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Fret Levelling - Why Your Frets Might Need Work

Having level frets on a guitar fret board is one of the most important parts of a guitars anatomy.



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 frets replaced. 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,


Fret Levelling


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.


Fret Profiling


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.


Guitar Setup


With the frets now ready, we replace the strings and start the setup. You can find out more about guitar setups here.


If you have any questions, contact us here.

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