Frets wear due to factors such as the amount the instrument is played, accidents in which dents can be put on the frets and general wear and tear.
In most cases, it is not necessary to have your guitar refret. A competant guitar tech will be able to level the frets, reprofile the top of the fret (fret crowning) and polish them back to working health.
At Ackworth Guitar Setups in the event that frets require replacement the process is as follows:
Neck (Remove or leave in place)
Most guitar repairs will remove the neck for this work - it makes the job easier. Strings, neck hardware such as tuners, nut and strings trees are removed.
Mask off the fretboard / Pickups
Using a low tack masking tape, we protect the fingerboard underneath from the microns of metal that are removed in the levelling procces. We do not want metal filings (swarf) or particles of metal to be magnetised to the pickups.
Straighten the Neck
To level the frets, we need to level the fretboard. To do this we used a notched straight edge to ensure the neck is as straight as possible. We adjust the truss rod until we get the neck to desired position to enbable to the neck to sit level. At this point we will evaluate the neck and see if there are any obvious issues with the frets such as loose frets
Mark the Frets
We use a sharpie to mark the tops of the frets so that we can look for any uneven areas when the levelling beam is used,
The fret levelling beam is passed evenly over the tops of the frets to ensure that the we can look for any high frets or low fret areas. We then keep going until there is no evidence of the pen marks on the top of the frets.
Using a fret crowning file, we reshape the tops of the frets so that the string's friction surface is at a minimum. We then run final passes over the top of the frets using sand paper of various grits all the way up to 2000 grit and then finish off with 0000 wire wool. This will leave the fret gleaming, but more importantly smooth and ready to play.
With the frets now ready, we replace the strings and start the setup. You can find out more about guitar setups here.
Available at our Manchester site at Brunswck Mill Studios, Cheltenham Road, Salford, M6 6WY
Available at our Leeds site at The Chapel Works, Stocks Street, Leeds, LS7 2AU