High frets filed almost to nothing

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by PermissionToLand, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    So I've put a lot of time and money into this guitar, chasing perfection, and it was everything I wanted it to be, except that I couldn't get the action down to a reasonable 4/64ths on the treble side (anything more is just impossible if you want to play stuff like Slash or even Angus Young, IMO). It was mostly buzzing past 9 and fretting out past 15. Maybe I was being too aggressive (I'm not particularly experienced at leveling), but I'd take off a reasonable amount, and based on the sharpie being taken off low frets, it should have been level. But it was always a mediocre improvement (and yes, I spent a lot of time adjusting the relief). I went back at it quite a few times and after this last one, I've finally got the action at 4/64ths but it's still buzzing/fretting out around 15-17 and now, the frets are so low, I could barely crown them and it feels really weird when playing, like there are no frets and my fingers are right on the wood.

    So, it seems like I'm SOL at this point, short of re-fretting, right? Would it be possible just to replace the high frets? Because the lower ones are fine. I'm guessing not, especially because I would really probably need to level the board itself otherwise the new frets would be just as un-level, but maybe somebody has an idea...
     
  2. geoffstgermaine

    geoffstgermaine Senior Member

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    It sounds like a re-fret with levelling the board, as you seem to have already deduced, is the way to go.

    What tools have you been using to do the fret levelling? It could be an issue of tools or technique with tools causing your issues. How much pressure do you apply when levelling? What do you use to support the neck?
     
  3. w666

    w666 Senior Member

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    Depends on whether the frets are high because they're not seated correctly, or if the fret board itself is not properly leveled. Did you check for flatness and adjust the truss rod before you began?
     
  4. WhiteEpiLP

    WhiteEpiLP Senior Member

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    Sounds like you need to refret the back half of the board atleast and have some fall off added to the fretboard by slightly over sanding it with a radius block. Its something not mentioned much but lots of guitars fretboards have fall off to stop buzz.
     
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  5. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    ^ If you're doing that you might as well do the whole thing. In fact if there is more than a good chance that the wood will need to be looked at too unless the OP has done all the work without bothering to check first if there was excessive relief.
     
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  6. jkes01

    jkes01 Senior Member

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    Is this a Les Paul? Sounds like there's a hump in the board :dunno:
     
  7. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    I have this nice file here:

    file.jpg

    Which at first, I was using backwards! So it was very much not aggressive the first few times I leveled it. However, now that you mention it, I think that because I had to apply more pressure going the wrong way, this caused me to unconsciously be too aggressive when using it the right way. In any case, I wouldn't have been able to get the action where I wanted it until they were almost down to nothing, anyway.

    I used an upside-down pickup wrapped in bubble wrap, last time. But if I don't have access to my brother's workshop, I'll actually do it on my bed, letting the headstock hang off, and the edge supporting the neck around the 3rd fret.

    Nah, they're all seated in fully and I flattened the TR as much as possible (didn't have enough travel to make it truly flat). But this was mostly the higher frets, anyway. Even being an SG, the TR can only help so far up the board. As it was, I was playing with about twice as much relief as my Gibson and it really didn't help much.

    I was worried of that. I've never done that level of work before, but I guess it's time to learn! It was only a $250 used guitar but I've come to really love it and as I said, with the work/money/time I've put in, it's not getting written off.

    Well, I was talking about an SG copy, but I have a similar issue with my Epiphone LP.
     
  8. WhiteEpiLP

    WhiteEpiLP Senior Member

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    A $250 guitar is a perfect candidate to learn some refreting skills on.
     
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  9. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Senior Member

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    Well, it was more like $400 new, and I got it in basically unplayed condition. And with all that I've put into it since then, I definitely don't want to screw it up! I'm guessing the bound fretboard will make it a bit tougher, too.

    Is there any way to level a board with frets still on half of it?
     
  10. WhiteEpiLP

    WhiteEpiLP Senior Member

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    Possible yes, advisable? Not unless you know what your doing. I'd refret the whole thing, that way the board can be made dead straight with a perfect radius. Then add a bit of fall off after the 16th fret, and install the frets.
    Main problem is it takes skill and paitence to do properly and at least a couple hundred bucks of tools.
     
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