stop levelling?"

    A common method is to run a black magic marker across the tops (crown) of all the frets before you begin levelling. The marker is your guide as to when to stop levelling. When the marker is gone from all the frets you know that the frets are level.

    If you don't do this or something like this you won't know when to stop levelling.


    Did you do this or some version of this?



    Since the frets started out unlevel it's logical to assume that some frets will have more metal removed from them than others during the process of levelling. It sounds to me like your 16th fret didn't get enough material removed from it.

    Crowning the frets is not done until they are all level with eachother. The purpose of crowning is simply to put the radius back on the top of the fret not to finish levelling them.

    Here's a very good tutorial with lots of pics. It's a 'sticky thread' at the top of this 'Tele Tech' forum.

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-technical/201556-fret-leveling-yer-tele-101-a.html
     
  4. Voicing 13

    Voicing 13 Tele-Meister

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    I used the black marker method and Ron's treat it's what got me started on this whole thing. So after doing a a few cheaper guitars I thought I'd fix my problem with a one of my better guitars.

    Yes there is still some marker on the fret. I will keep filling until it's gone. I've got 6150 fret wire so, I have plenty on there but it just feel like a shame to shave (what seems) like so much off for one low fret. But since I can't live with the buzz.

    Right then, back to work.

    thanks!
     
  5. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    The alternative, of course, is to buy some fret wire that's the same width as what you've got but tall enough that you can bring that one fret down to the others. There are some luthiers who prefer this method as it leaves more of your frets, and if done well is less invasive.

    If it were my guitar, I'd probably be inclined to go that way, but I have the tools and already have lots of fretwire around. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably just keep grinding away.
     
  6. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    If your certain that the rest of the frets are level I guess you could just take down the last few frets from the 16th on back to the heel. That's pretty common to create 'fall away' at the end of the board.
     
  7. Twangbanger

    Twangbanger Tele-Holic

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    How's the neck relief? Did you adjust the truss rod or action any, as well as the nut?

    I've done quite a few level and crown jobs and a hand full of refrets. I've seen necks with a lot of relief still buzz in places after leveling and crowning.

    Back to your method, make sure your consistent on keeping your leveling tool parallel to the neck and perpendicular to the frets. Remove all the black marks completely and use the same black marks to make sure you remove material equally when crowning.

    This type of work can be easy and then be a bear!

    Good luck
     
  8. Voicing 13

    Voicing 13 Tele-Meister

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    yeah, I would love to have gone the less "invasive way" but I don't have the set up. That and the learning curve of taking out a fret without damaging my fret board. I think I'll just level off. I don't have that far to go but it I find it unfortunate to do that for one fret. Oh well, live and learn that's whyI started to put my guitars together myself (partcasters).

    Thanks everyone for the help. I hope to have this done by the end of the weekend.
     
  9. Janitor Julius

    Janitor Julius Tele-Holic

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    This reminded me of a Tonequest article I read awhile back. Neil Young tech Larry Cragg was interviewed about "Old Black", Young's repainted '53 goldtop which is notorious, nay infamous for fretwear. Here's a quote:

    "Is it true that it has never been re-fretted?
    'That’s another story… it hadn’t until about four years ago
    when they had worn down almost to the wood and there was
    hardly any fret left – only tang up to about the 7th or 8th fret.
    I talked to him about it and the notes just weren’t coming
    through. I was sweatin’ bullets, and I got the same exact type
    of fret wire and milled them down to the same level of the
    frets that were left. He got his guitar back and said, “You
    ruined Black – I can’t play it like this. Put the old frets back
    in with two years left on them.” Of course, they had come out
    in pieces because the tang was the only thing holding the sections
    together. So I put the grooves back in the new frets just
    where they had been and wore the frets down to almost nothing
    and he was happy.'"
     
  10. Twangbanger

    Twangbanger Tele-Holic

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    Wow, good story.

    I purchased a D28 that had fret wear down to the tang on the high b and e of the 1st few frets.
     
