How To File Guitar Frets

To make sure that your guitar’s sound is at its best, you would need to file your frets occasionally. The steps below should help you do this occasional task. It is quite a tedious task but making sure your guitar is well maintained and has the best sound quality option, you might need to do this once a year, depending on the condition of your guitar.

  • Protecting your guitar. It is a good idea to protect the body of your guitar with some paper and tape since you do not want to have the shavings all over your guitar and pickup poles. It would be best to find a spacious area where you can make a bit of mess since doing this will result to quite a number of debris.
  • Removing the strings. Slacken off your strings until you can pull three strings from each side of your fingerboard. Tape these strings to the side of the neck. Protect your fingerboard with some strips of tape, as well.
  • Marking the tops of your frets. Mark the tops of each fret with a permanent marker so that you will know if you have leveled them enough. If you do not have a permanent marker with you then some crayon or white board marker can also serve as a good substitute.
  • Using your steel level. With the use of a steel level with 320 grit on one side and 600 grit on the other, level your frets. Add 4 layers of your tape on your tenth fret.
  • Re-coloring your frets. Re-color the tops of the 11th fret onwards.
  • Cleaning your frets. After filing, clean your frets with some isopropyl alcohol or some lighter fluid. When doing this make sure that you are not smoking or in near contact with something that can ignite the flammable alcohol that you are using for cleaning up your frets. Make sure that there are no other people smoking in the room, also.
  • Re-coloring them, again. Re-color all of your fret tops again with your marker then with the use of a diamond crown file, round off the fret sides. A very slight flat is on the left side of the fret tops. These will be rounded off later with the “hand honing” process. Round off the fret tops with your 600 grit wet and dry paper.
  • Buffing the frets. Buff your frets in short, rapid motions from the first to the last fret. Lastly, with the use of a round ended hard foam rubber backing and 1500 to 12000 grit, hone and polish the frets. Alternatively, 0000 grade steel wool can also be used for this task. Micro mesh abrasives can also be used in this task.

There you have it! Some tips on how to make sure your guitars are in tip top shape with their frets. Remember that you only need to do this at a maximum of once a year so it is best to do this the proper way the first time around so that you will not result to damaging your beloved guitar in the long run.


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