Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Fret Level and Crown on the Danelectro DC-2

Did a quick level and crown on the DC-2. I want to get it playing as well as possible. My friend who is getting this guitar is a perfesshinul moosishun so she deserves the best.

I've documented this a few times but here we go again...because we can!

Adjust the truss rod so the neck is flat. As flat as you can get it. I have a long Stew-Mac straightedge I use to judge how flat the neck is.

Then mark the fret tops with a marker.

I have an appropriately-sized piece of Corian to use to level the frets with. I attach a piece of 300 grit paper with spray adhesive (temporary bond strength) and go at it.

When all the marker is gone from the frets, they are levelled. Doesn't take long at all.

Then we crown the frets. I have a couple of different fret files - this time I'm using one with a wide and medium side. These frets are wide, so that's what I used.  Makes sense, right?

Usually I work on instruments with narrow or medium frets. Not his one.

You may be wondering "how do you know when you've filed enough with the crowning file?"

Good question. I've tried to show this in the picture on the right. If you look at the fret with the green arrow pointing to it on the left, it's flat on top. You can see the flatted surface.

The one on the right has been crowned; it doesn't have that flat surface. As you file them, take a few strokes, then look at the fret. Gradually that flat surface will get smaller (narrower) until it's gone. You can also see the curved (crowned) shape if you view the fret from the side.

I usually find that I have to tilt or angle the file a bit as I work it so it removes that flat surface. It's not rocket surgery, but it does take a bit of practice to get used to.

You may be thinking, "well, first you used sandpaper, now you've filed the frets.  How much fret will be left?"  A lot.  We're really only taking off a couple hundredths of an inch (or mm).  Very little material in reality.  If the frets are in good shape, only enough to level them gets removed.  The only time more material comes off is if some frets are worn.  Even then, it's possible to level down to the wear.

If the frets are badly worn or deeply grooved, then it's time for a refret.  (That Martin ukulele in the link did get refretted eventually).  I've found a set of frets can be dressed a couple of times before new frets are needed.

Now we go over the fret ends to take off any rough edges and file them a bit round. This guitar only had a couple places to touch up.

When you do a full refret, you'll have to bevel the ends and you'll do more smoothing of the ends than in a level job like this one.

I take a finger or my thumb and run it up and down the side of the fingerboard to find rough fret ends. It will make a big difference in playability and comfort if you file any sharp ends off.

Next step is to use Fret Erasers to polish the frets. These are abrasive blocks that run from 150 to 1000 grit. I really like them. When you get up to 1000 grit the frets are nice and shiny and super smooth.

Stew Mac is now selling a couple grits higher than 1000 now...I need to check them out.

Now we clean the board. I've been using Dunlop fretboard cleaner and conditioner. You may have seen some of the really grimy old boards I've done...this one was surprisingly dirty.

Final touch is Fretboard Finishing Oil. I starting using this a year or so ago and I like it. That bottle is probably a 20 year supply! I takes just a small amount for the fingerboard.

Apply it, let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess. It looks shiny here, but you'll see it in a couple posts from now when it's dry - it looks great.

There's been a LOT of discussion in guitar forums about using oil on fingerboards. Most folks now think lemon oil is not good unless it's pure without additives. I do have some good oil, but since I started using this stuff, I've stuck with it.  Seems to work well, not oily and makes the board look good.

Did I mention this guitar is pink?


Post a Comment 2 comments:

  • Sven Nyström said...
    January 25, 2016 at 1:36 PM
    Wait a minute... is that guitar pink, or am I seeing things?
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    February 2, 2016 at 8:15 PM
    Either it's pink, or we BOTH have bad eyesight!

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