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 Post subject: When to fret?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:09 am 
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Mahogany
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First name: Mark
Last Name: Gammell
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At what point in a build do you guys install frets? I've seen where some do it before the fret board is put on the neck, all the way to doing it nearer the end, just like a regular fret job.

I'm currently building 2 guitars, one "nice" one and one made out of lumberyard pine. Both are set neck designs. The pine guitar does have a Wenge fretboard, as a pine fretboard seems impractical. These are my first guitars, and the pine one is so I can practice things before doing them on the real guitar.

Right now the pine guitar has the neck attached, and the neck is shaped, the board radiused, slotted, and inlaid. So this one is already to the "regular fret job" stage.

The "nice" guitar is all of the above, except the neck is not attached yet. So my real question for this guitar is whether I should put the frets in before I glue the neck on. I did everything else (shaping the neck/headstock, drilling the headstock, etc.) with the neck off because it seems like it's easier to handle the neck rather than a whole guitar.

Sorry for the long winded approach to a simple question, but I wanted to give the lay of the land.



Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:28 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Fret after the instrument(s) are fully assembled and finished.

Yes it can be done other ways but fretting a fully finished instrument provides us with the most control over the shape and quality.... of the fret plane.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: Bill Braske (Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:46 am)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:17 pm 
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After the fretboard extension is glued down. ;)

http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=49233



These users thanked the author david farmer for the post (total 2): Bill Braske (Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:46 am) • Hesh (Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:50 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:41 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Looks like not many want to go here again.... Oh well. :)

You know it should be said that there are Luthiers who have a strict methodology and can do a great job fretting the board off the neck and the neck off the guitar, Mario P. comes to mind. He wrote an article about it that was published about 10 years ago in Guitar maker magazine.

Here's a real life example of why fretting on a finished instrument is beneficial. Client brings in 1972 D-35 Tuesday and has already gotten in a fight via email with Hesh and lost because he mentioned tone and his fear that a refret will change the tone of his beloved instrument. Hesh goes on the nut about the subjectivity of tone and insists that we make no promises or warranty on subjective matters such as tone and if this is the kind of behavior that we can expect from client client can go drink paddy water and take instrument somewhere else.... ;)

Client relents, apologizes and asks Hesh if we can forget that he ever mentioned tone.... Hesh feels like the jerk that he at times is.... and relents and changes his mind and tells the client to come on by.

The D-35 is strung with 10's..... of all things and has no truss rod. Client likes 10's (and he was concerned about tone..... :? ) The neck is in back bow and the guitar needs a refret that's why it's here.

This will be a compression refret but because of the back bow and 10's the way to make it work for the client is to level the board too before fretting for the greatly reduced tension of 10's. Then compression fret to shape the relief. In addition the board will be milled and leveled for more relief on the bass side and less on the treble side. Our fretting class students know how to do this from our classes that we teach.

The refret is now done and he has a neck that will have appropriate relief where we want it but with only 10's on it. Since this had to be done at multiple times under string tension to see what we have (compression refrets are strung up at least several times during the process to see where thicker and thinner tang frets should go).

You can't do this with the board off the neck or the neck off the guitar. This is a real life example of how a client can be accommodated by fretting on a finished guitar. It's also a real life example of how Hesh should not be so jumpy at subjective statements by clients. They don't know and I need to lighten up.... Shame on me.

By the way the client is a great guy and repairs vintage tube amps. Very cool and that's something that I plan on sending him clients for.

The OP lists an interest in repair in his profile. In the repair world we are always fretting on finished instruments and any fear of scratching things goes away quickly AND can be countered with shields and proper working methods and tool storage.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: Bill Braske (Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:46 am)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:07 am 
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Electric guitars are often fretted before assembly. It depends on the design of an instrument and a builders preference when it is best to fret the fingerboard. In the Koch book Building Electric Guitars, the author has you fret first. In the same book there is a factory photo of a P R S neck being fretted with a press while off the guitar. With electric guitars it really does not matter much when the frets go in. It is best to level and crown the frets after the guitar is assembled.

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These users thanked the author Cush for the post: Bill Braske (Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:46 am)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:45 am 
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Mahogany
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Thanks, guys. Fret jobs are something I'm familiar with, so fretting it after assembly will be comfortable for me. On the other hand, I'm new at this, so putting the frets in before assembly will be new (and hopefully educational) for me. I'll probably do it after I assemble it. In the real world, for this guitar it won't matter that much. It's a double cutaway with pretty easy access to the upper frets. This means trimming and dressing the fret ends will be largely unencumbered.

But Cush, you make a good point about doing the level and crown at the later stages.

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These users thanked the author Bill Braske for the post: Hesh (Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:41 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:47 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Cush wrote:
Electric guitars are often fretted before assembly. It depends on the design of an instrument and a builders preference when it is best to fret the fingerboard. In the Koch book Building Electric Guitars, the author has you fret first. In the same book there is a factory photo of a P R S neck being fretted with a press while off the guitar. With electric guitars it really does not matter much when the frets go in. It is best to level and crown the frets after the guitar is assembled.


Could not disagree more. Electric guitars, especially shredders require lower action as such even more control of the fret plane is desirable.

Folks building dreads with 13's and action specs of 5 and 7/64th" respectively at the 12th can get away with somewhat sloppy fret work. The shredder with 10's and action of 4 or less and greater than 4 can't get away with anything but pretty decent fret work.

