fret re-seating vs. leveling?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Focusbob, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Focusbob

    Focusbob TDPRI Member

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    I have a travel chinese guitar that needs some fretwork; action needs to be set quite high to get rid of buzzing, fret rocker reveals unlevel frets all over the board (not wild rocking but small rocking in many regions). I would like to do it myself; I have all the requisite tools, but not a ton of experience. I've done one level and crown thus far that turned out ok.

    My main question is, how can I tell whether a given fret needs to be re-seated vs leveled with a file? The fact that there is rocking in many regions, leads me to believe unseated fret ends is not my primary problem, but I do allow for the possibility that the frets are both unlevel and some are unseated.

    I don't really know how to spot an unseated fret end unless it were extremely obvious; the only fret end I noticed that may have been elevated is pictured here. Specifically on the right side of the fret end on the picture. I can get the very edge of a fingernail under there. I gave it a few whacks with a deadblow hammer and I don't see much change. I don't see that sort of thing on my other guitars.

    So, I guess two part question: how do i fix this one fret (or should i?)? and how to spot lifted frets? Thanks!
     

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  2. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I think you already found the method to locate loose frets. If there's a gap between the fretboard and bottom of the fret, it's not seated properly.

    Fixing an unseated fret can involve a couple of methods. You can try clamping the fret down to see if you can get it to seat better. If so, you might be able to get some thin super glue to wick in there and help hold it down.

    If you can't clamp it down, then the fret needs to be removed in order to find the cause. Sometimes the slot isn't deep enough for the tang and needs to be made a little deeper. Sometimes the tang isn't grabbing the slot, and a crimping tool can help put edges in the tang so it grabs better.
     
  3. Ed Miller

    Ed Miller Tele-Meister

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    The real Gibson method. Straight from a former Gibson fret filer.

    Check the truss rod and make sure that it is adjusted correctly first thing. Next loosen the strings, and either pull them back out of the way or remove them. next take a straight edge and tap across the frets, listening for a dull thud. the thud indicates a loose fret. Tap them in with a hammer, and recheck to make sure they are now tight. you might need to put super glue in the slot if they don't stay down. Once you have all of the frets tight, then begin to look for high spots by using a straight edge that can span three frets and rock it on the frets. it will pivot on the high frets file the area with a mill file until the frets are all level; all the way across the fingerboard, all the way down the neck. after this, round all the frets with a fret file, and finish with abrasives and steel wool.
    Customarily, its pretty normal to use a rake on about the last 8-10 frets. just to save a bit of time.
    now you can restring, tune the guitar and "buzz" the frets. Check the truss rod adjustment first. The neck should look straight. Was most people think relief is was considered having a hollow in the neck, and was adjusted straight. Check the string height at the twelfth fret. A good general action for an acoustic guitar is 4/64th at the first string, and 6/64ths on the low E. Top of the fret to the bottom of the string. notice this action? its the same as Taylors 1/16th and 3/32. string height at the nut should always be done last.
     
  4. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Also might be some crud in the slot.

    What's wrong with that one fret? I can't see the problem. :confused:
     
  5. Focusbob

    Focusbob TDPRI Member

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    It is hard to see... one side of one fret end is slightly separated from the fretboard such that the edge of a fingernail or sheet of paper get caught on it. The rest of the fret is seated the same as the rest so im guessing a clamp isn't going to fix it (a hammer didn't). I may just leave it and level and crown (bc the fret rocker is rocking in many places not just here) and pulling the fret out etc is beyond me. Still some investigating to do.
     
  6. Focusbob

    Focusbob TDPRI Member

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    Here's that fret again, captured with a better camera; I think you can see better the separation from the fretboard.

    I tried hammering and clamping last night to no avail. At least I can say with confidence it probably won't be wiggling around in there...
     

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