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fa'a Junior
06-10-2010, 05:32 PM
My coworker got one of those Stew Mac kits and we are at the point of dressing the frets. But we need advice on the fretwork.

1) What is the ideal height of the frets off the fretboard. Can I just level them out. Or is their an ideal height of say .045" off the fingerboard? We don't want to go to low as we don't have replacement fret wire.

2) And does the height of the frets dictate the action?

3) Also, since we don't have crowning files yet, we have the frets flat on the top, will that cause any problems down the line like buzzing or rattling?

Much appreciated in advance.

Dave Higham
06-10-2010, 11:09 PM
The ideal situation is not having to level the frets. Some luthiers manage this by getting the fretboard perfectly level and pressing (not hammering) the frets in.

When you level the frets you only take enough off so that your file (or whatever you're using to level them) touches every one. Agood way is to colour the tops of the frets with magic marker and stop when you see a shiny line on the top of each one. You should have at least one fret with just a thin witness line where the file touched it.

The only thing dictated by the height of the frets is the depth of the nut slots.

If you do have some frets with wide flats after levelling they should really be crowned. If yout fingerboard is flat you can do this fairly easily with a flat file, but do mask the finger board to avoid marking it when crowning. You can use the magic marker again but this time filing until a thin coloured line remains in the centre of the fret.

Kekani
06-10-2010, 11:25 PM
There's a reason why Dan Erlewine wrote a whole book on this subject.

fa'a Junior
06-11-2010, 11:22 AM
The ideal situation is not having to level the frets. Some luthiers manage this by getting the fretboard perfectly level and pressing (not hammering) the frets in.

When you level the frets you only take enough off so that your file (or whatever you're using to level them) touches every one. Agood way is to colour the tops of the frets with magic marker and stop when you see a shiny line on the top of each one. You should have at least one fret with just a thin witness line where the file touched it.

That is a good idea to mark the tops. I see know that there is a press system, unfortunately we used a regular hammer with marred the frets up and needs leveling.


There's a reason why Dan Erlewine wrote a whole book on this subject.

LOL, maybe in the future I will start to read the book, right now its just a trial and error build.

Allen
06-11-2010, 10:44 PM
A really good fret job is something that takes an awful lot of skill and experience to pull off time and again. As has been said, you will want to recrown the frets to their original profile or close to it. You can do this with dedicated fret files but other luthiers that I know have made their own "safe" files from standard hardware store files and sanding the edges smooth so they wont mare the fret board. Then carefully reshape the crown. These particular luthiers still do it this way, as it's the way they learnt 30 - 40 years ago when you couldn't get the specialised tools you can today.

As for action, it's not set by the height of the frets though there is a very small effect on it by their height, but instead firstly by the neck angle. Most ukes don't have a set to the neck and are flat, so your next step is to set the string height at the nut.

Fret the string at the 3rd fret and you should just barely be able to see some space under the string at the 1st fret. Then you go to the saddle and adjust the height here until you get the action that suits your preferred strings and playing style.

To be safe you can sneak up to both of these adjustments, as it's easy for beginners to over shoot them and need to make new nuts and saddles.

Kaneohe til the end
06-12-2010, 07:36 PM
boy am i glad we use a hydraulic press.