This is the 5 Best Tips for Fretting Your Guitar Neck. In this post, I’ll share several tips that will help you fret a lot less over the fretting process. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
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Fretting Your Guitar Neck
Adding frets to your acoustic guitar neck is a pretty straightforward process, however there are a few things you can do to make it go a lot more smoothly.
Even as a beginner, if you’ve never done this type of work before, following a few simple guidelines is all you need to do to ensure your success. Have some patience, and work on each fret individually until it’s perfect.
If you follow these five great tips for fretting, you’ll be happy with your results, and you’ll have a guitar that plays well, and that makes you smile every time you use it.
Re-Slot the Frets With a Depth Stop
The first thing that you need to do after adding a radius to your fretboard is to re-slot your frets so that way they are the proper depth. Adding the radius destroys the slot, and it will be too shallow in several places.
If you skip this part, which often happens as either a rookie mistake, or just forgetting, you’ll notice right away as soon as you start hammering. All of a sudden, you feel like you hit the bottom of the slot, but your fret is still sticking out.
In reality, that’s exactly what happened. The slot isn’t deep enough, then that means the tang won’t go all the way down to the bottom. Instead of making this mistake, just use a depth stop on your fretsaw, and saw all of the fret slots to the right depth.
See Also: My Guitar Fretboard Slotting Jig
Use Matching Fret Wire
Another thing that’s really important, and that is more common of a mistake then you might imagine is matching your fret wire to your fretsaw. Not all fret wire is the same, and that can sneak up on you in the end.
It’s important to make sure that the fret saw you are using and the flat wire that you are using are meant to be used together. The way to check this is to ensure that the saw kerf is the same size as the tang of the fret wire, between the barbs.
The point of the slot is to allow the solid portion of the fret wire to enter, and then the barbs actually do the holding. It’s almost like the threads on a screw and the shank. The shank is meant to go through the clearance hole, while the threads slice into the wood.
If you buy your fret wire and your flat saw from the same place, you won’t have to worry. The problem comes when you buy inexpensive fret wire from a different manufacturer. In a case like that, it can end up being too loose, or too wide.
Press Your Frets or Use a Caul
If you don’t want to shell out the money for a fret press, don’t feel like you have to. However, if you do, this is a very efficient way of fretting that is also not risky. When you’re hammering near your fretboard, that’s risky.
The press will allow you to align each one of your individual frets, and easily press them in. You’ll have to pay for the set up of course, but if you’re going to make several guitars it’s definitely worth it.
Another thing you can do is just create a wooden caul that has the same radius as your fretboard, and use that in conjunction with a hammer. This way, you are hammering on your caul instead of hammering on your frets.
See Also: Guitar Building Tips for Beginners
Hammer Against a Solid Surface
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Even if you have a strong bench, it might still be beneficial to take the process down to the ground, and hammer directly on a concrete floor. This way, 100% of your force will be directed into the frets, and there will be no loss.
You will be amazed at the difference when you hammer your frets against a sturdy surface. Imagine trying to fret a fretboard on a fold up card table. Barely 10% of your hammer blows would be effective.
The exact opposite is true when you hammer against an unforgiving surface like a concrete floor. Your frets will go in very easily, and they’ll seat really well, without a lot of effort.
See Also: Acoustic Guitar Binding Ideas
Trim the Ends Carefully
The first thing you can do is start with a very sharp set of cutters, and don’t be afraid to spend a little money on a nicer pair. They will cut a whole lot better, and make the process a lot easier.
Cut carefully, and avoid any type of twisting action. Also, the deeper you can get the fret wire into the jaws of your cutter, the less force you’ll need to use with your hand to make the cut.
This is typically where a lot of twisting and turning comes from. It can be difficult after trimming 40 fret ends to have the hand strength to continue and finish the board. Sink that fret as deeply as possible into the jaws, and you’ll minimize the amount of force.
See Also: Wood Design and Woodworking Ideas
Your Action Assignment
Now that you have some great tips for fretting your fretboard for your acoustic guitar, it’s time to get out into your shop and take action. Fretting is not that difficult of a job, you just need to give it some time and attention.
Start with good fret wire that matches your fretsaw, and make sure that you saw all of your slots to the proper depth once more before you start this process. If you find a slot that’s too shallow, you’ll be really happy that you took the time.
Definitely use either a fret press or a caul that you hammer directly, instead of hammering on the individual fret itself. This makes the process a lot easier, and the results are a lot more reliable and uniform.
Trim your fret ends carefully, and avoid twisting. This will remove the bulk of the waste material and then you can come back later on with a file and bring them fully flush to the edge of the fretboard.
If you have any questions about fretting your guitar neck, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.
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