Any recommendations for fretwork tools?

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Thread: Any recommendations for fretwork tools?

  1. #1


    Join Date: Mar 2010
    Location: Maribor, Slovenia
    ME: Schecter Tempest
    MA: Cort Dread
    MB: Troy Sanders Jaguar
    Rig: Thermionik

    iTrader: 0

    Any recommendations for fretwork tools?

    I'll be getting some tax money back in the next month or so , so I thought now would be a good time to get the tools I need to start working on the frets on my guitars - one of which has large grooves in the frets, and another has never been levelled.

    From my understanding, to do this properly you need a file or levelling beam, straightedge, crowning files, some regular files for bevelling the ends of the frets, and something to polish the frets with afterwards.

    I'm currently looking at getting a Summit levelling beam (which I should be able to use the back of as a straightedge), and some fret polishing rubbers.
    I'll also get a diamond crowning file, though I've found them in both straight and curved, and in 150 and 300 grit, so I've got no idea which one/s I'll need.

    Any opinions on what I've listed? Anything I've missed out? Any brands you would recommend/avoid?

  2. #2


    Join Date: Sep 2013
    Location: Just outside Boston
    ME: Jackson DXMG
    MA: ibanez
    Rig: Jam Up/Bias

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    A recrowning tool is the best money spent. The stew Mac diamond file has fine and medium grit on one piece. Just turn it around for the grit you want.
    I use a long piece of maple to do leveling. Other than that, a fret rocker may come in handy. But really I don't use anything other than the straight block of maple, the crowning tool, some sandpaper and steel wool and a marker. Some basic metal files from the hardware store one in handy too. That's if you're installing new frets. Jmtc

  3. #3


    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
    ME: Charvel SoCal Custom
    MB: Spector NS2000Q4
    Rig: Dual Rectifier (Reborn)

    iTrader: 3 (100%)

    You need a good range of sandpapers, from about 340-2000 grit, some various wire wools, double sided tape, levelling beam, and a recrowning file. Do not buy the concave bullshit, buy a proper flat file (triangular, with the corners ground off) and learn how to recrown with a steady hand.
    www.numbskullaudio.com
    Recording. Mixing. Mastering. Editing. Re-Amping.

  4. #4


    Join Date: Sep 2013
    Location: Just outside Boston
    ME: Jackson DXMG
    MA: ibanez
    Rig: Jam Up/Bias

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    I've been using a concave file for years without any issue "shrug"

  5. #5


    Join Date: Jan 2016
    Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
    ME: S7420
    MB: 'Ray
    Rig: Ironheart

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    I too prefer triangle files, because they work on any fret size. Using a med-jumbo file on extra-jumbo frets is indeed, some fucking bullshit.

    I'm happy with everything I've bought from Crimson Guitars, tri-corner file included.

    Now, about leveling. Don't get a file, it's really a time-saving tool for fretjobs that were once properly level. It's short, so can't fix unlevel frets in the 1-5 fret area on a brand new guitar, and aggressive, so removes a lot of material. Instead, get a long non-notched straight edge and self-adhesive sandpaper. Stick the sandpaper to the narrow part of the edge, and there's no need to buy a beam.

    Fret polishing is tedious and you only get the result for the effort and attention that you put in. I would recommend not going through grits in steps like 300, 400, 500, but in big jumps like 500, 1000, 2000. The rationale is that you can see when ALL the scratches from the previous grit are done. Then do the frets with 8000 grit micromesh (it's cleaner than steel wool) and finally metal polish like Autosol. It's not required, but it does improve the feel of the guitar.

    I don't like the fret rubbers I've tried, they're a bit slow compared to sandpaper.

    TL/DR tools:
    Tri-corner file
    Straight edge (non-notched)
    Self-adhesive sandpaper (300 grit)
    Sandpaper 500, 1000, 2000 grit
    Micromesh 8000 grit
    Autosol
    Various widths of masking tape
    Optional: Hosco fret end file

  6. #6


    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Cambridgeshire, UK
    ME: Charvel SoCal Custom
    MB: Spector NS2000Q4
    Rig: Dual Rectifier (Reborn)

    iTrader: 3 (100%)

    It's easy to over-file with the recrowning files, and as petarkablam said, they don't accommodate for varying fret widths. They do work though, they're just not for me.

  7. #7


    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Deep South, MS
    ME: Rich Mahogany
    MA: Godin A6 Ultra
    MB: SR500
    Rig: Massive/Boobies

    iTrader: 16 (100%)

    I picked up a few jewelry files to trim the fret ends that were hanging from my LP neck. Anything more than that, and I'm taking it to a professional

  8. #8


    Join Date: Jan 2013
    Location: Louisiana
    ME: Jackson DK27/DKMG
    MB: Yamaha RBX775
    Rig: Randall V2/Mesa OS 412

    iTrader: 0

    I can't recommend much except a good diamond file for recrowning.

    I went with a standard file for crowning. I only used a beater guitar, but it nearly ruined the frets. Lots of chattering and was very uneven. Seemed like the tool itself wore out super quick.

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