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Thread: Sharp fret ends

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Default Sharp fret ends

    I bought a cheap uke and it's great but the fret ends are not finished well and are quite sharp. What is the best way to smooth them a bit without damaging the fretboard?

  2. #2
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    Apr 2016
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    the we(s)t coast, Canada
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    I had a similar experience with a cheap Uke-bass. I ordered some cheap fret files off Amazon and used painters masking tape around the frets to protect the fret board. There are some good YouTube videos on how to file them. The fret files I got seemed pretty terrible, but they did the job. I'd love to try a proper set of fret files, but can't really justify it for a one-off project.
    Glenn

  3. #3
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    Mar 2015
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    If you mean the ends are sticking out past the fretboard as in sprout, I like this procedure I picked up a while back on youtube:
    Put masking tape down the side of the fingerboard. Then slide your file or even just sandpaper over it. The sharp frets will star to stick through the masking tape and you can continue to sand until it is smooth. Even a fine 600 grit sandpaper can do a lot. I now have a fret file from CB Gitty for this work. It's about 220 grit I think...so great for fret sprout...but you have to work up to finer and then polish eventually. It's important to round over the ends too for even smoother playability. I also recommend browsing youtube, etc. for ideas. There are several ways of doing things and one method might appeal to you more than others. I usually end up using a combination of tips to form my own way of doing things.

    I also have a couple of extra, proper fretting files, but find sandpaper can work just as well for some of the tasks...except for crowning..It'd be hard to crown a fret with just sandpaper.
    Last edited by jer; 03-02-2020 at 02:00 PM.

  4. #4
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    It always amazes me when I have a problem, a thread comes on exactly about my problem. This afternoon I brought one of my solid body bass ukes to rehearsal and when I took it out to tune, I found the fret ends sprouted. I read this thread and realize I have a $20 credit at stewmac.com, so I found a fret sprout file for $15, with shipping and tax I paid $6.85. I'm a happy camper.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 6 acoustic bass ukes, 12 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 41)

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  5. #5
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    Dec 2010
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    I use a flexible carborundum nail file... one of my wifes’

  6. #6
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    Apr 2019
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    San Francsico Bay Area
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    Default

    A local luthier advised me to try using a nail file when I had a similar issue. It worked, slow, deliberate, careful.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2014
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    Raleigh, NC
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    In one of his videos, Aaron Keim shows a trick he learned from Gordon Mayer when Gordon ran Mya Moe: Use a nail block file.

    https://www.thegearpage.net/board/in...osts/28422005/
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  8. #8
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    Aug 2016
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    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
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    Default

    If you only have a tiny bit of sprout a nail block file is a great way to tackle this job. But if the fret ends are really bad and sticking out a lot, even Stew Mac's fret end dressing file won't do the job (at least not in a reasonable time). In that case you really need to use a rigid file of some type along the edge of the fretboard, at a right angle, to file down the fret ends even with the wood, and stop just as the file comes into contact with the finish.

    https://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Onlin...y_weather.html

    People usually freak out at this suggestion, think for sure that they will ruin the neck. But it's easy to feel the resistance of the metal fret ends, and you can readily tell when the file comes into contact with the finish. Only then does it make sense to get out the fret end dressing file or the nail block.
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  9. #9
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    Aug 2017
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    Before attacking the uke with files, try sealing it in a plastic bag with a damp kitchen sponge for a week or so. Once it’s humidified properly, you might very well find you don’t need to dress the frets at all.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    Before attacking the uke with files, try sealing it in a plastic bag with a damp kitchen sponge for a week or so. Once it’s humidified properly, you might very well find you don’t need to dress the frets at all.
    Excellent suggestion - IF you change your ways and start to humidify religiously. Otherwise you'll be back where you started in a few weeks. The good news is that dressing the fret ends isn't going to hurt anything if the neck later swells a bit.
    Blackbird Farallon Ekoa Tenor
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