Setting up my #1 LP Custom shop Standard

DBDM

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While playing my #1 last night, I decided it was time for a FULL setup. My wife is out of town (funeral) so I have the house to myself and decided I would do it and do it RIGHT.

Started with a full fret oiling and polishing (after of course removing the old strings and cleaning the body, neck, and back,) Now the purpose of my post. I decided I would play with the fret polishing. Started out with fret oil (Fret Doctor. Actually Bore Doctor which is the same thing in a different bottle) and 0000 Steel wool which is my usual go-to. I cleaned the frets as if this was the only cleaning that they would get. Then I moved on to some fingernail buffing pads and started over. I learned of these from a friend at Musicians Institue Guitar Academy in Nashville. They are labeled "400/3000 Grit" (photo below). I ordered them on ebay and they came from China. 1 big pad has 5 little break off pads and one of the little one is likely enough to do a whole guitar. They came in a pack of like 200 (big pads) for I think $8 delivered so this should be a lifetime supply. Then after using the nail buff pads, i moved on to using polish (to see if it made a difference). Then I moved on to a dremmel with a buffing wheel. I have used my Dremmel before but found it (even at the lowest speed) to be too aggressive and I feared flattening the frets. Then today I remembered that I bought a "Dog Fingernail Dremmel" a while back because my dogs hate having their nails trimmed (turns out they hate the Dog Dremmel even more!). I got it on an Amazon special deal for like $10. It is not real useful as a "Regular" dremmel because the speed is too low for most projects that require a regular Dremmel. PERFECT for the fretboard at much lower speeds. So I decided to try.

This is what I found. The Champion of the whole project was the nail buffer pads. They are far less messy than the other methods and do about 99% of the job. The metal polishing compound did an even better job (last 1%) but is substantially more messy. If you really do a ridiculous amount of bends and or have a slightly dinged up fretboard, I recommend using the polishing compound and the "dog Dremmel". My frets are not too bad on this guitar since it is only about 1.5 years old so I feel it is a diminishing return for this project today but would be useful for an older guitar and/or a ridiculous thorough Rock Star fret polishing. (Photos below). I also took photos of me using my feeler gauges to set up the Bridge height and of me measuring string height and adjusting the truss rod but they did not come out too well and do not show much, anyway.
 
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DBDM

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These are the nail buffer pads. One broken off of the big pad. I tried using both the 400 Grit and the 3000. I think Grit is a bit of a misnomer since it does not correlate well with sandpaper grits. They are more like pencil erasers. I am impressed how well they work.

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DBDM

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This is a photo of an ESP LTD 401C that my son and I mess around with. We installed a "Fret Zealot" onto it just to hoarse around with. I moved the strings out of the way and polished the 2nd fret, dry. Litterally just loosned the strings and rubed it for a second. Photo is not perfect but you can see how well the little nail buffer works here in the center of the 2nd fret.

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DBDM

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Here is the dog, herself. Supervising
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DBDM

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This one is not too clear but here is a shot of the fretboard with the 2nd fret polished and Dremmeled but not the first or rest of the frets. Not sure if you can tell but it is a tiny bit shinier.
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DBDM

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The whole guitar waiting on the oil to soak into the fretboard. I like to leave it for a while and re-oil any spots that absorbed all the oil. I used "Fret Doctor" this time just to try it. I am under no illusion that it is magic or better than any other good fret conditioner. i was just curious. This board was pretty dry so I want to get it well conditioned.
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DBDM

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kind of a fuzzy shot of my whole little workmate workbench while I was waiting on the board to dry. I put eveything on the workbench to clean up a little bit.
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DBDM

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3rd view. Also my puppy in the background coming to see what I am doing. I use a shooters bench beanbag as a neck rest. i find it works well. Anyone looking closely will see my 3 hobbies represented in these photos--shooting, golf, and guitars. When turned sideways the shooters rest allows me to set up the guitar in playing position while still sitting on the bench. Which I find comfortable.
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DBDM

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Hope this helps with anyone wanting to know how to polish frets. I couldnt really find a thread about it. Also likely helpful if anyone is curious about Dog Dremmels. i may be the first person, ever, to use a dog Dremmel on a Custom Shop Les Paul Standard? Not sure.

Final conclusion--0000 Grit Steel wook works great and has been the go to for years. Nail buffers work even better and are far less messy. Polishing compound is even better--but very messy and labor intensive and I always worry about what it may or may not do to the fretboard. My "regular" Dremmel makes me uncomfortable even at the lowest speed but the Dog Dremmel does make a slight improvement over even intensive polishing with polishing compound--but probably not enough to invest in one (the little polishing wheels are not free).

