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greenhorn fret leveling crowning

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  • greenhorn fret leveling crowning

    I am green insofar as ever having any work experience truing and crowning frets.
    the communist want to fab a brand new neck for my raptor plus tk, a mere 35usd freeship.
    but the 80's neck is magical (why is fingerboard so thick like cigarette diameter?), just that slapping has worn the lower frets, not grooves, but instead very shallow scallops, say less than a tenth of height. so I bought the communist machining bar, communist crowner, communist [.4, .6, 1, 1.5, 2]k silicon carbide wet sand paper, tacky adhesive spray can, communist fretboard ruler un-notched.
    but I have not started anything, why, apprehensive, I may screw it up.
    here's my worry: I can reconfigure the truss wheel, neck detached from body, to obtain precise neck straightness necessary for leveling.
    but when normal pressure, slight as it be, is applied by the leveling bar, the neck will flex some amount.
    how much? depends on how much normal force is being applied, and, what is supporting (cradle jig?) this neck during leveling.
    see, if the neck deflects while being leveled, this will impart counter-bowing with respect to the frets longitudinal axis, once deflection is vacated.
    I went as far as acquiring an ace hardware store's display crescent wrench cardboard box, quite sturdy, narrow, long, shallow.
    the boxes endpoints longitudinally speaking were carved (dremel chews cardboard like margarine!) to receive the underside curvature of the neck.
    the depth of the carved yokes was to submerge the neck adequately into the coffin such that plaster of paris or dental imprinting rubber could be pooled and solidified creating a bracing jig for a neck already configured straight. the neck must be coated with a release (paraffin naptha) and thermal considerations must be attended (exothermic, endothermic), by staging laminates.
    the web videos make it seem so elementary, as if 2 or 3 thousands of an inch untrue leveling is acceptable. I don't know this realm, or margin of tolerant error. but it would appear I should at least accomplish the leveling trueness to that of my tooling precision, otherwise why even purchase such precise tooling? I was also concerned of the adhesive tacky spray. does it increase error? typical layer thickness would be well over the 2 or 3 thousandths of an inch, and it is compressible, and I don't know if upon compression does it stay compressed or does it recover back to 2 or 3 thousandths thickness?
    do I knock out the nut to allow leveler to reciprocate easier longitudinally? the leveler is the long one.
    what grit do I start off with? 320? 400? 600? 1200? 1500? 2000? do I use a lube? which lube is harmless? or do I impregnate the fingerboard rosewood with tung, let cure two weeks, then test whether pure water can be used as the lubricant over the tung treated fingerboard? you do not want to disturb the bite tight compression inset by factory fret installation, it is very very important insofar as sounding as an endpoint.

    I look at this operation from this perspective: the amount of metal removal is so mininscule, one could easily remove too much, and that's disaster. so what's the surest safest way? remove metal in a prescribed fashion that permits the least amount of metal removal to accomplish truing. the web shows folks black marsh penning frets and then leveling observing when the black deposit gets erased by machining. don't you think the highs will erase first? that'll expose the scalloped recessions black. but how do you control furtherance of machining (recessions still black) without any black guidance remaining on the highs? when the leveler is being reciprocated longitudinally, its lateral girth will (accommodate) abrade the non-black highs as well as the telltale blacks of recessions. I do not know how else to explain this but for some reason this appears as blind machining.

    your recommendations and advisories are welcomed. thank you in advance.

  • #2
    Originally posted by hewo View Post
    [... questions about leveling frets...]
    After removing the strings and loosening the truss rod nut the neck should be completely straight, at least in theory.* However I prefer to confirm that using a notched straight-edge which will tell you that the fretboard itself is level:

    After leveling, recrowning and dressing the frets restring your guitar and adjust truss rod to get mfg recommended neck relief (on some guitars that is like .010" at the 8th fret.)

    With the guitar strung up with your choice of strings I would then check for high frets with a fret rocker as the neck might not respond to tension from the strings and truss rod evenly.

    I mark the high spots on the frets with a Sharpie and without loosening the strings I will raise the strings up a bit with something like half a wooden clothespin so that I can get to the high spots to level and recrown them, rechecking that fret and the two adjacent frets for high spots.

    To be able to level frets under raised strings I've been using this set of diamond-grit files from Amazon. (Before I discovered these files I was gluing sandpaper of various grits to tongue depressors.)

    Once there are no high frets with the guitar strung to pitch I will then loosen or remove the strings to do the final dressing and polishing using assorted abrasives.

    Just my own opinions here... YMMV

    Steve Ahola

    P.S. For the tools needed to do this the best bargain I've found is UAAC. You can get just the notched straight-edge for around $15 including shipping.

    For about $38 you can also get a beam (8" or 19") plus a fret rocker.


    To upgrade the fretboard/fret beam levelers I recommend AmplifiedParts which sells heavy steel tubular beams for $12 and $19. They also sell a higher quality fret rocker than UAAC for $8.75.
    They have stores in eBay and Antique Electronic Supply as well as their own website.***

    P.S. You can spend a lot more on fret rockers and leveling beams but for working on your own guitars I think that the tools from Amplified Parts give you the most bang for your buck.

    *** I just checked and they are run by the same folks that run Antique Electronic Supply...

    Amplified Parts was created to serve musicians looking to customize their sound or simply fix their amplifier or guitar. Amplified Parts is a new entity itself, but as a DBA of Antique Electronic Supply, LLC (, it is backed by over 25 years of experience serving the electronic hobbyist market. We are a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau.

    The focus of Amplified Parts is on the musician who is not an electronic technician and who wants to create his/her own sound or tone by modifying their existing amplifier or guitar.

    Every musician is unique and has the desire to create his/her own tone. Amplified Parts assists in finding that unique sound.
    Last edited by Steve A.; 09-25-2015, 06:20 PM.
    The Blue Guitar
    Some recordings:


    • #3
      Thank you very much steve ahola.
      I have the L square 24" ruler but may have to buy said notched ruler to confirm straightness prior leveling.
      I will source it from said dollar bang.
      I am old, my eyes poor sighting, so I must take caution.
      But my hands are crafty.
      This tk guitar sounds great, I installed two junked orig tele coils as peavey's coils are too excessive by ceramic.
      But the musicstore who gave them free said open coils, so unwind, splice, rewind, just takes methodological patience.