Fret polishing

theleman

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My old Tele copy had badly tarnished frets. It looks it had been just sitting there for years without being played.
When changing the strings, I gave them a polish with finger nail files, and then very fine sandpaper.
They have been clean up nicely, and now looks good.

But I was wondering, if there would be any difference in the tone after polishing frets, or would it be just for looks and feels.
Do you polish or clean the frets each time when changing the strings on your guitars?
 

Si G X

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I give them a wipe over when changing strings but actual polishing only happens occasionally, or sometimes only once... once they are highly polished they seem to stay that way for the most part. I use metal polish to finish and they polish up like chrome.
 

Boreas

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Mine may get polished every year or two. But I have about 20 guitars, so none of them get played a lot.

But unless your frets are really chewed up, your technique is pretty harsh - more abrasive than necessary. If mine just need a polish, I use something like this:

2022-05-06_10h34_41.jpg

Three grits of micro-mesh does fixes light scratches and polishes very well. One stick does about 3 necks. Or some people just use a polish or tarnish remover. You can also use the WHITE 3M Scotchbrite pads that are used for cleaning/polishing some metals.
 

nickmsmith

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My old Tele copy had badly tarnished frets. It looks it had been just sitting there for years without being played.
When changing the strings, I gave them a polish with finger nail files, and then very fine sandpaper.
They have been clean up nicely, and now looks good.

But I was wondering, if there would be any difference in the tone after polishing frets, or would it be just for looks and feels.
Do you polish or clean the frets each time when changing the strings on your guitars?
Only if they were pretty rough. If so, you can hear the strings grinding when you bend.

Outside that, I don’t think so
 

NoTeleBob

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I've polished a number of them that I purchased used. In fact, probably every guitar that I've purchased used.

But yes, fingernail files are probably over the top. If they are really bad and corroded I might start with something like 1000 grit. Then move up to 1500 paper or a polishing compound up there. Sometimes I go up another step on the compound too but that's really overkill.
 

telepraise

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Grey scotchbrite should be enough to deal with tarnish, I think it's about equivalent to 1500 grit. On a new install or a level and crown I go the final step to polishing with jeweler's rouge on a felt wheel with the dremel tool. It is glass smooth and only takes about 15 additional minutes. The thing about polishing them is that it seems like gunk is less inclined to stick to them and they hold that sheen for years. I've had a set of EVO frets in a mandolin for almost 10 years and have never cleaned them at all. Bending is over course smooth but 0 effect on tone.
 

Freeman Keller

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I clean the fretboard on any guitar with a damp rag every time I change strings. If the frets and/or board is at all dirty I clean them with 0000 steel wool. When I dress frets the final stage is cleaning with steel wool. I don't own lacquered fret boards so that isn't an issue. I also do not polish with a dremel because of the heat generated - you can damage binding and glue if it was used in fretting.
 

Wallaby

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I've used Micro-mesh pads and the "Fret Erasers" for this, stepping through the grits in order.

I have a quart of Flitz that I'll never use a fraction of, so I might try it on frets some time, but it's messy and smells funny, and a shade of blue that would look bad ground into the grain of a rosewood board.
 

SRHmusic

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Stew-Mac sells a micromesh 'kit' of several grades from about 800 up to 12000 (not exactly equivalent grits to sandpaper, I think, but generally gives you an idea of how fine these get). Protect the fretboard with tape or those little metal shields.

It's really nice to have polished frets under the fingers. Bending is very smooth. (Looks good on stage, too, with the glint of the lights reflecting when you move around.) As far as tone? No big deal, but bending should be smoother and more consistent, and you might feel better with a cleaner feeling guitar.
 

Personal Gsus

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I've only used 0000 steel wool for polishing frets with no negative results.

Many believe that's a no-no, but if done properly you won't have any fallout.
Why do some people think steel wool is a no-no? I just recently started using 0000 because it seems to be just as effective while being cheaper than the specialized polishers – but if I'm making a mistake, I'd like to know.
 

Radspin

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Bits of steel wool can come off and stick your pickups because of the magnetism. If you mask off the guitar with the right kind of tape it should not be a problem.
 

schmee

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3M Finesse It and a Dremel with a firm felt cotton wheel. 5 seconds per fret and they are like a mirror. Literally. Way beyond what 0000 steel wool will do. You'll have to protect the board from splatter though.

download.jpg finesse.jpg
 

brookdalebill

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I've only used 0000 steel wool for polishing frets with no negative results.

Many believe that's a no-no, but if done properly you won't have any fallout.

Yep, I like steel wool too, works great.

Bits of steel wool can come off and stick your pickups because of the magnetism. If you mask off the guitar with the right kind of tape it should not be a problem.
Joining the chorus.
I do the steel wool-polish thing at my Wednesday day job.
To circumvent the pickups growning a beard, I mask of the pickups with low tack tape, and get busy.
It takes about 5 minutes.
It definitely helps both playability and appearance.
 
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