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Do "gritty frets" become smooth frets with time, or remain gritty?


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Read a couple references to "gritty" frets recently.

 

I of course know what they're talking about. I've felt that on some of the guitars in my collection as well.

 

But when I'm bending or imparting vibrato and feel this "grit", I often wonder if the string wear against the frets will smooth them out.

 

Or is the grade of metal just so porous and pitted that it will stay that way as it wears?

 

I'd like to be an optimist on this question. :D

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If the frets are unpolished or rough, or micro-pitted, things will never get better. The increased friction will cause more wear, and the wear will tend to be uneven.

 

OTOH, most players will never ever play enough to produce meaningful fret wear. So if the guitar is playable now, for you, then I wouldn't worry about it at all.

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Is your guitar new? I bought a new Godin LG a couple of weeks ago, and the frets felt a bit draggy when string bending, but when I played it a little this morning, I immediately noticed string bends felt so smooth and easy. I guess its just broken in :D

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Don't expect your new guitar to play like butta right out of the box, unless it's a high-end model. On lower or medium priced guitars, the manufacturers don't polish the frets. However, it's a REALLY easy job.

 

Get some 0000 steel wool from any hardware store. Tear off a small piece, about twice the size of a cotton ball. Remove your strings, and cover the neck pup (to keep any stray steel wool "hairs" from sticking to the magnets). When the strings are off, just polish away. Usually 15-20 strokes on each fret is enough. No need to cover the fretboard, as the 0000 wool is not rough enough to cut into the wood.

 

After polishing, the frets will have a high sheen, and be smooth as glass. You can follow up with a VERY light coat of lemon oil, just wipe the oil off before it soaks in too deeply. And before the lemon oil argument starts, let me say that I've been treating my fretboards with lemon oil for 20 years with NO adverse effects.

 

I do this to all the guitars I work on (I have a little side business doing set-ups and minor repairs for friends), and my customers can't believe how well their guitars play when I'm done.

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Originally posted by ProToneThinline

Don't expect your new guitar to play like butta right out of the box, unless it's a high-end model. On lower or medium priced guitars, the manufacturers don't polish the frets. However, it's a REALLY easy job.


Get some 0000 steel wool from any hardware store. Tear off a small piece, about twice the size of a cotton ball. Remove your strings, and cover the neck pup (to keep any stray steel wool "hairs" from sticking to the magnets). When the strings are off, just polish away. Usually 15-20 strokes on each fret is enough. No need to cover the fretboard, as the 0000 wool is not rough enough to cut into the wood.


After polishing, the frets will have a high sheen, and be smooth as glass. You can follow up with a VERY light coat of lemon oil, just wipe the oil off before it soaks in too deeply. And before the lemon oil argument starts, let me say that I've been treating my fretboards with lemon oil for 20 years with NO adverse effects.


I do this to all the guitars I work on (I have a little side business doing set-ups and minor repairs for friends), and my customers can't believe how well their guitars play when I'm done.

 

 

cool..keep up the good work !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i second the idea. here is another take on it.

 

i use synthetic ooo steel wool. it is non-magnetic and doesn't come apart like regular steel wool. i use painter's tape to cover the fretboard between the frets. just in case of a slip up and to clean the junk from the side of the frets.

 

i too have been using lemon oil for 20 or so years and my 20 or so year old guitars look and feel like new.

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I use 0000 steel wool on my ebony fretboard to lightly clean the wood in between string changes and to polish up the frets! Works great!

 

I do have a slight issue though. I am restoring an abused strat copy with a finished maple fret board. I used the same 0000 steel wool to take the rust off the frets and did not cover the fretboard with tape or anything. There is now micro scratch/swirl marks all over the lacquer/poly "finish" on the freatboard. Any tips on polishing these out? Pledge?

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Get some masking tape, tape off the wood portion of the fretboard. Get some 500 grit sandpaper (the kind used for autobody finish work) and a good straight sanding block. Use that to lightly polish the frets. Should take no more than 10 minutes and the results are great.

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Originally posted by LoboR1

I use 0000 steel wool on my ebony fretboard to lightly clean the wood in between string changes and to polish up the frets! Works great!


I do have a slight issue though. I am restoring an abused strat copy with a finished maple fret board. I used the same 0000 steel wool to take the rust off the frets and did not cover the fretboard with tape or anything. There is now micro scratch/swirl marks all over the lacquer/poly "finish" on the freatboard. Any tips on polishing these out? Pledge?

