Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

Filing a fret

Related threads:
Guitar: Why Thompson Belly reducer works? (15)
I've got a sticky guitar neck - help! (17)
Ovation Guitar: how to reattach top? (51)
Guitar bridge-pins (34)
machine heads - any opinions? (29)
Removing mildew from a guitar ? (15)
Guitar: How and Where to Store It?? (13)
Guitar Dilemma: Repair or Replace? (26)
Guitar Headstock Design (35)
Tusq v. Bone? (10)
why is a guitar bridge glued down? (35)
Help: Feiten system, anyone? (10)
Do your nuts require surgery? (30)
Guitar repair question (8)
Help: Ebony vs. Brass Bridge Pins (28)
Does a pickguard impede sound of guitar? (36)
Warped Top? I found an answer (19)
Guitar: Removing glossy finish (152)
guitar refurbishment (5) (closed)
Old guitars - pickguard adhesives? (10)
Guitar Truss rod adjustments (49)
Which way should an extension nut face? (9)
Guitar polish (40)
Tried Brass Bridge Pins? (51)
Buzz Feiten Tuning System (40)
Guitar cleaning stuff! (8)
Re-capture of serial number (guitar) (11)
Strings a-buzzin'! Please Help! (13)
Tech: Restoring a Patenotte (2)
Guitar re-furbishment (10)
Micarta (5)
Help needed please - guitar bridge glue (20)
Care and feeding of a guitar (24)
Gibson 18 Repair (6)
Guitar saddles (26)
Help needed - loss of gloss!! (25)
Best glue for plastic binding repairs? (3)
Re-fretting guitars (6)
Removing wax polish from guitars (4)
guitar nut/neck size (22)
string buzz on a dobro (5)
Buffing out a matte guitar (10)
Assist on Pickguard removal (6)
Tech: Instrument Cases for Flying (30)
Stripped truss rod nut (9)
Guitar truss rods (14)
Resonator Bridge Replacement (6)
Heel pin placement-Martin (12)
Scalloped/Straight Bracing-Differences? (19)

Cool Beans 02 Feb 09 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 02 Feb 09 - 12:25 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Feb 09 - 02:02 PM
bubblyrat 02 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM
JohnInKansas 02 Feb 09 - 02:32 PM
Big Mick 02 Feb 09 - 04:05 PM
olddude 02 Feb 09 - 05:49 PM
dick greenhaus 02 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM
Skivee 02 Feb 09 - 07:51 PM
Cool Beans 03 Feb 09 - 05:38 PM
Murray MacLeod 03 Feb 09 - 06:52 PM
Skivee 03 Feb 09 - 07:05 PM
Zen 03 Feb 09 - 07:44 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Feb 09 - 08:10 PM
bubblyrat 04 Feb 09 - 05:49 AM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: Filing a fret
From: Cool Beans
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:02 PM

My travel guitar has developed a horrid buzz when I play my bass E (6th) string at the fifth fret. This pushes the string down too close to the sixth fret. I know nothing about guitar repair, but is it possible to simply file down the sixth fret? Should I acquire a fret file or is there something less costly? Do I need to know what I'm doing? It's not an expensive guitar but I don't want to damage it. (I'd never try this with my Martin. On the other hand, my Martin would never develop such a problem.) I could return the travel guitar for repair, it's still under warranty, but shipping it would cost almost as much as a fret file.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 12:25 PM

I am not an expert on guitar repair, but I've heard of emery boards being used for exactly such a job, alternatively some very fine sandpaper. Very gently, though, file off too much and you've got a much worse problem on your hands.

Before you do that, try and work out what has changed to make it start to buzz- I doubt your 6th fret has grown! It's possible the neck is bending back slightly (have you changed to lighter strings recently?). That would mean your strings are closer to the fretboard, in which case a slight turn of the truss rod (if your travel guitar has one) might suffice to stop it.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 02:02 PM


First, check that each fret is properly seated to the fingerboard. Mark one Eyeball is often accurate enough.

If any fret has risen, first lightly (VERY LIGHTLY) grease the fingerboard - then "wick" very very runny superglue into the gap between the fret and the fingerboard, then clamp the fret down for maybe half an hour. A subminiature screwdriver makes a good dipstick for this.

Any surplus dried superglue should flick neatly off the greased fingerboard!

If that does not fix it, check neck progression. Fret strings at first adn 14th frets. Gap under string at 7th shouldbe 0.25mm. If not, look along neck. Is it a nice even curve? If so adjust neck on trussrod to get right relief.

If not, remove strings and slacken trussrod until fingerboard is DEAD STRAIGHT. Then using a STRAIGHT long-ish oilstone stone the frets until there are no high spots, and no bog wear marks. Little ear marks leave. If you now have no frets to speak of, tough, you needed a re-fret anyway.

Now re-profle frets with crowning file (or, if it's a crap guitar, emery cloth and wishful thinking).


Re-set relief.

If that sounds hard, go to a good guitar tech.

If it sounds easy, but it's a good guitar, go to a good guitar tech.

In fact, unless you can understand why I said everything I did above, in that order, and have a fairamount of spare time and great confidency in your DIY ability - go to a good guitar tech.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: bubblyrat
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM

My Martin needed attention for a similar problem ( NO make is immune !)----I entrusted its resolution to the nice man who is always on the "Oakwood" stand at festivals.No problems since !

