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View Full Version : Slightly loose fret: Do it myself?



Joe Beamish
09-20-2009, 12:59 PM
The G string buzzes at the 4th fret on my kamaka pineapple. I discovered that the 5th fret is slightly loose on the G string side (but apparently secure on the A string side).

Should I take the instrument to a luthier? Or try to fix it myself? And if so, how?

Thanks

Joe

sukie
09-20-2009, 01:13 PM
I had this problem a while ago too. This is how they fixed it: they took a rubber mallet and gently tapped the fret wire back in. If you're careful I'm sure you could do it yourself. That's all I'm able to tell you.

Joe Beamish
09-20-2009, 01:46 PM
Thanks for the response! Sounds like "they" are the answer, meaning I should take it to someone else.

-- I don't have a rubber mallet
-- Not sure how to protect the neck while hammering at it

Taking it in means weeks of waiting, unfortunately, which I really was hoping to avoid.

Blrfl
09-20-2009, 03:32 PM
Fret wire retains itself in the fretboard with little tangs that stick out of the sides and embed themselves in the slot. If one side has come up, it means the wood isn't holding it anymore. A luthier will either knock it back in hard enough to get the tangs to grab again, or he'll have to replace the entire fret, offsetting the tangs so they have fresh wood to grab.

You might see if you can get Kamaka to send you a length of the fret wire they used on your uke so there will be less time spent waiting and you'll have a better fix. Replacing one fret doesn't take all that long, so unless you send it to someone who's backed up, you shouldn't be without it for an extended period.

--Mark

Joe Beamish
09-20-2009, 03:44 PM
Thanks, Mark.

Yeah, the local shop is backed up 6-8 weeks. And the uke is from the 60s, so I doubt Kamaka will send the right fret wire.

I might try gluing the fret end down, as it otherwise sits firmly in place across the fretboard. It's just springy on one extreme end. If the glue doesn't work, I'll take the uke in and wait two months.

buddhuu
09-21-2009, 10:34 PM
I have built string instruments in the past, including cutting fret slots and fitting and dressing frets... but fret work is still the one job I won't tackle DIY on my favourite instruments. The couple of times I tried it didn't work out great and I didn't actually improve the problem.

If you're working with a new fretboard, all nice and flat with well cut slots, and new wire, as when building from scratch, then all is well. The trouble I found was that if you have a fretboard where the wood has shrunk, or where the factory cut a couple of the slots too wide to hold the frets snug, then you can't always tell by looking, but you find out soon enough when you try to work on the frets and nothing goes right!

My mandolin has a slightly low fret up around the 14th or 15th, but I'm not messing with it. I don't often play that far up anyhow. If I did want it fixed I'd put it in the shop. And no way would I mess with the frets on my tenor uke.

YMMV. You may find a gentle tap is all yours needs and it all goes fine.

Hope you get it sorted ok.

cornfedgroove
09-22-2009, 11:49 AM
they will also dollop a little glue in there to help fill in the gaps and secure it if the wood is worn.

ukulele2544
09-22-2009, 11:57 AM
I'm not good at fixing stuff so if I was you, I would take it to a luthier.

Joe Beamish
09-23-2009, 03:36 AM
My baby's in the shop as we speak -- thanks to all for your advice -- I came to the same conclusions: What if I try gluing the frets down but it doesn't work? (I noticed about 5 frets loose on one end) Wouldn't this make the job even more difficult for someone else to tackle later? And so forth.

I'll have to wait -- not sure how long. Weeks. But I remembered I have a Lanikai sitting around that my daughter sometimes plays. So now I'm playing that while I wait.

Thanks for being informative, thoughtful, and responsive!

Joe

buddhuu
09-23-2009, 05:41 AM
My baby's in the shop as we speak -- thanks to all for your advice -- I came to the same conclusions: What if I try gluing the frets down but it doesn't work? (I noticed about 5 frets loose on one end) Wouldn't this make the job even more difficult for someone else to tackle later? And so forth.

I'll have to wait -- not sure how long. Weeks. But I remembered I have a Lanikai sitting around that my daughter sometimes plays. So now I'm playing that while I wait.

Thanks for being informative, thoughtful, and responsive!

Joe

Wise man. If in doubt run to the pros.

Good luck with it, Joe. Hope it's fixed fast.