 

 

 

im not sure about the pledge, if i recal correctly it simply will collect and buildup dust - which will turn to gunk and slow you down

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Walmart sells these 7 way fingernail files that work sweet for polishing the frets. Its like a foam block with 7 different grits of sand paper. You go from removing small pits to a fine smooth polish and man it makes the frets smooth as butta. When you have nice polished frets bends are so smooth and effortless.

 

What i like about the fingernail file is its easy to get, its cheap and its easy to hold and use. You can tape the fretboard if you want but since it goes up to a polish grade you winde up cleaning the fretboard

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Originally posted by ProToneThinline

Don't expect your new guitar to play like butta right out of the box, unless it's a high-end model. On lower or medium priced guitars, the manufacturers don't polish the frets. However, it's a REALLY easy job.


Get some 0000 steel wool from any hardware store. Tear off a small piece, about twice the size of a cotton ball. Remove your strings, and cover the neck pup (to keep any stray steel wool "hairs" from sticking to the magnets). When the strings are off, just polish away. Usually 15-20 strokes on each fret is enough. No need to cover the fretboard, as the 0000 wool is not rough enough to cut into the wood.


After polishing, the frets will have a high sheen, and be smooth as glass. You can follow up with a VERY light coat of lemon oil, just wipe the oil off before it soaks in too deeply. And before the lemon oil argument starts, let me say that I've been treating my fretboards with lemon oil for 20 years with NO adverse effects.


I do this to all the guitars I work on (I have a little side business doing set-ups and minor repairs for friends), and my customers can't believe how well their guitars play when I'm done.

:

 

 

+1 on that method. I do 50-100 strokes per fret though. A little overkill maybe, but I haven't had any problems with this method:thu: :wave:

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Originally posted by ProToneThinline

Get some 0000 steel wool from any hardware store. Tear off a small piece, about twice the size of a cotton ball. ...


No need to cover the fretboard, as the 0000 wool is not rough enough to cut into the wood.


 

I tried this on a rosewood fretboard. Worked very nicely to smooth out the fret wires, but I now have hairline scratches across t he grain.

 

I tried this on a neck from a cheap guitar, so no real love lost if the scratches can't be buffed.

 

If I use steel wool to buff along the grain will that lift the scratches?

 

Also is steel wool recommended to polish frets on a maple fretboard (vintage-looking SX neck)?

 

TIA, all!

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Originally posted by guitarNed

OTOH, most players will never ever play enough to produce meaningful fret wear. So if the guitar is playable now, for you, then I wouldn't worry about it at all.

 

You're kidding, right?

 

Even if you just play for an hour or two a day, it doesn't take too long to wear a lot of frets down enough to effect playability. I've got a PRS whose frets were almost unplayable after only 5 years (granted, I played a lot more back then and it was my only electric guitar). I've also got an acoustic that need a few frets replaced. Now that I don't play 4+ hours every day and have several guitars that I play frequently instead of just one, the fret wear has slowed tremendously. But if you're playing a lot and only have one or two guitars to play, fret wear happens pretty quickly.

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Originally posted by animl



I tried this on a rosewood fretboard. Worked very nicely to smooth out the fret wires, but I now have hairline scratches across t he grain.


I tried this on a neck from a cheap guitar, so no real love lost if the scratches can't be buffed.


If I use steel wool to buff along the grain will that lift the scratches?


Also is steel wool recommended to polish frets on a maple fretboard (vintage-looking SX neck)?


TIA, all!

 

0000 shouldn't leave much in the way of lines in the fret metal. (I guess you are referring to the wood?)

 

If you want to protect the fretboard, mask the wood with quick-release masking tape before you work on the frets.

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Originally posted by Prages



You're kidding, right?


Even if you just play for an hour or two a day, it doesn't take too long to wear a lot of frets down enough to effect playability. I've got a PRS whose frets were almost unplayable after only 5 years (granted, I played a lot more back then and it was my only electric guitar). I've also got an acoustic that need a few frets replaced. Now that I don't play 4+ hours every day and have several guitars that I play frequently instead of just one, the fret wear has slowed tremendously. But if you're playing a lot and only have one or two guitars to play, fret wear happens pretty quickly.

 

True fact.

 

Steel is harder than brass or bronze. Strings WILL wear frets with any playing.

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Originally posted by jerry_picker



0000 shouldn't leave much in the way of lines in the fret metal. (I guess you are referring to the wood?)


If you want to protect the fretboard, mask the wood with quick-release masking tape before you work on the frets.

 

Yes, there are hairline scratches in the rosewood. As I said, cheap guitar, cheap rosewood, no biggie, but I'd like to remove the scratches. Do you think polishing along the grain buff out the scratches, or is there a better way?

 

Live & learn, the next one gets taped.

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