Removing fret finish


New member
Hey guys,

Just got my new neck from Warmoth for a tele im building (pics to come when its finished) and it looks and feels great.  So ive done numerous searches on the subject and found a few different ways to remove the finish from the frets.  I just have a few questions and wanna see what most people recommend.  The neck is a satin finished maple tele vintage modern with regular 6105 frets if that makes any difference. SO...

Method 1: Taping off fretboard and using steel wool to remove the finish

- Seems easy enough but I wanna do as little harm to the frets as possible even if it is just a little polishing with the steel wool.  I dont wanna spend money on a fret dressing or leveling at the moment so Im hoping W did a great job underneath the finish and i wanna keep them as pristine as possible.  Would synthetic steel wool be easier on the frets? and Im correct in saying i just need to get the finish off the crowns of the frets right? and not the sides?

Method 2: Scoring finish where frets meet the fret board and chipping away at the finish

- This seems the best way to me of keeping the frets in perfect shape underneath the finish if i chip it away with something that wont mark them like my fingernail or plastic knife?  Is there any drawback to removing the finish over the entire fret?  Any chance of moisture getting in, frets lifting from the fretboard, further chipping happening on the fretboad itself, etc?

And Im not even gonna bother with the heating the fret method cause that just seems like a bad idea to me, haha.

So guys if anyone can give their opinions and experience on the matter itd be much appreciated.  Sorry for the long winded post and thanks in advance.

The fastest and best way is to use a fret leveller to run across the fretboard and then recrown each fret lightly.

The slowest and cheapest way is to use an old guitar string (preferably an Unwound G string  :laughing8: ) and scour each fret to expose the metal surface.

A word of caution :  If you use steel wool to polish your frets, make sure you tape off the pickups as the magnetic polepieces love those fine steel shreds.
Thanx fellas.. like I said i dont have the cash for a level right now and i heard W do a great job 90 percent of the time anyway.  Any more opinions out there?
Tonar8353 said:
Method 1 with 0000 steel wool.

0000 steel wool wont do much to a fret except polish it or remove crud and finish.  It doesn't have the tooth to be able to harm the fret in any way.  Tape everything off and steel wool it.

Edit: As a matter of fact, I'd recommend doing that once a year.  It'll remove any "build up" and bring back the shine.