In the future I will likely just use the nail buffers. They can even be used between string changes if you wish to loosen the strings and move them out of the way for a quick polish. I could envision doing that if you had to change strings at a Gig (or other time when you could not do a setup) with no time for a polishing--but decide you wanted to polish them and not subsequently waste the new strings. A lifetime supply of them cost me less than some strings.

That is all, carry on. Feel free to tell me what an idiot I am, how this has been beaten to death, how this post should be in another sub forum, and how Dog Dremmels have long been proven to ruin Les Pauls and that you prefer xxx (toothpaste, Pledge, Apple Cider Vinegar, (insert other stuff here)).
 

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great job, i hope its ok but i'd wouldn't ever drench fretboard in anything. i use the bare minimum and will do it over multidays board is really dry
 

DBDM

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great job, i hope its ok but i'd wouldn't ever drench fretboard in anything. i use the bare minimum and will do it over multidays board is really dry
I did not drench it. I used like 6 total drops. i always put a drop or 2 on the first 2 frets, then rub that in with steel wool. Then put a few drops on the steel wool itself and do most of the frets. then maybe 2 more drops on the steel wool to finish the last few. Then I rub it in with a (lint free) paper towel and wait. I totally agree with not drenching, and i did not. I had some trouble with the lighting and there could be some glare that makes it looked more drenched than it actually is.

My method for conditioning my fretboard is the same as oiling some of my guns. Non shooters might think that steel and firearms finish does not absorb oil. They would be mistaken. I lightly oil and rub it in drying off the excess, then wait and come back and re-oil the some of the spots (re-oiling means tiny amount) until no more is absorbed. But again the sum total used was very small.
 

DBDM

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The metal polish is blue magic metal polish. I forgot to mention that. I have heard people say Semichrome is better but I cannot find it locally and it is expensive online (says the man who owns a Dog Dremel)
 

DBDM

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I always lube my nut with this grease. (Yes my nuts are filed correctly. Yes I know that well slotted nuts don't need grease. Yes I know this is firearms lubricant)
 

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RocketKing

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Thanks for the info.
I used to use a metal cleaner compound (Iosso) and while it did a nice job cleaning the frets, it stained the fretboard for good. Despite trying to be careful.
0000 grit steel wool leaves a lot of filaments and a bit of a mess.
I recently got some "miracle cloth" that was suggested on this very forum for the frets and I'll see how that works out.
 

RocketKing

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Did you write "fingernail buffing pads" on ebay?
I'm not getting any results, I'm curious to look into them
 

DBDM

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Did you write "fingernail buffing pads" on ebay?
I'm not getting any results, I'm curious to look into them
The brand is on the package in the photo. I think I actually originally swatched for 1000 grit nail files. I ended up buying the 3000.
 

Skyjerk

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I use a shooters bench beanbag as a neck rest.
That's a great idea! I'm stealing it right now. I have a proper bench rest now and my sand-filled rest is just in a box somewhere...
 

DBDM

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That's a great idea! I'm stealing it right now. I have a proper bench rest now and my sand-filled rest is just in a box somewhere...
I was watching a video where the guy had a custom built guitar rest that layed down fairly flat with a little elevation of the neck then he rotated it and put it up against the cutout on a LP and it held it in playing position. Then the very next day I was moving my Caldwell Brand beanbag rests. I have the kind that are made for rifles with Magazines to hold them a little higher to allow the clearance on the bench for the mag. I thought, "you know...?" Seems to work great.

I do not have a proper tool bench in my garage so I use my little Black and Decker workmate bench for EVERYTHING. One of the best purchases I have ever made. I use it for everything from home projects to gun cleaning to guitar setups to carving the Thanksgiving turkey. Flods flat and fits right in my Trunk so I take it to football tailgates and nearly anwhere I want a little table. I originally purchased it for range use. I was continually going places to shoot that had no benches so I just started tossing it in my trunk and taking it.

It has little holes in it that are just shy of 3/4 inch so I buy 3/4 dowells and make any little attachements I need and wrap a little sandpaper around it to decrease the sides till it fits. I took a little board and drilled holes in it and put the dowels through the holes and glued them to make a little stop on the tail side of the guitar so it will not fall off when sitting at an angle. Then the shooters beanbags and I am good to go.

Those workmates were insanely popular in the 80's but are now hard to find in stores. Easy online though (less than $100) and I think mine is awesome. A very well designed tool.
 


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