This thing is starting to look like a guitar. I have a few more things left to do before we hear the first twang.
The next thing to do is to level and recrown the frets.
Quite a few 'second-level' American-made guitars dating from the 1930s to the 1950s, such as this Kay, used brass frets rather than nickel. I can only surmise that the brass frets were less expensive. To my knowledge, neither Martin or Gibson ever used them. Personally, I like them. They're easy to work with, they look good (although they tarnish quickly), and they sound good. The downside is the wear, although ironically, the instruments I've seen with brass frets haven't shown bad wear.
Anyway, on with the show.
I also went back and forth on whether or not to make an access groove in the brace under the fingerboard extension. In the end, I finally just did it. I used the flex attachment for the Dremel and sanded a circular groove.
I mention this because the first thing to do in the levelling process is to make the fretboard as flat as possible by adjusting the truss rod.
Also see the
At least I don't have to see it all the time.
What we'll be doing is sanding them with a level block, until all of the marks are gone, which means all the frets are at the same height.
The corian is super level - within a zillionth of an inch or something. Way more accuracy than we need, but there you have it.
Don't need much pressure, just use the weight of the block to follow the radius of the frets. It's not rocket surgery. If I can do it, anyone can.
In a couple minutes, all of the marks will be gone.
The dust is brass - I just vacuumed it up.
This is the 8th fret viewed from the bass side. See how flat the top is? This is extreme, since we've just levelled it, but very worn frets will become flat too. This shows why frets need to be redressed periodically (until there's not enough material to work with).
A fretted string should only contact one point on the top of the fret for accurate intonation as well as no buzzes. We're going to crown this puppy (and all of the other frets) to a nice arc.
The fret crowning file I'm using is also a narrow one to suit the fret size. It has a coarse and a fine side.
This time I counted the number of strokes - about forty or so with the 'coarse' side of the file until the fret was crowned. Then another 12 or so with the 'fine' until the flat shape was gone.
I didn't touch the fret ends at all, just the tops. For one thing, they were dressed so they fall inside the binding, so they don't stick out over the ends of the board. Second, they were very nicely dressed already. No extra work required.
In the past, I've started with the 150 grit (which is what I have in the picture). But this time it seemed like the 150 and the 400 were actually flattening the fret tops! Maybe it's because these are brass frets and are softer than nickel. At any rate, I just used the 800 and then 1000 grits to polish this time.
This might be something to be aware of if you use these. I really like them, but the lower grits could take off more material than you expect. Possibly. Jury's still out on that one.
Here we have that 8th fret after crowning and polishing. You can clearly see the crown shape from this angle. Quite a difference.
Not only will this play in tune, it's super smooth on the fingers.
The board was filthy - as so many are. But now it looks great. I'm pretty sure this is Brazilian rosewood. Probably worth more than three of these guitars are.
Now I need to make a new saddle and nut and set it up.