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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Comparing notes on fret level & crown...

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Mar 31st, 2017 04:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yesterday I did my first full level & crown.
It seemed to take me *much* longer than I anticipated.

With all the prep, levelling, crowning & polishing I had 4 hours into it. (with a few short breaks)
Does that sound like a long time?

I can see how the first one should take longer, but I can't imagine a pro taking that much time for what they charge.

I *have* come to the conclusion that my crowning files are crap, and have ordered a new better quality set. I felt like was working way too hard to get the frets crowned.

At the end of it, I'm please with the result.
I haven't played the neck yet as it is parts neck (Squier) that I got specifically for a bench test, but checking with the fret rocker and eyeballs, it appears NFP. (near ******* perfect)

Advice & comments please...

M Tracy
Contributing Member
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Lafayette IN

Mar 31st, 2017 04:40 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That sounds about right. I bet you were just being extra careful. I think the first ten took me three hours or so. It still takes me almost two hours with a couple of breaks. The polishing always takes the longest. I don't do it for money so I take as long as I want.

Pinetree
Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Mar 31st, 2017 05:40 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Do they feel like a million bucks? That's where it really counts.


You'll get faster as you gain experience.


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Mick Reid
Contributing Member
***

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Mar 31st, 2017 06:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I don't do it for money so I take as long as I want."

Yeah, a labour of love here too, but one day I'd like do it for doe. At least on a small scale.

"Do they feel like a million bucks? That's where it really counts."

They look & feel good to the touch. If get a project body to put the neck on, that will be the real test. How it *plays*!

Therealfrogman

Fibi Figallily

is a silly name.....
Apr 1st, 2017 06:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have not moved up to doing my own frets yet but it must be a good feeling to know you did it and took as long as you wanted to.

Hey I did order some fret erasers though ;) I need to start a thread.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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The spotlight

looks like a prison break
Apr 1st, 2017 07:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Start to finish on a fretboard with some worn frets takes me about three hours, with no breaks.

I enjoy it. There's something relaxing about working with extreme precision; it recharges my batteries.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
***

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Apr 1st, 2017 08:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks guys. I guess I'm not too far off the mark for a first-timer.
I think the next one will go faster having had one under my belt and the upgrade of the files.

"There's something relaxing about working with extreme precision; it recharges my batteries."

Yes, and I feel a sense of accomplishment as well.


littleuch
Contributing Member
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*****

Florida

Apr 2nd, 2017 07:46 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Novice here as well. Just did 3 of my guitars (knocking down some high frets, crowning, polishing). 3 hours seems about right. I initially put in less time on the first one but had to go back and clean it up.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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The spotlight

looks like a prison break
Apr 2nd, 2017 08:01 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Leveling and crowning frets is a mechanical process, but the 'art' aspect of it is a big thing too: how do artists know when to stop applying paint to the canvas? Only the individual artist knows.

As techs and as players, we all have our own ideals about what frets should look like and feel like.

In the early days of Gibson and through the 1930s, a fret level done as maintenance at the Gibson factory usually consisted of a wooden block faced with 240-grit paper. That was all they did. No profiling, no polishing. True story.

Seems odd and even stupid at first, but you have to remember that in those days, most players were comping chords on big fat guitars with big fat strings. There was not a lot of soloing or string bending on.

You can always "polish the cannon ball" and it won't blow a prettier hole in the side of the enemy's ship. Knowing when you're done with the frets is a personal thing.

As techs--and especially as players--we all appreciate fine attention to detail and a mirror-like finish on the frets these days. Playing a guitar with a great fret job is like driving a high-performance car: it does what it's supposed to do, and it does it easily and almost automatically.

Unless you're losing money by taking too long with frets, take as much time as you like. I sure do with my own guitars.

I enjoy working on guitars as much as I enjoy making noise with 'em :o)

Pinetree
Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Apr 2nd, 2017 08:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Also bear in mind that after just a few minutes of playing, those shiny frets will lose their luster.




Peegoo
Contributing Member
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The spotlight

looks like a prison break
Apr 2nd, 2017 08:33 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That's why I polish my frets during the breaks :0)

FunkyKikuchiyo

VT

Apr 3rd, 2017 01:03 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

4 hours is a long time. What is the break down like for each step?

If you took a long time for leveling, then you're possibly over thinking it. Once you get the hang of your leveling tool of choice checking and rechecking for high frets becomes superfluous. Still, no harm in observing progress as much as you can, especially during a first go.

Too much time in crowning may very well be the function of the tool you're using. Also, gigantic frets take a long time to recrown... think Ibanez, Jackson, etc. where they're kinda flat from the factory, then after a rigorous leveling they're basically little rectangles. On that sort of guitar, the crowning time can easily triple or quadruple. In my shop we've considered charging a higher price for a fret dress on those intstruments, but we probably never will.

Even with a good crowning tool it takes a while to get a rhythm to be able to remove the material you want quickly, especially if it is as a proper file and not just an abrasive.

The polish... how long did that take? I spend varying amounts of time on this part. I give it more attention for refrets (because the person is paying more) and for electrics, because with an electric there is more of a tactical reward as you bend strings around. On an acoustic is tends to be strictly cosmetic. My quick & dirty is the sand paper wrapped around my finger, 220, 400, 800, 1000 and 0000 steel wool. Five-ten minutes tops, but if you start adding in other things to spiffy up the process it increases dramatically.

All in all, no worries. Being attentive to detail on a first go is commendable. When I'd train guys in a factory, I could always tell the ones that would work out better. Counter intuitively the ones that would start out fast and industrious would struggle with quality, but the ones who started slowly eventually got fast, and passed the early speed demons easily within 90 days.

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Apr 3rd, 2017 06:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm at about 2.5 to 3 hours from start to completely set up. But I have every known cool tool available and a lot of practice.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Apr 3rd, 2017 06:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"4 hours is a long time."

Thanks Funky. Just when I was feeling good about myself... Just kidding!!!

"What is the break down like for each step?"

I didn't take notes exactly, but I *would* say that the crowning was the most time consuming.

I suspect that the sub-par quality of the files was a contributing factor here and made much harder work of it. (however, I received my new files yesterday & have another spare neck to play with)

Also worth noting that the neck was an MIC Squier neck with M-Jumbo frets that I got cheap specifically as a practise piece.
It definitely took a lot of levelling, therefore requiring a lot material to take off whilst crowning.

The polishing was fairly intensive as well. Again I contribute this to the poor files which left quite a bit of tool marks. (600, 1200, 1500, 2000)

At the end of the day, the finished result was quite good. Not perfect, but more than satisfactory for my own use. Not sure it would be up to scratch for a "paying customer".

I have a local luthier friend (acquaintance) that has agreed to have a look at it and "grade" my work so I'll look forward (hopefully) to his assessment.

FWIW, I also (previously) resized the heel so it will fit into a standard Fender neck pocket and wouldn't hesitate to fit it as a replacement on one of my strats if needed.


jay1vinton

Hawaii, USA

Perfect is the enemy of good enough
Apr 21st, 2017 06:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Interesting. My McCarty is going to the shop next week for divots at the first 3, and flats at the 5th and 7th. It's basically the job you are describing.



Mick Reid
Contributing Member
***

Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Apr 21st, 2017 06:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"My McCarty is going to the shop next week for divots at the first 3, and flats at the 5th and 7th. It's basically the job you are describing."

I'm sure it won't take your guy 4 hours!!

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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The spotlight

looks like a prison break
Apr 21st, 2017 07:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It's only five frets. 12 minutes :^P

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Comparing notes on fret level & crown...




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