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How accurate should fret slots be?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Holic

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    I don't own a Stu Mac Jig, and I don't have a table saw
    The few necks I've made, I've always resolved to use a CNC machine to scribe fret positions on my fretboads before using a hand saw (like a Japanese thin blade) to cut fret slots. This has been hugely successful. However, it is a pain to get access to the cnc, and ask a favour every time, etc.

    Does anyone use a caliper to mark out fret positions? I've not been able to print fret positions on paper accurately, after numerous tries, it just ain't accurate enough, hence why I opted for the cnc route. (I saw by hand because of the tiny bit requirements needed to cut by cnc)

    IMG_20190412_131335.jpeg
    It got me thinking. How did Leo and his buddies cut frets, and to what accurately. I mean these days, guys will let you believe that 100th of a mm accuracy is needed or at least more tha a 10th of mm, but back in the early fifties (let along the 20's or earlier), I'm sure they didn't even get accuracy of 1/64 inch when cutting slots. Obviously they used some jig, but with mass production done by hand, not fancy cnc to cut slots for the masses, or Stu mac jigs on a table saw (which I doubt has 1/64" accuracy), it couldn't have been all that accurate.

    And the bigger question is, how inaccurate should the fret slots be before our ears picks it up?

    What's your thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
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  2. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    They did it using a "gang saw" which is a circular blade for each slot, all mounted on a single horizontal arbor and driven by a belt over a pulley at one end.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Oldsmobum

    Oldsmobum Tele-Holic

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    so is this why the nut slot is also radiused?

    Too cool.
     
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  4. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Make them as accurate as you can.

    When I first started out I had a simple miter box with fret lines scribed on the fretboard with a machinist's rule and hobby knife.

    Hideo Kamimoto had a book that included fret placement tables. I converted them into x/64ths. I put a flashlight in front of my saw and when the scribed line lined up with the beam of light, I clamped it down. Nobody ever complained that the notes were out of tune.


    Amazon.com: Complete Guitar Repair (9780825601569): Kamimoto, Hideo: Books
     
  6. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have printed out scales from Fret2find with good results. My advice is DON'T glue them, use an oak stick and make a template. I later found Elmer's Spray Adhesive in the Craft department that worked well. The key is no water based glue ;)
     
  7. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I have laid mine out with dividers and a scale, works fine. We are obsessed with accuracy because it is available but a guitar is an imperfect instrument. Unless you can apply perfect pressure every time regardless of position with a guitar that is reasonably intonated the best you can hope for is really close.
     
  8. papaschtroumpf

    papaschtroumpf Tele-Holic

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    As long as you measure from the nut to each fret, and not from one fret to the next where errors are cumulative, I find a good ruler is sufficient.
     
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  9. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Holic

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    Yes, thanks for posting this. I too have wondered why the nut slot has a radius.

    Cheers
     
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  10. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Holic

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    Ok nothing wrong with that accuracy :cool:
     
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  11. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Holic

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  12. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My 2 cents. The fretboard is the most critical part of the guitar. If you plan on doing this as a hobby and can afford it, invest in a quality saw and miterbox system. All hobbies require an investment if you want to get the most of out it. While a partial set of bent golf clubs from a thrift store might let you play golf, a decent set might be better for your game down the road. LOL.


    You can make a decent fret saw system yourself. Buy an LMII or Stewmac template and their pin for it. Buy a real fret slotting saw. Then make a simple quality plywood miter box system around it. The LMII or Stewmac templates should be cnc milled, not laser cut, which will be less accurate.

    My first fret slot system ( which I still have) was from LMII in the 1980's. A plywood miter box with brass adjustable angle for the saw. I ended up replacing the angle with baltic birch ply guides. The key part was the pin and template.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I built a box that used the tang of an upside-down fret to index with grooves on the underside of a board that the fretboard was stuck to, if that makes sense. I bought a stewmac FB and used that to locate slots on a piece of acrylic, and then the acrylic became my index for other FBs.

    I cut a few that way, and then I decided to let stewmac do it for me after that. :D It’s just so much easier...
     
  14. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you have a quality guitar in your hands, you have the ideal 'template' for a fretboard.

    Use a scrap of wood or the back of a yardstick and align it with the side of the neck. Using the point of an X-Acto knife (not a pencil) mark the wood on each side of each fret's tang as well as the nut. You can transfer these marks to any hunk of wood or other material you're using as a fretboard.
     
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  15. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Always my main method, cloning
     
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  16. Rjelecaster

    Rjelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Sketch the nut and frets up, print in 1:1, place on fretboard and scribe each slot through with an exacto knife.
     
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  17. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah that is a great site any scale length can be made from there also good advice on using glue it warps printer paper
    i use A4 self adhesive when printing any templates instant accurate results
     
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  18. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Holic

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    Spring for a fret template and miterbox and a good fret saw.

    I've used fret 2 find. But as most people said, glue alters the paper. If you hold it taut and glue it down, you've lengthened your scale length considerably.

    And what a pain in the....a....

    I had to make a template once for a 24 inch. To my dismay I found no one makes them. I'd like to buy one so if anyone find s someone who makes them, I'd be so happy.


    But yeah I bought 25.5, 24.75, 28 baritone, 34 bass.

    If it were me trying to do this on the cheap.

    I'd buy a 24 inch ruler that measures to 64ths if not 128ths.

    I'd buy a kiridashi(Japanese marking knife)

    I'd make a miter box.

    This is the one thing you have to get right, and relatedly, bridge placement. Spend the money.
     
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  19. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Make your own. Roll up your 24.75" template and hie thee to a place with a high-quality laser copier (Kinko's, UPS Store, etc.)

    24 is 96.969696% of 24.75. Set the copier to print 97% (or 96.96% if the copier allows; some do) and you will be right in the pocket.

    MATH, baby!
     
  20. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Or simply do what Fender did for a 24 inch template for the Mustang and DuoSonic, take the standard 25.5 fret rule, set the first fret as your nut and have a nice day. It's a fraction over 24, but who cares :lol:
     
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