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 02:32 PM

If an instrument has been on standby for a while, it's common for the fingerboard to dry out a shrink a bit. This often will let a fret "rise up" and buzz. If you play the instrument frequently enough, your finger oil usually is sufficient to prevent this, and there are "lubes" you can use to swell the wood back to good shape.

Once the wood is properly swelled back to something other than "Sahari Dry" you probably can just reseat the fret by pulling it back down with a small clamp or by careful tapping - preferably with a small "soft" hammer (plastic?), without the need to "glue it down." You may still want to "dress" the fret once it's back down, but unless it's got string grooves in it the need should be minimal.

Although it's fairly commonly done, using glue (super or mediocre) is not recommended since it often makes it much more difficult to do a proper re-fret when one eventually becomes needed. The flange on the fret has little teeth that dig into the wood to keep the fret in place. When an old fret is pulled out it may leave a small groove in the slot from each old tooth, but a careful refreterist can just cut the new wire so that the teeth on the new one are in a different place. If a glued in old fret "pulls wood" it may be necessary to fill the old slot and cut a new one in order to make a secure fit for the replacement - or in the worst case replace the fingerboard.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Big Mick
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 04:05 PM

CB, if this is a guitar you enjoy, get it to a luthier. Do not try these things on your own. Just the fact that you asked the question tells me it is not something you should try. You are not that far from Elderly, and I am sure that there are plenty of good luthiers in the Metro Detroit area if that is too far, that can tell you exactly what the problem is and recommend the best course of action. The fact that it isn't a Martin is not relevant. If you like the sound and playability, take to a pro. You will never regret it.

All the best,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: olddude
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 05:49 PM

Mick got it right, it will only cost a few dollars by a pro but a botched repair
that is another matter.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM

Aw, c'mon fellers. Nobody's going to permamently damage a guitar by filing a fret. The worst that would happen (unless you're doung your filing with a jackhammer or sime such) is that you'd have to have a luthier replace the fret.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Skivee
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 07:51 PM

"Nobody's going to permamently damage a guitar by filing a fret"
Perhaps not, but many a guitar has been needlessly damaged by owners who tried the one trick they'd heard about which was the entirely wrong thing to do. (If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, eh?)
How many guitar players do you know who develop string buzz at the 6th string 6th fret from fret wear before developing it elsewhere? in 40+ years of playing I have never seen that happen.
I'm thinking that this person filing any frets down is the wrong course. They should get an informed opinion from a luthier in person.
For all we know, this could be from low humidity, neck twisting, the result of impact, or a half dozen other causes.
PS if it is from fret wear it won't be covered by most warranties unless the fret material is somehow defective. Wear and tear is very seldom covered.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Cool Beans
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 05:38 PM

Thanks, all. Turned out to be a defective string, slightly worn away at the fifth fret. Changed the string and the problem went away.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 06:52 PM

It's not often I get the chance to tell John in Kansas that he is wrong, so I am going to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Gluing frets in, far from being "not recommended" is in fact "highly recommended", and the reason why it is highly recommended is that when refretting an instrument, it is standard practice to heat the frets (usually with a soldering iron) before removing them, which has the double effect of softening the glue and slightly plasticizing the wood fibers immediately adjacent to the fret tang, which minimizes any predisposition to breakout. The prior application of glue, whether cyanoacrylate, epoxy or just good ol' Elmers has no effect whatsoever on the subsequent ease of refretting.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Skivee
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 07:05 PM

CB, that's good news. I'm glad it was that simple.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: Zen
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 07:44 PM

Glad it worked out OK CB. From your description I had suspected a simple explanation.

Gluing frets in, far from being "not recommended" is in fact "highly recommended"

When I did my luthiery training it was definitely frowned on. In my opinion, and I have done dozens of refrets when I worked as a repairman, it shouldn't be necessary. But that's just my POV.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 08:10 PM

Murray Mac -

No argument if you choose to glue them in. Lots of luthiers do, as I commented. Lots of others don't.

I'll agree to a difference of opinion, but as to "wrong" it just depends on who you're working with.

For someone trying to "fix a fret," assuming especially that the fixer is of "amateur standing," I still would prefer that they omit attempts to add "glue" if they plan to bring it to me to do the repair on their repair.

Cyanoacrylates and epoxies generally are NOT SOFTENED by temperatures that don't char the wood, or at least boil off the volatiles and degrade the wood in the heated area. In general, within practical limits, they don't soften when heated until you get hot enough to cause chemical breakdown. The wood can be softened, and it may look like the glue softens and comes out easier, but heating the fret to acceptable temperatures has no significant effect on most of these glues, and especially on some that the "DIY fixer" might use since there are no reliable performance and quality specs on what you find around the house.

And if glue has been added, you still have to clean "the rest of the glue" out of the slot if you want a good fit for the new fret.

One of the nice things about Luthiery is that the luther is permitted to do whatever (s)he thinks best, and quite often things having no real or rational basis in science or music turn out quite well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Filing a fret
From: bubblyrat
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 05:49 AM

This is a prime example of what a truly wonderful thing the Mudcat is !! Without all the above discussion,argument and differences of opinion, I would never have known about the intricacies and complications attendant upon the fitting and repair of guitar-frets !In future, I shall regard them ( both frets and luthiers) with respect and awe. Thankyou ( sincerely).

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 5 August 10:56 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.