Where to get supplies?

teletail

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I decided to try to polish my frets rather than take my guitar to a repairman. I need a fret guard and some fine sandpaper according to the Youtube videos I've watched. I went to StewMac and with shipping, it was almost $50. Is there a less expensive place to get supplies?

Thanks!
 

gb Custom Shop

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You could alternatively use a low-tack tape instead of a fret guard. Be wary of some of those cheap fret gaurds - some of them have unrefined burrs that can scratch up your board.

As for sandpaper, a local woodworking shop should stock some good quality paper, and then you can bypass the shipping costs. Lee Valley has a good array of sanding products (I typically use Mirka brand paper & synthetic steel wool)

But if you really want a mirror shine on those frets, buffing is the way to go. I find this best done with a Dremel
 

teletail

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You could alternatively use a low-tack tape instead of a fret guard. Be wary of some of those cheap fret gaurds - some of them have unrefined burrs that can scratch up your board.

As for sandpaper, a local woodworking shop should stock some good quality paper, and then you can bypass the shipping costs. Lee Valley has a good array of sanding products (I typically use Mirka brand paper & synthetic steel wool)

But if you really want a mirror shine on those frets, buffing is the way to go. I find this best done with a Dremel
Thanks for the tip. I'm not really looking for a shine. I just bought a 70's guitar and it has some minor roughness on the frets above the 12th fret. I'm really just looking to get that off. Good to know about the fret guard. I'm not looking to go so cheap that I damage my guitar.
 

Si G X

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Yeah I don''t use fret guards either, tape is fine (although I have had a few mishaps over the years... old damaged delicate finish can easily be made worse)

I'd just pick up a sheet of fine wet&dry from a hardware shop. ... or even just some kind of mild abrasive metal polish for a few bucks.
 

schmee

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I decided to try to polish my frets rather than take my guitar to a repairman. I need a fret guard and some fine sandpaper according to the Youtube videos I've watched. I went to StewMac and with shipping, it was almost $50. Is there a less expensive place to get supplies?

Thanks!
All you need are masking tape and 600 grit wet sand paper. Mask the fretboard, the shields are a PITA anyway except when just doing a fret or two. Sand along the fret with light water on the paper. No block just your fingers.

If you want frets to look like a mirror get a Dremel tool and small cotton wheel. I use that with 3M Finesses It polish. It takes less than 10 seconds a fret and they will look like a mirror.
You only need the sandpaper if they are really rough.

Finesse it is expensive and there may be a similar auto equivalent, but the Finesse It is superb stuff. A container will last you 10 years and it's great for spot polishing your car too!
THIS ONE: marine store locally, Amazon, etc
569486_1500.09052018013034.jpg
 
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telemnemonics

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Just polish not level or crown?
Blue painters tape, look for the narrow widths plus a 3/4" roll.
Depending on what caused the roughness on an old guitar, I dont know that you need sandpaper that will make them extra rough, unless you mean like 600 grit emery paper?
600 will smooth but not polish.

There is a rabid posse that freaks about 0000 steel wool, presumably because they tried it once when drunk or know a slob who steel wooled over the pickups.

Takes less time to remove the neck or mask the neck pickup that it takes to order from stew mac!

If the roughness is so bad the strings grind when bending, possibly due to a hack leveling them with medium grit sandpaper and leaving them rough?
Yon may need a leveling beam to remove deep scratches without making them uneven enough to get some fretting out.
 

Boreas

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I second the masking tape. I also like 3M scratchy pads instead of steel wool for final polishing. White = 0000 and light gray = 0. I USUALLY use S/M's Touch Up Sticks, for most of my fret work, but I get free shipping. THese are similar, but twice as thick for some reason. Never tried them.

2022-07-05_12h18_01.jpg
 

Boreas

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I also like sanding sponges similar to these for much of my work. They work nice on balsa because the wood is so soft, a fingernail can ruin a surface. These you can wrap on a finger and run up and down the neck.

2022-07-05_12h22_12.jpg
 

unixfish

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I've done this.

#1: Take a garbage bag, and bag the body, only leaving the neck exposed. I use blue painter's tape to close everything up. Make sure the body is sealed tight.

#2: Tape off the fingerboard, just leaving the frets exposed using the blue painter's tape. Any store that carries paint will have this.

#3: Tape off the edge of the fretboard, perpendicular to the frets.

#4: 0000 steel wool the frets to clean them off.

#5: Strong vacuum with a brush end to get the steel wool completely off. Buff with a cloth, and repeat vacuum and buff.

#5: Meguiars #2 fine cut cleaner on the frets; a little elbow grease will clean them up and polish them nice. This stuff is made to polish and clean clear-coat on your car, so it won't dig or gouge. Most auto parts stores will have this, and it's $15 to $20 per bottle which should last forever for frets.

#6: Buff. Change rags. Buff. Final buff. The cleaner comes off fairly easily.

#7: Clean the bag, tape, and area. Remove neck and fret tape. Carefully remove bag. Marvel at the beauty.

This process is a P.I.T.A., but it does a good job cheaply.

Supplies - $25 worth and should last quite a while.
Meguiars #2 Fine Cut Polish
Blue Painter's Tape 1"

I'm not sure this is the best way to do it, but it's inexpensive and only takes an hour or so.
 

jays0n

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I use some Micro Mesh I got from eBay, like this:


$9.00 for a piece. I cut off small pieces and use until … ugly then cut another piece. Lasts a long time really.
 

unixfish

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Actually, I have also used a Scotch-Brite pad after taping. This avoids the whole bagging issues. There are different grits for true Scotch-Brite, so make sure you are using the one that is "equivalent" to 0000 steel wool.
 

Boreas

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Actually, I have also used a Scotch-Brite pad after taping. This avoids the whole bagging issues. There are different grits for true Scotch-Brite, so make sure you are using the one that is "equivalent" to 0000 steel wool.
White is 0000. Light grey is 0.
 

Freeman Keller

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Lots of different approaches. Another version of the fret protector is an old eraser shield that draftspeople (I'm being PC) used to use, if you know an engineer or architect they may have one. I use it when filing on frets, usually not when polishing

IMG_2944.JPG


I usually file with a 300 grit diamond file, then I start polishing with 400 grit wet and dry paper (dry) and go up to 800 or 1000. Finish that with 0000 steel wool and bob's your uncle.

Buffing with a wheel (dremel) and compound runs the risk of overheating the frets and damaging both fretboard and binding if you have any. I'll also add that the above comments pertain to unfinished fretboards, a finished maple board is a lot more work and I have mostly stopped doing them. If your board is finished maple don't rely on the eraser shield, do a really good job of masking the frets and be very careful.
 

old wrench

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Klingspors Woodworking Store is a good source for a lot of the stuff we use for building and finishing guitars

I've bought lacquer, wood filler, sandpaper, etc. from them - fair prices and quick shipping

Their sandpaper is excellent quality and they have just about any grit in just about every configuration (sheet, belt, disc, pad) you could want.

They also make custom sized sanding belts if you happen to have a machine that takes an odd-ball sized belt

They have a web store as well as a few "real" stores in the Carolinas


.
 

old wrench

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For low-priced fret polishing supplies close to home -

- Purple low-tack masking tape at any box store

- Fine-grit wet or dry sandpaper at your local auto parts store

You supply your own elbow-grease (cold beverage?) and back-ground music :)


edit - I have a few of the stainless fret-guards, but I've never been very happy with them - they end up slipping or bowing up in the middle or some other aggravating thing -

They might be OK for working on just one or two frets, but if I'm doing the whole neck, I'm always better off to do it right and properly protect the neck by using tape
.
 
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