Fret leveling with a beam: Am I the only one with this problem?

Ronkirn

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and.. I don't mean to suggest my way is the best way . . the Best way is whatever way works for you.. but you must begin somewhere....

Luthiery is an art form and just like Salvatore Dali isn't Matisse, and neither are Picasso, all 3 are superb in their own rights..
 

Thebluesman

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L & C the frets.. if done with accuracy etc should eradicate any fret issues that cause fret buzz. If L & C procedure is followed=You must find the L & C method that thus suits 'YOU'... that does/will leave the frets ' perfectly level '
 

Thebluesman

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Be aware-If divots, indentations ,grooves visible=They will worsen over time[with playing use etc]. .. unless they are L & C' e d[eradicated asap] To eradicate=L & C time!
One must remove fret material[Height] until now left level! if frets once now levelled now left too low=Re-fret time.
 

Thebluesman

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Step away from all videos, and reading, and and analyzing and grab your neck, markers & beam and level the darn thing! Ron has laid it out as good as it gets. Get a nice standard level & crown job done well & celebrate the accomplishment.

Non essentials like fall away can come another day. We are working guitars to play instead of space rockets with the risk of death.
That IS the problem-if fall away added ..and was unnecessary in 1st place! If the fall away [the slope made]was too much=it affects ..the Levelling stage now done=Loss in more fret height to reach new level= A re-fret consideration now just because etc=rectification Cost now increases etc.
 

mdphillips1956

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When I started building, I started leveling with the Stewmac fret rocker because it's what I had available. Later I got a piece of corian and was going to go with the beam method, but it ended up taking more off the the first few frets than any of the others even though, according to the fret rocker, things were in good shape there, so I hadn't used that method since.

I'm now working on another fret level and figured I'd try the beam method again. I again ran into the problem of it taking more off the first couple frets than anything else, even though the fret rocker showed those frets to be in good shape. I tried flipping the beam end-for-end and holding it closer to the frets in question (mainly 17-19), but it still seems to be taking more off the first few. Both times I've tried this method, I've used a straight edge to make sure my neck was straight prior to commencing.

Am I the only one who struggles with this technique, or am I missing something?

Thanks.
Hello from Mark in Sussex England,
I am not a luthier but I do convert and set up a lot of guitars every year; I am levelling frets on pretty much every guitar that arrives in my workshop, but almost never by taking metal off the height of the fret.
If a fret is high look for the reason first; mostly I find it is just sitting high in the channel and so the fret shoulder is not down on the surface of the fretboard... I would say this is the case 95% of the time.
So ease the high fret (or frets) gently down into its fretboard cut and it should ring clear again.
I start my set-ups by artificially lowering the bridge so the whole neck is a bit buzzy; this makes any high frets choke completely and so are harder for you to over-look them.
When all the high frets have been eased down you raise the bridge again to your required clarity.
Mark P.............

ps. I also cut the string grooves in the nut while the strings are dropped low and buzzy.
 

Tjeppen

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Do you put your neck perfectly straight before leveling ? Use a notched straight edge as then your neck is
straight, not the frets.
 

Ronkirn

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Do you put your neck perfectly straight before leveling ?
Perfectly?? not achievable... however you DO want it as "flat" as you can get it.. within reason ... check out my post #58..

then once the frets are leveled, and the guitar is strung and tuned.. you adjust the truss rod to allow the tension of the strings to "pull" a very slight bow in the neck...

Fret the G 3rd at the first and twenty first frets simultaniously, then check clearence around the mid section,, say frets 7 - 10.. there should be about .010 clearence, BUT that depends on you playing style.. Heavy hitters may require more.. say .032. which is about the thickness of a credit card...

and I agree with mdPhillips.. however on a neck with a lacquered maple fingerboard.. the lacquer acts as a glue... adjusting a fret a few thousandths can "break" the lacquer, resulting in a fret that is more of a pain than anything else..
 

doblander

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When I started building, I started leveling with the Stewmac fret rocker because it's what I had available. Later I got a piece of corian and was going to go with the beam method, but it ended up taking more off the the first few frets than any of the others even though, according to the fret rocker, things were in good shape there, so I hadn't used that method since.

