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Fretwork

Fretwork

Fretwork is a pretty common term for the work required to level and recrown or even replace frets. This is a pretty common bit of required maintenance as frets will wear down during the life of your guitar. There are different kinds of fret material from nickle silver to stainless steel and everything in between. The hardness of the fret material and frequency of playing will determine the life of the fret. I usually start any kind of fretwork by taping off the fretboard and body to prevent damage to the wood or finish.

After taping off the entire fretboard, I use a flat piece of metal with attached sanding paper to evenly grind down each fret just enough so that all frets have a flat surface and are of equal height. This part is VERY IMPORTANT! It is also very important to match the radius of the fretboard when filing down frets.
Next, it is important to re-apply the crown to the top of the fret. This means that I will be using a special file with a round grinding surface to file down just the sides of the fret. This creates an optimal fretting surface and precise intonation over each fret.
The two frets on the left have been polished, the two frets on the right need polishing. The point of polishing frets is to remove any tool marks from the fret file and make them bright and shiny again as if they were brand new. I can usually polish frets to a mirror finish without any tool marks or imperfections.

Finally, it is important to clean off your fretboard. Glue residue and little metal filings are not a good additive to the fretboard wood. I usually clean my fretboards off with naphtha, followed by Gorgomyte cleaning cloths. They work great and speed up clean up time quite a bit.

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