  11. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    if there's about 2/3rds of the crown height than can be salvaged - level the board with the truss rod, red or blue or green sharpie the fret tops, level the frets with an appropriate tool (file, abrasive paper/cloth, whatever). if there are divots or extreme flats, use a fret file. after every series of passes, re-color the fret tops. when ALL the color is gone on the last pass, re-color the fret tops and switch to 3m gold abrasive on flat bar. i run through 80, 120, 220, 320 and 600. color the fret tops for each pass - this will give you positive feedback on what's happening to the fret crowns.

    TIP: after the pass with each abrasive over the tops of the frets (yer running the abrasive at 90 degrees to the frets, from the neck heel to the nut), pass the abrasive across the fret tops IN THE DIRECTION OF THE LENGTH OF THE FRETS ... that is, from fret end to fret end - this will redirect and orient the abrasive scratches properly, along the length of each fret ... this will not change the levelness of the frets since abrasive bar is spanning lots of frets as you buff their tops.

    after the last abrasive pass, re-color the fret tops and crown them ... always leave a slight band of color on the fret tops - if you don't, the frets are no longer leveled. now flap (round over) the fret tops with a successive series of micro mesh abrasive grits, either wrapped around your fingers or on a medium density neoprene block of foam with 600, 1500, 2400, 3200, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000. when using the 4000 thru 12000 grits, also redirect the abrasive along the length of the fret tops, to reorient the "scratch" marks. now clean up with naphtha and admire.
     
  12. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

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    It seems to me that he should have had that one fret replaced and gone on from there, but it's too late for that. Meanwhile, some folks do take a little extra off of the higher frets and he might want to consider that. That would leave more left on the money frets which would be good if he isn't a "shredder" type of player.

    Rob DiStefano: 12000 grit. Wow, maybe for some folks but I don't think my sloppy butt would notice the difference.
     
  13. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    not yer butt, yer EYES. :cool:
     
  14. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would like to see a video of this if possible and yes i have seen your pics on your site. I don't get the crowning after each grit. Is that required?
     
  15. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    video? hah!

    "crowing after each grit"? i have not idea what yer talking about. you crown the fret tops once, and only after the frets have been levelled. after crowning, the tops of the frets are "flapped" with progressively finer grits to fully round off and blend the sides of the frets to the tiny flat (and levelled) top.
     
  16. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    :lol: ah k i got you now. Just read it wrong i guess.
     
  17. Janitor Julius

    Janitor Julius Tele-Holic

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    This is one of those instances where the euphemism doesn't live up to the standard. Sloppy butt just sounds like a hygiene problem...
     
  18. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I find that instead of using a sharpie after the leveling to guide the crowning, that a strong unidirectional light source creates a distinct difference in colour on the frets. The flat part is like chrome, the rounded part like aluminium. Just a matter of using the crowning file until the shiny strip in the middle is a hair thin and the same width the entire fret.

    I also only use 600, 800 and 1200 grits before using a dremel polishing wheel and compound. The wheel gives the frets more shine than they had when they were still wire. I reckon you can feel the smoothness too - especially when bending notes.

    Another thing to note is the sharpie ink can eventually clog your file. Most solvents will remove it.
     
  19. Voicing 13

    Voicing 13 Tele-Meister

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    problems: crowning

    First thanks to all for the information.

    Secondly, I got the fret at the same level finally. Previously when I crowned the frets I did not use the marker again. So this time I decided to follow Rob's advise and mark the frets. Before I go on I should mentioned, frets are 6150 and the file (jumbo) both from Warmoth.

    Now I notice that the first thing that seem to go on the fret is the middle line that I should be keeping:confused: Am I holding the file badly or is it the file? Guess I should have done a few more cheap necks before moving to this one.

    Also when I noticed this problem I went looking on the web for videos and there seems to be several different methods and approaches. In this video the luthier goes pretty hard on the fret:

    http://www.ehow.com/video_2375087_how-recrown-guitar-frets.html

    Then I found another that just uses sand paper (with new frets) or proposes to use a 3 way file if frets are older.


    How about this? Seems like it could be long but at least I feel like I would get a better result than what I am getting now.

    youtube 2

    Here's to learning.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  20. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Sounds like cross-sectional radius of your fret wire is smaller than the radius of your crowning file.
     
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