I'm now working on another fret level and figured I'd try the beam method again. I again ran into the problem of it taking more off the first couple frets than anything else, even though the fret rocker showed those frets to be in good shape. I tried flipping the beam end-for-end and holding it closer to the frets in question (mainly 17-19), but it still seems to be taking more off the first few. Both times I've tried this method, I've used a straight edge to make sure my neck was straight prior to commencing.

Am I the only one who struggles with this technique, or am I missing something?

Thanks.
I have leveled the frets on MANY necks. The MOST important thing I have learned is NEVER EVER use a fret levelling beam!!!! Straighten the neck of course, mask the wood between frets and use (I use) a points (ignition points) file. See Amazon. This file is perfect. Use the fret rocker as normal and black marker high spots. File those high spots down and recheck for perfection. Up (or down) the neck you go. File, check, repeat and recheck again. This way you can achieve perfection without ripping off huge amounts of fret material UNNECESSARILY!! That same little points file is excellent for reshaping, crowning the frets you have treated AND it is the best fret end smoothing machine ever. You have to refine your fret surfaces with sanding and polishing as usual upon completion. Levelling beams and crowning tools are nothing but gimmicks that harm rather than repair. In EVERY CASE where points file levelling is painstakingly done you can install strings on that guitar and you DO NOT need to introduce relief by using the truss rod. The string tension will provide some minimal relief. Very minimal! But you will NOT hear any fret buzz. Obviously you will have to shim neck and adjust saddles after every levelling "experience". You got a shred neck now with deadly low action instead of a butchered mess from a beam. Try this, it's cheap and ultimate!
 

Thebluesman

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butchered mess????from using a beam....=holding, manipulating, wrong technique applied, not preparing the neck first etc...will butcher frets etc =The operator at fault here.
Success with a beam etc-Ask those who use/have used a beam..to level frets.. and attained it satisfactorily .
 

Thebluesman

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Why do you have to shim the neck?....unless it requires it after the guitar has been set up and issues have arisen etc=neck angle adjustment...to now attain the suitable action desired.
 

gb Custom Shop

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Man, all this back and forth is making a simple task overly complicated. Like I said before, you just gotta go for it and keep it simple. You don't learn how to swim when you're on land...

Straighten your fretboard. Level with something flat & without flex. In essence, that's all you gotta do.

Sorry but it's pointless to continue this discussion unless you've at least tried. This ain't rocket appliances
 

Kurbmaster

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Could it be that the greater concentration of frets toward the heel causes that area to level more slowly than where the concentration of frets isn't as great...toward the nut?
Bingo. That's exactly what's happening, and I speak from having done hundreds of fret jobs since 1975.
 

eallen

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With a shorter beam you'd be able to avoid frets that don't need it.
A shorter beam means your frets arent all leveled to each other. Those that don't need it aren't always segregated on one end. They may be periodic down the neck. Done right you arent removing any material from those but are leveling all others to the height of those that don't need it.

A fret rocker is great for finding those individual spots that need it. It only levels a fret in relation to the ones adjacent to it. In theory one would think you can get a level fret job by rockers alone. Been there, tried it & leveld frets for others who tried it as well. Unfortunately it does not take into consideration the accumulated tolerance over the span of 22 or more frets. A thousandths of an inch here and there & half way down the board the frets check level with a rocker to those near by but can be a couple thousands higher or lower than 8 frets away. Don't get me wrong, I use a rocker to check every fret after level in multiple locations as well as a fret kisser to shave high spots when a neck checks good otherwise. Rockers are a great tool for use on a previously leveled neck.
 




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