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

highwaycat

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The way you Learn how to do this is:
Buy cheap used guitars, do fret stuff then sell em, then buy some more cheap guitars, do more fret stuff then sell em, keep buying more cheap guitars, do some good fret stuff, then when you got the hang if it show it to a knowledgeable person maybe they’ll give you a tip.
Then buy more guitars n necks, and keep doing it!
Then you’ll be in the I’ve done hundreds of fret jobs club.

You can level all or even just one fret at a time. Million ways to do it.
 

Freeman Keller

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For what it is worth, during the short time this thread has been revived I have refretted one guitar and leveled and dressed the frets on two others. I've dealt with a couple of issues, made two new saddles and returned the guitars to their owners (one is still under my bench waiting for a switch). Its just not rocket science.
 
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Swingcat

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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.
You may already know all this, but just in case.....
So.. are you adjusting the truss rod to make the FINGERBOARD is dead level before you start the process?
I adjust TR till fingerboard is dead level with no tension on the neck, then use a felt pen to color all the fret tops.
THEN mill with a long leveler. Check at this point with the rocker. When you have all the fret crowns even, tighten the TR a little (unless you can access the rod with strings installed & tuned).
NOW, string it up and tune to pitch, and check everything again. At this point, especially with a brand new neck, you may find a couple of rockers still, so very carefully, file the high frets. It should be very close, so don't take much off.
Now it's time to redcrown the frets. I again use the felt pen to color the crowns. Then use the crowning files to round off the crowns till there's just a very thin line of ink in the center of each crown.
Smooth and polish the frets, and Bob's yer uncle!
Now play the crap out of it with a big grin on your face!!!!!
 

Swingcat

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For what it is worth, during the short time this thread has been running I have refretted one guitar and leveled and dressed the frets on two others. I've dealt with a couple of issues, made two new saddles and returned the guitars to their owners (one is still under my bench waiting for a switch). Its just not rocket science.
Nope, just logic and being meticulous!!
 

dannydav709

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Keep this in mind.. specially those that are laboring under the quest for absolute perfection..

a neck is wood... wood is in a constant state of flux. Even the most stable of woods isn't... it's in one shape one day, another the next... it goes through the changes daily, day after day.... fortunately most of the time the changes due to the flexing etc., occur within a margin of error that still allows ya to play the guitar. But that is why your guitar may play like "buttah" one day, and a royal PO CRAP the next....

Now untill someone figures out how to get wood to stop reactng to subtle changes in the environment in which it finds itself.. it's gonna continue to bend, twist flex, and screw with ya... forever.. it's part of playing guitar.. deal with it..

but that said... until anyone touting superior precision figures out how to guess what your neck will be like tomorrow, next week, next month... next anything.. and allow you to compensate for what it's gonna be doing ... the process I have outlined in the Fret Leveling thread is ALL you need to hugely improve the playability of a guitar... pretty much any guitar because the only guitars that are leveled and crowned are high end customs... that rules out about everything you order off the internet..

and, don't get seduced by the Plek hype.. or a hugely expensive array of Stew Mac tools... or even a 70.00 leveling beam. (although I do use one simply because that what guys expect to see in a shop) Some things ya just gotta do for the optics ya know...

Just buy ya a 10.00 aluminum 24" level from, . . hell, i dunno, Home Depot.. and some stick on sandpaper roll and level the shi* outta those turkeys and enjoy..
I see. Yeah this is great intuition on the topic. So the leveling beam from home depot doesn't need to be as precision flat as people say? Or is it still better to get the best that you can?
 

dannydav709

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Keep this in mind.. specially those that are laboring under the quest for absolute perfection..

a neck is wood... wood is in a constant state of flux. Even the most stable of woods isn't... it's in one shape one day, another the next... it goes through the changes daily, day after day.... fortunately most of the time the changes due to the flexing etc., occur within a margin of error that still allows ya to play the guitar. But that is why your guitar may play like "buttah" one day, and a royal PO CRAP the next....

Now untill someone figures out how to get wood to stop reactng to subtle changes in the environment in which it finds itself.. it's gonna continue to bend, twist flex, and screw with ya... forever.. it's part of playing guitar.. deal with it..

but that said... until anyone touting superior precision figures out how to guess what your neck will be like tomorrow, next week, next month... next anything.. and allow you to compensate for what it's gonna be doing ... the process I have outlined in the Fret Leveling thread is ALL you need to hugely improve the playability of a guitar... pretty much any guitar because the only guitars that are leveled and crowned are high end customs... that rules out about everything you order off the internet..

and, don't get seduced by the Plek hype.. or a hugely expensive array of Stew Mac tools... or even a 70.00 leveling beam. (although I do use one simply because that what guys expect to see in a shop) Some things ya just gotta do for the optics ya know...

Just buy ya a 10.00 aluminum 24" level from, . . hell, i dunno, Home Depot.. and some stick on sandpaper roll and level the shi* outta those turkeys and enjoy..
Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something, so that we don't ever have to deal with this lousy nature of wood ever again? Is there something special about wood that we keep using it?
 