I've not read a building book yet that takes fret work to a professional level because they are usually more about the woodworking. I've also not read Trevor's book either but want to when I have an opportunity.

Even Gibson will PLEK their instruments, although seemingly.... minimally based on what we see after it's fully assembled.

One of the biggest advantages of fretting after the instrument is assembled and finished is with acoustics you can eliminate the body hump.... and with electrics you can eliminate any ski ramping. Both are tell tales of lousy workmanship and both are limiting factors to low action. Neither can be addressed fretting the board off the neck and the neck off the guitar.

As such when we fret on an assembled instrument we can shape the fret board. When we can shape the fret board the frets need only very minimal dressing and recrowning when completed. When we fret the board off the guitar issues such as ski ramping and the body joint hump can never be addressed at the board level. Instead we have to mill away often a goodly amount of our brand new frets to get decent relief and no kick-up not to mention induce fall-away.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: Clinchriver (Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:19 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:33 pm 
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Koa
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I usually fret the board before I glue it to the neck. I press frets and can get better support for the back of the board. I can dress the ends without worrying about finish or the body. Yes the board humps up from compression but I've been able to clamp that out when I glue it.

I've been pretty successful dealing with neck to body issues, mostly by maintaining a plane between the neck and whatever is happening at the body (the top, possibly an overstand or wedge)

Refrets I usually hammer unless its a partial where I can support the neck and press them. I'm far from an expert, but this has worked for me.


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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:28 pm 
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Do yourself a favor and install and bevel the fret ends before gluing the neck to the body.

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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:02 am 
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When I think of the life I've wasted, and dinners I've missed, grinding the mayhem beyond the 12th fret back to functionality, I have to take a deep calming breath.
It's so much easier to level the wood than grind and re-crown the frets! It's beyond me why some choose not to.

I submit that the most enduring, confounding, frustrating and needless mistake in the guitar industry is the refusal of electric guitar manufacturers to fix the fret plane in the wood. For God’s sake, the CNC machines would be just as happy milling necks so they don't hook up at the end. But year after year after year, on and on it goes.

Based on what I see, most acoustic manufacturers and individual builders, wind up with something slightly funky happening between the 12th and last fret and opt to just let it slide.

Of the many hours required to build an instrument, (or do a good re-fret) playability is going to come down to the last few swipes of the nut file and leveling beam. I have to remind myself sometimes and ask, do I just want to be done? or am I really "there". It's more than just removing all the magic marker.



These users thanked the author david farmer for the post (total 3): Hesh (Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:56 am) • Clinchriver (Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:57 am) • SteveSmith (Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:37 am)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:03 am 
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Bill Braske wrote:
At what point in a build do you guys install frets? I've seen where some do it before the fret board is put on the neck, all the way to doing it nearer the end, just like a regular fret job.
Right now the pine guitar has the neck attached, and the neck is shaped, the board radiused, slotted, and inlaid. So this one is already to the "regular fret job" stage.

Thanks


Take a white pencil throughly "X" up your fretboard, take your long leveling beam and see how quickly you get rid of all the marks. Done properly you really cut down on time spent leveling your frets. Your fretwork and setup will define your guitar.



These users thanked the author Clinchriver for the post: Hesh (Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:57 am)
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 Post subject: Re: When to fret?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:53 pm 
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Bill Braske wrote:
At what point in a build do you guys install frets? I've seen where some do it before the fret board is put on the neck, all the way to doing it nearer the end, just like a regular fret job.

Thanks



I like the fretboard (slotted) glued to the neck. I like to make sure that step goes perfect- no glues lines etc. I then radius, and install markers and the side dots.

That step was troublesome when I started building. Not so bad that it was "wasted" but sure wasn't the perfection I was after. I'm still not relaxed until I see
that fretboard and neck matched as they should be. Sure good for one to know the prep and clamping procedure that works for them. Even though I feel I have it worked out I still wonder until it's confirmed.

I like to glue and press the frets in and I don't have the tool to do that if the body is attached.
I set it aside and let the glue set-up and then I trim and bevel the fret edges.

I then make sure the neck (fretboard is straight and then I'll level, file fall-off, crown/dress etc. and I've done that with and without the body.

I've only built bolt-on, set neck and neck thru electrics.

I haven't had any issues with my workflow and none of the guitarists have had issues that I'm aware of and all of them have been accomplished pickers.
I've been fortunate to have time with each of them and feel they wouldn't have reservations about mentioning anything they were concerned about.

I posted this with no intention of reflection on any other postings. I think there are many ways to do things and some ways work for folks and some ways don't.
Feels good when you find a way that helps build your confidence- in getting the results your after. That's a big one...finding what your workflow is. Lot of steps involved -workflow to be worked out.
I also don't think it ends when a good workflow is there. I think there is always room for improvement and it's good to have an open mind - the chance to try to do steps differently - part of learning ... ideas.

Hope this helps in some way Bill.

Michael


P.S. I thought I should mention; My way sure might not be good for others. After I radius the fretboard the slots may not be deep enough. But that's the way I want it.
I like to cut them to a depth so minimal, if any, fill is needed. Of course one wants to make sure they are deep enough. A little extra work maybe but I like the results.


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