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A simple guide to - Fret Levelling.

The difference between a guitar that plays well and one that doesn't - is a good setup. You can only get the best possible setup with level frets. Sometimes even brand new instruments will not have perfectly level frets. By the time an instrument has been packaged, shipped and sold the guitar has most likely gone through a certain amount of temperature changes and 'settling in'. This can result in some differences in fret height. More commonly, well used guitars that are played regularly begin to show signs of fret wear. The friction of the string against the fret causes 'low' spots, resulting in the string contacting with the following fret.

This results in 'fret buzz' or in the worst case 'choking out'.

Example This is extremely common and it's actually very rare I see a guitar with perfect frets. There is a middle ground to which a setup can resolve most issues, however the best option is always a fret dress. A setup is only as good as your frets allow it. What is a fret dress? A fret dress is the process of levelling all your frets to the same height - then 'crowning' (shaping the frets) to form a point to which the string will contact.

. The process...

  1. Straightening the neck

  2. Taping off the board

  3. Marking the frets

  4. Levelling the frets with a levelling beam

  5. Crowning

  6. Sanding through the grades

  7. Buffing

  8. Remove board tape and oil/clean

The extreme...

In some cases the fret wear is so bad on a guitar a fret dress would not be sufficient. In these cases I would suggest a 're-fret'. I will discuss this further in another article. Thanks for reading!

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