Old Verle Miller

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Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something, so that we don't ever have to deal with this lousy nature of wood ever again? Is there something special about wood that we keep using it?
The latest iteration of applying new technology is carbon-fiber, but personally, I just don't hear what I'm expecting out of them. And as I understand it, you can get a custom-made carbon-fiber Telecaster neck for about $1K but it takes months to get it.

And personally, I like working with wood and all of its foibles.
 

gb Custom Shop

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Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something, so that we don't ever have to deal with this lousy nature of wood ever again? Is there something special about wood that we keep using it?
There are all metal necks out there. Never tried one myself, but some look pretty cool. I also saw one where the entire fretboard (frets included) was milled from a solid blank of 304 ss. There's also glass necks, carbon fibre necks...

But I could probably list 100 reasons why I'd prefer a wooden neck. That discussion would be best for an entirely different thread.
 

eallen

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I see. Yeah this is great intuition on the topic. So the leveling beam from home depot doesn't need to be as precision flat as people say? Or is it still better to get the best that you can?
I have used a 24" machine level with a different grits on each edge for the past decade. The key for a nice tolerance is long for the machine swirl Mark's on the edges rather than just a cast surface.

As Ron has posted many times before, a piece of scrap counter top granite from the local granite supplier is excellent. Definitely no need to spend a fortune!
 

Freeman Keller

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Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something, so that we don't ever have to deal with this lousy nature of wood ever again? Is there something special about wood that we keep using it?
For what it is worth, the last neck I built I put two carbon fiber rods in next to the truss rod. The guitar has a floating finger board extension over the upper bout and I wanted to give that as much stiffness as I could. It almost made the rest of the neck too stiff - with 165 pounds of tension it only pulls 3 thousands of relief. Enough but just barely

IMG_7220-1.jpg


It is nice to have the CF in the head however, that is a notoriously weak spot and I had to put the truss rod adjuster at the head.
 

Ronkirn

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Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something
the bottom like is.. Guitarists are traditionalists at heart... if it's not made like they did in the 50's and 60's .. there just isn't enough of a market out there to support something like a graphite guitar...
 

doblander

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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 .
You are right! I was incorrect to say that a beam messes up a levelling job. It does NOT when in competent hands.
 

Thebluesman

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You are right! I was incorrect to say that a beam messes up a levelling job. It does NOT when in competent hands.
Its attaining the competency, the confidence.. use of the tool that IS the learning curve to aspire too. There is no short cut here. Bad workman blames his tools applies etc.
 

mistermikev

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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'll tell you... getting this part of a build dialed in can be very frustrating... or was for me at first. it's not easy to see where you are going wrong. my most recent... action is 1.25mm @ 12th fret on low/hi e and no buzz on any fret any string.

things I'd watch out for...
-If you are building the neck in the garage... do NOT open the garage door through the whole process and get the neck built, frets leveled/dressed, and finish on before taking it out of that exact environment!

-constantly check that your fretboard/frets/neck is/are straight as can be. after cutting the truss rod channel, after cutting the back profile, and prior to putting in the frets... then check it again after they are in! you might want to give it a few days between each too because unfinished wood - even in a dry environment like here in az... will move.

-use a triangle file to hit the fret slots and just take a hair off the top of the slot to ensure if there is any "curve" where the fret bottom transitions to meet the tang... there is room for it.

-make sure that RIGHT B4 you put in the frets in you clean those slots. can't count the times I got dust in there after I thought I cleaned them. or i put on binding and glue seeped into the fret slot.

-i think it is not mentioned, and easy to miss... don't screw up your leveling job with your finish sanding/buffing/dressing routine!

hope something there helps!
 

Freeman Keller

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the bottom like is.. Guitarists are traditionalists at heart... if it's not made like they did in the 50's and 60's .. there just isn't enough of a market out there to support something like a graphite guitar...

IMG_3812.JPG


IMG_3813.JPG


There is but you have to modify your expectations of what it should sound like.
 

Fenderbaum

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Why can't we make guitar necks out of, say, metal or something, so that we don't ever have to deal with this lousy nature of wood ever again? Is there something special about wood that we keep using it?
Metal, Aluminum and other alloys expands and contracts in temperature changes..
I work in the metal business, when we for instance mount fasade plates we always leave a gap of 3mm+ between them (Dependable on the size of the plates) so the metal can move. Especially in winter months when the aluminum has shrunk. Once the sun comes out and the heat arrives, the aluminum expands again, filling those 3mm gaps and avoids anything warping. Therefore, metal would be a disastrous material to make a neck of.
You do have Carbonfiber guitars that can handle the most extreme temperature condition change.
Wood is much more stable on contraction and expanding, but it moves in "other ways".
 

Moldy Oldy

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They make aluminum necks. I Googled for 5 minutes and found 3 or 4 companies making them for around $700 - $1,000. I played a aluminum necked bass once. I remember the main sensation was that it was cold, which I did not like.
 




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