Fret levelling prior to glueing FB to neck?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    here is why I do it...

    I make a variety of different style necks with different neck heels and joint methods.

    I usually do a fancier inlay than clay dots and I frequently bind my necks. Both are much easier with the f/b off the neck

    IMG_4049.JPG

    My guitars have all sorts of different things going on where the fretboard lays over the body. Might be a bolted or dovetail acoustic

    IMG_5132.JPG

    Might be a weird little wedge on an archtop with a dovetail

    IMG_3518.JPG

    Might be a Gibson style tenon were the body supports the f/b

    IMG_2560.JPG

    Might be a classical guitar where the neck is built into the body. (Classicals are kind of interesting - since they normally don't have truss rods relief is usually planed into the neck or fretboard. When I built mine I fretted the board, then clamped it to the neck to measure how much relief I was going to have. Again, since there was minimal leveling required I could do that with spot leveling)

    DSCN1288.JPG

    Might even be a screwed together Fender neck

    IMG_4691.JPG

    When you look at each of those and think about how you will hammer, press or otherwise insert frets into the freboard while it is attached to the guitar you will realize that about the only one you can do before the f/b is on is the Fender. Its the only neck that can be reliably supported for the full length while you hammer or press.

    I did a few necks with f/b glued on and ended up doing a lot of leveling because I just couldn't get even pressure on each fret. Then this happened. I had a nice Martin style neck about half done, inlay installed and f/b in place.

    IMG_5535.JPG

    Installed the frets. Didn't have the board supported as well as I thought

    IMG_5534.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Since then I have always fretted the board before gluing it on. I make sure the front and back of the board are perfectly flat sanded to my big heavy beam, and I make sure the neck surface is dead flat including the joint and the extension

    IMG_4018.JPG

    Most of the time I press frets in but it really doesn't matter if I press or hammer - the board is completely supported the entire length

    IMG_5038.JPG

    With good cauls and enough clamps any backbow is easily eliminated. If any remains its easy to take out with a double acting truss rod

    IMG_5049.JPG

    I can have the neck perfectly sized and bound to fit whatever body contours I'm dealing with, and I can fret over the body without fear of doing damage

    IMG_2050.JPG

    The first thing I do whenever I install a fret is run a 2 thousands feeler gauge around the crown - if it slips under I know the fret isn't seated and I give it a tap or two until it is. Since the board is flat that pretty much insures that the crowns are pretty close to level, but as the original question, I don't do any further leveling until the f/b is on the neck.

    I'll just add another perspective. I've probably done 20 necks this way, they all came out good, most have required minimal leveling. I also refret guitars for some of the local players - most of the time that needs to be done with the necks on the guitar and the fretboard is on the neck. I prefer to do complete refrets so I can work on the entire fretboard, partials are almost more work. I can safely say that I have a lot more leveling when I fret on the guitar than the way I do new necks.

    So short story. If you only do Fender necks it might be easier to fret after the board is glued. Certainly if you do one piece necks you don't have a choice. If you press frets from the sides its probably the best option. If you make other kinds of necks and can figure out a good way to support them, go for it. If you do a lot of refretting you don't have a choice. However, this works for me, much better than other things I've tried and until something better comes along I'll keep fretting before gluing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  3. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    Yip, thx Freeman, that's exactly why I did frets before the fretboard is glued to the neck...

    A through-neck guitar ;)
     
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I want to see what you are building. I haven't built a through neck (yet) but think it would be tricky to fret with the board on.
     
  5. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    I'll do a post once the guitar is done, but the sequence was to complete the fretboard (incl. frets) before I glue it to the neck/ body. Hence me asking about fret levelling before it goes on, but obviously I'll rather wait.

    Here's a mock up - only 2 locating pins holding the fretboard in place. Neck is cut-out and shaping of the neck commenced (zero deg/ Fender style neck)
    IMG_20190713_101451.jpeg
     
    Freeman Keller and Jim_in_PA like this.
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