Fret leveling on comound radius?

Wana_make_a_guitar

Senior member
Messages
2,793
Hey guys,
i'm trying to teach myself how to set up my guitar before it's done so when I put it together I won't have to pay $200 bucks just you intonate the bridge and level the frets.

I've already learned how to intonate my floyd bridge, but now I need to know if it's any different leveling frets on a compound radius neck compared to a straight radius neck. If so, what do I do?

thanks
 

dudesweet157

Senior member
Messages
647
I would highly recommend that you play it first before you start messing around with frets.  Both of mine came out of the box perfect for me, and there are many others who've had the same experience.
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,224
dudesweet157 said:
I would highly recommend that you play it first before you start messing around with frets.  Both of mine came out of the box perfect for me, and there are many others who've had the same experience.

Ditto - I've never leveled the frets on my warmoths.  'course I'm not trying to be a super shred demon (or is that deamon?)
 

Graffiti62

Senior member
Messages
654
One thing to consider as well is that there is a reasonable capital investment on fret files. If you want to dress your own frets, you wind up buying $50 or $60 worth of tools to get the job done. Then again, you do save money by not going to the music shop. Also, having fret files can be very handy to a college student. Get the word out to enough musicians on campus that you know how to do a setup and you won't have to buy yourself any beer till graduation time.
 

stubhead

Senior member
Messages
4,669
I really, really don't think fret leveling is something you want to start out doing until you've owned a number of different guitars and understand how to sight a fretboard, what "fall away" is, what causes the dread s-curves... are you already comfortable thinking in terms of .003" adjustments over a 25.5" length? It's just possible that a decade of truing gunstocks or aligning industrial machinery would be a good substitute for years of setting up guitars. You certainly don't need all the goofball tools that Stew-Mac says you need, but you do need some long and short straightedges you really trust. Dan Erlewines' book "Complete Guitar Player Repair Guide" has all the information, but you still need some technical skill from woodworking or machining experience - it would be a lot easier (AND SAFER) to save $100 elsewhere, initially... 365 days a year X $5 fast food = $1,825....

Now, if should turn out that you have a single high fret that's loose or just glued high, you can poke back in here (or read the required BOOK) and fix that up easily enough, but a full level, crown and polish is not an easy job. My experience has also been that the majority of times, Warmoth frets are plenty level to get going with, but the ends are nippy and need to be rounded off - it's all in the book. There are some well-written, informative, nicely-arranged photo tutorials about fret leveling on the internet with information that is DEAD WRONG... have you ever considered trying to apprentice a summer or two with a real guitar tech or luthier? Some of the best jobs in music are NOT playing in bands.
 

blue313

Senior member
Messages
2,824
The basic theory in leveling a compound radius is that the fretboards overall shape isn't a cylindrical its a conical.  You are leveling at angles instead of straight up. 

I agree with the others on this one.  Better to get some practice under your belt first before tackling a compound neck. 
 

vtpcnk

Senior member
Messages
743
the first time i bought a warmoth neck i had this problem with unlevelled frets - 2 of them - 13th and 17th.

the sound was tinny on these frets and so have to be set right.

when i called warmoth i was told that a fret level was necessary after buying the neck!

i paid $30 to get it done.
 

rahimiiii

Senior member
Messages
311
You don't need fretfiles, you can use a normal triangular file with the edges ground flat for crowning frets, in fact I prefer triangular files because I don't need a million files for different size of frets and I can file stainless steel frets with it and if the files wear out just get a new one. If you want to level a fret yourself get a flat diamond sharpening stone or something and mark the top of the fret with a marker to show how much you need to be taking off. Then you would file until you are able to get the tops of the marker off, then mark them again and use the triangular file to file at both sides of the fret until you get a skinny line.
 

Graffiti62

Senior member
Messages
654
rahimiiii said:
You don't need fretfiles, you can use a normal triangular file with the edges ground flat for crowning frets, in fact I prefer triangular files because I don't need a million files for different size of frets and I can file stainless steel frets with it and if the files wear out just get a new one. If you want to level a fret yourself get a flat diamond sharpening stone or something and mark the top of the fret with a marker to show how much you need to be taking off. Then you would file until you are able to get the tops of the marker off, then mark them again and use the triangular file to file at both sides of the fret until you get a skinny line.

I remember reading an old interview with Eddie Van Halen, and he used the very same technique to do his fretwork. You're fine to do this, as long as you've got taller frets to work with, like a 6100 or a 6105. 6230 could even be dressed like this, but with as small as it is, you may not have a lot of bend space. However, if you do this on something like 6130 wire, you're not going to have a whole heck of a lot of luck, just mainly due to the shape of it. A lot of factory Gibsons come with this wire, which was made famous during the whole "fretless wonder" era, due to the fact that it was so easy to run your fingers over it.
 
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