Fretting over fret job
So putting frets in even following the advice of Mark’s excellent tutorials is quite stressful!
Here’s my question... Despite my best efforts and triple checking all the parameters some of my frets did not seat entirely flush against the finger board. Some have perhaps a .002 gap here and there. Nothing feels loose but I’m wondering if I blew it or should I just carry on?
You’ve got frets that are sitting .002”above the fretboard? Get out of here you bloody amateur!!!
Haha, just kidding!
Don’t sweat it man, you haven’t blown it. How do you even measure .002” anyway? Do you have feeler guages?
Getting every fret perfectly seated on the board is not easy, it takes a fair amount of experience and some special tools help as well.
I’d say .002” is nothing and also nothing to worry about. Carry on with the job, you’re doing fine!
Pratice on scrap...
Dont be too hard on yourself. You're probably making a comparison with factory guitars which are mostly made on CNC machines these days and a hand built guitar is never going to achieve that level of accuracy. When I visited the Martin factory all the frets are installed in one go with a powerful press. Also you don't see the factory rejects which can be many. Mark has mentioned a few times about rejects when he worked in a factory.
Nothing feels loose but I’m wondering if I blew it or should I just carry on?
@usadave It’s fine Dave, carry on, seat them as best you can and so long as they are not loose, they will be fine. It’s not likely to ever get every fret perfect so get the superglue in and move onto the fret levelling bit, this makes sure all of the frets are at the same height. Once you have crowned and polished them, they will all be where they are supposed to be. Like Matt said, you can greatly improve the fret installation process with specialist equipment but that is something to work towards in the future. It’s good to do them with a hammer first so you know it can be done and that you know how to do it. If you get specialist equipment in the future and for some reason the machinery failed, you can fall back on the knowledge you have of a simple hammer. Specialist equipment is more accurate and consistent which means less levelling, crowning and polishing. Hammering means there will be more of that work to do to get them right but it’s all knowledge and experience.
Just remember, there is no pressure to get things right first time every time. This is a learning environment, this is where it is ok to make mistakes. Just take your time, go at your own pace and take regular breaks. Don’t overload yourself with the amount of work you want to do in each session, just set a realistic goal every time. I don’t think anyone really enjoys doing fretwork that much, it gets really tedious and the trouble with that is it can lead to fast and sloppy work because you just want to get it done. I usually get all my frets put in to the fretboard, snip all the ends off, bevel the ends and then go and do something else; I’ll then start with the fret level, crown and polish the next day or so. Maybe for your first time though, continue with the fretwork until you have done everything. It’s not a quick job, it takes ages to get it right. So long as you work safely, you have all the time you need.
And remember........ If at first you don’t succeed...... throw it in the bin and try again. 👍
Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk
Hey Dave, no worries. If paper cannot slide in it. Should be ok. Next time around, what really helped me, Mark has a method on radiusing pre cut fret wires by hand. I tend to do that even when I my fretwires are already radiused. I give a little nudge at the ends to slightly exagerate the radius. When I say slightly, I mean really really slightly. As I pound the ends in, it seems it locks in place and seats quite nicely.