Replacing Frets

Replacing Frets

Tools Needed

Flush-Bottomed End Nippers
Radius Block
Various Grits Of Sand Paper
Straight Edge
Fret Press or Hammer
Frets and Fret files.



The first step is to check the truss rod. You should back the tension on the truss rod nut off all the way. This will allow the frets to come out easier. Using an X-acto knife, cut on either side of each fret, this will limit chipping along side the frets.

Starting at the first fret, use the fret nippers to pull the fret out by starting at one end of the fret working towards the other end. Repeat this until all the frets are out.

Now, using a radius block, lightly sand the board with 300 grit sand paper to get rid of any roughness. (This is also a good time to figure out if you want a different radius for the finger-board.) If there is any bow in the neck (not typical) it will have to be leveled. Use a radius block with 120-grit sand paper to do this periodically checking for straightness. Once its straight go over the board with 220-grit and then 300-grit to get rid of any scratches. Make sure all the fret slots are clean and deep enough to accept the frets. This can be done with a fret saw.

Now, tighten the truss rod nut one and a half turns or until there is about 1/8" bow in the neck. You can check the bow by putting a straight edge on the neck and measuring the gap near the 8th fret.

Now it's time to fret!! Make sure you use pre-radiused frets. Start at the first fret, snip off enough wire for the fret plus about 1/4". Since this is a refret you can use superglue to help hold the frets in. (I prefer the gel superglue, it's not as messy) A little goes a long, long way. Useing a fret press or a fret hammer go ahead and put that puppy in the slot, Nip of the eccess and repeat until all the frets are in. It's a good idea to use a tang nipper to cut about 1/4" of tang on the fret prior to installation. It just makes it easier for dressing the frets.

Check the straightness again you should be pretty close to straight with maybe a slight backbow. Either way you will need to level the frets using a radius block with about 220-grit sand paper. Go over the frets very lightly until every fret has a flat surface on top. Now you will need to crown the frets. This is done with a crowning file. Crown each fret until there is just the slightest flat spot on each fret. Now use 500-grit wet/dry sand paper and go over each fret lightly until any roughness is gone. Its a good idea to time your self on the first fret and use that same time for all the other frets so they will all be equal.

Bevel the frets by using a beveling file or a standard flat file. Frets are normally beveled at 30 degrees. Use a fret dressing file for the ends of the frets to eliminate any burs that might be present.

Now polish the frets and finger board with 0000 grade steel wool or a good buffing wheel works great too. For a super-duper polish use a light rubbing compound on a buffing wheel.

After all this you should be all set. Try your first fret job on a cheap guitar until you have it down pat. Good Luck!

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