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Thread: I Hate Sharp Frets... Normal? How to Fix?

  1. #1
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    Default I Hate Sharp Frets... Normal? How to Fix?

    I have bought quite a few $180-$250 Concert and Tenor ukuleles that have arrived with sharp fret edges that cut into my index finger when playing. Should a buyer expect sharp frets in this price range? Also, is it possible for me to go ahead and file them out or will I scratch the heck out of the neck and fretboard? The ukuleles that I have had in this price range were Kala and Lanikai..... I have even read the some of some of the $300 ones still have sharp frets (Koa Pili Koko was named as one) ... Acceptable or Not? Thanks

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't say it's acceptable, but it's not unheard of. You can file them with out too much trouble. Use masking tape to protect the wood around the fret and neck when you file it.

  3. #3

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    Or if your nervous or tool impaired any good guitar repair place can do it... cheap too. Common job.

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  4. #4
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    Default Sharp Frets on my Samick UK-70

    I had the same problem with my Samick UK-70 Uke (which I really love, even though it's a cheap uke and made of plywood). I like the mellow and full sound of it, so I gave her a full treatment: filed out the sharp frets and also built in a passive pickup (man, it really hurt me to drill the 12 mm hole in the body of this fragile 4-stringed friend of mine!!!). I also oiled the fretboard with olive oil (there's probably some better agent on the market for this purpose???) - but olive oil did the job alright.
    I think, if you love your uke, it's a pleasure to give it some cosmetic fixup, isn't it?
    On the other hand, if you're talking about a more expensive uke, I wouldn't accept sharp frets. For example, if I received a Pono with sharp frets I would send her back immediately. But in case of the Samick, I even enjoyed doing some little work on my own... because it's such a cutie! (Hope you don't think I'm crazy now...)

  5. #5
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    If you mean protruding sharp fret ends then I'd say it's not acceptable, even on low end ukes. In fact, in the past I have actually cut myself on protruding frets on guitars.

    If you mean sharp as in they have been filed to about the right shape but then not dressed, smoothed and polished properly, then it's annoying, but not uncommon - and by no means confined to cheap instruments.

    If it's the latter then you shouldn't need to file. Progressively fine grits of emery or wet&dry paper should do the trick. Mask off the fretboard and neck withe tape and then wrap the paper around two or three fingers and whiz it up and down the edge of the fretboard at an angle similar to that of the fret-end bevel. You're probably looking at an angle of about 45 degrees, but often you'll feel through the paper when you're at the correct angle. do a few whizzes tilted sightly further in each direction - steeper and shallower angle.

    Don't use too coarse paper in a bid to do the job more quickly. That just introduces risk of removing too much material and scratching everything up.

    As always, if you're nervous or clumsy don't risk damaging your uke. Seek advice from a pro or an experienced tweaker.
    Rick

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  6. #6
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    Thanks to All... Really appreciate the help. The problem is that the frets themselves are sticking out beyond the neck on the sides which makes it difficult to sand with out marring the side of the neck. I think this is the condition you get when the neck shrinks due to low humidity. The top of the frets appears to be fine. If I ran a file along the sides of the neck to remove the excess frets I do believe I will take off some wood and finish for sure. I guess what bothers me most is that a new ukulele should arrive with decent frets and then it's up to the owner to keep it humidified... or not.

  7. #7
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    On my new Pete Howlett uke the frets are pretty steep at the sides so when you slide with a bar chord it hurts a little. Didn't have this with my Kala. Don't mind to much though.

    (my band, not something dirty)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddhu View Post
    If you mean protruding sharp fret ends then I'd say it's not acceptable, even on low end ukes. In fact, in the past I have actually cut myself on protruding frets on guitars.

    If you mean sharp as in they have been filed to about the right shape but then not dressed, smoothed and polished properly, then it's annoying, but not uncommon - and by no means confined to cheap instruments.

    If it's the latter then you shouldn't need to file. Progressively fine grits of emery or wet&dry paper should do the trick. Mask off the fretboard and neck withe tape and then wrap the paper around two or three fingers and whiz it up and down the edge of the fretboard at an angle similar to that of the fret-end bevel. You're probably looking at an angle of about 45 degrees, but often you'll feel through the paper when you're at the correct angle. do a few whizzes tilted sightly further in each direction - steeper and shallower angle.

    Don't use too coarse paper in a bid to do the job more quickly. That just introduces risk of removing too much material and scratching everything up.

    As always, if you're nervous or clumsy don't risk damaging your uke. Seek advice from a pro or an experienced tweaker.
    Man, you are thorough!! (Are you a real German perhaps??) I could never muster the patience and energy to do all this... I just used an ordinary key file. It served the purpose quite well.
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  9. #9
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    Sadly, and suprisingly, my Pono has sharp fret ends at the higher frets. It hasn't bothered me yet since I don't play in that area much but eventually I'm going to fix them. So thanks for asking the question, and thanks for the answers!
    "I can't tell if it's an A# or a Bb..."
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by khrome View Post
    Sadly, and suprisingly, my Pono has sharp fret ends at the higher frets. It hasn't bothered me yet since I don't play in that area much but eventually I'm going to fix them. So thanks for asking the question, and thanks for the answers!
    Yep - my Pono is like that too. They got lazy with the higher frets. It's not severe (I played some Portuguese brand this summer that actually broke skin) but just a little sloppy. Easy fix when I bother to get around to it.

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