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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Has anyone gotten in to doing their own fret leveling\ fret dress, etc? I've been throwing around the idea of doing my own work on my guitars such as setups and maybe some more advanced things like nut slots, frets etc.
I spent a lot of money on setups at a place in Kitchener for a few guitars and I'm not really that satisfied. The basic setups and replacing the nut cost in the neighborhood of about $300 with some have said is pretty steep.
I watched a few videos on fret leveling and fret dress and I'm not sure I'd have the patience for what looks to be very monotonous work.
This particular shop I'm talking about does great work on my acoustics (although again on the pricey side with shop rates of $90 an hour) but on my electrics the same level of satisfaction isn't there.
I've got an electric guitar that I'm having a problem with the high e string falling of the edge of the fretboard due to being a bit close and beveled fret edges. Not sure if a fret level and dress would even solve the issue. So I may have to look at fret replacement. And that probably wouldn't be something I want to attempt.
So does anyone have some ideas on what a fret replacement job would entail and would I be able to replace aggressively beveled frets with frets that aren't beveled?
And if I'm looking at replacing them is it worth it to just go with stainless steel and how much extra would that cost? My neck is a maple and I don't care about the finish on the fretboard. If it was down next to nothing would be better so a refinish for me probably wouldn't be needed.
I don't want to replace the neck #1 I want the original logo on the headstock, #2 I like the neck profile on it.
 

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There is a great post/thread out there by Ron Kirn ‘fret leveling your Tele’. Ron really makes it seem straightforward. I haven’t actually done it yet, but gathering up the stuff now. And it’s not just for Teles!!

PS $300 sounds very expensive for the work. All the best!
 

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Hmm, if the high E is close to the edge of the fretboard, and assuming the guitar has a bolt-on neck, first thing I'd do is loosen the neck screws slightly while at pitch and see if you can slightly tweak the neck alignment. A minuscule amount of movement at the neck heel will have significant effect at the nut, and thus the string positioning. I've had to do this more than once and each time it made a big difference.
 

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$300 seems very steep. If you're in Kitchener Bob's Guitar Service charges $75 for complete set up and around $100 for a new nut. Top notch work.
 

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is it worse by the nut, or by the body?

you may just need a new nut cut, or just slide the nut towards the bass side & reglue?

agree with trying to adjust the neck too, if possible...but that may only be effective if it's sliding off by the body

FYI I practiced fret levelling on a POS acoustic I dug out of the garbage

used Dan Erlewine's excellent book " how to make your guitar play great" as reference

since then I have done a couple other POS guitars, and finally my MIM tele which was pretty trashed when I bought it, used

buying a decent set of fret tools is a good idea; the stew mac ones work really well for me
 

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I polish my frets and have filed the fret ends on a few guitars but to actually do the leveling... Well, it's a fussy thing and I'd be game on a cheap guitar, but almost everything I've got now is worth too much for me to risk learning on. But this is your decision, not mine.

My only useful comment here might be that I took a guitar to Ian Weston here in Ottawa for a PLEK job and the result was unbelievable. The guitar I brought him needed a fret leveling, not because of wear, but it either wasn't right to start with or someone had done a poor job in the past on it. I do my own setups otherwise, but I could never get this guitar right; when I straightened the neck to where I liked it, I couldn't get rid of the buzz on the high frets & when I put some relief back in the neck, I couldn't get the action low enough. I agonized over what to do for about 6 months before taking it to Ian. Left it with him, he ran it through his PLEK machine, I picked it up, and it has been perfect ever since. Also, every Gibson that I own (except my '62 Melody Maker) has had a PLEK factory setup, which has also been perfect. I know there may be some controversy about the factory Gibson PLEK jobs, but my experience has been 100% with mine. So, in a long winded way, my recco if you don't take the leap to doing the fret work yourself, is to consider looking for a luthier with a PLEK machine to do the nut/fret work.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hmm, if the high E is close to the edge of the fretboard, and assuming the guitar has a bolt-on neck, first thing I'd do is loosen the neck screws slightly while at pitch and see if you can slightly tweak the neck alignment. A minuscule amount of movement at the neck heel will have significant effect at the nut, and thus the string positioning. I've had to do this more than once and each time it made a big difference.
I've measured spacing at the nut, 3rd fret and 12th. Its definitely straight. If I tried to tweak to give the high more room the low e will become a problem. The nut was already replaced and supposedly spacing was narrowed and its slightly narrower than the spacing on my other tele. I wouldn't want it any narrower as it already feels a tad tight for space. When the spacing was made more narrow at the nut it did help as the low e o longer gets pushed off and the high e is better but still not what I need it to be. I think a refret may be my only choice.
 

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I've seen fret ends that have been over-beveled creating the situation that you describe. The suggestions above about "stealing" some room at the higher register close to the body by shifting the neck are valid. Most players don't visit the higher register on the bass side so it makes good sense be more generous on the treble side if necessary. The best fix of course is a re-fret. In consideration of taking this on yourself, if you are generally good with your hands (as your playing suggests) it is not that terribly difficult. However, I would offer that a maple fretboard is not the best candidate to learn on (nor one of your favorite guitars). Further, if you are only intending to do a few, the cost of the "right" tools don't make economic sense over paying to have the work done. Folks might think that a fret level, re-crown and polish is expensive at say $75, but the investment in tools and time it takes to do it right generally justify the cost of having it done for you.
If you own several guitars that occasionally need a fret dress and setup or if you intend to extend your services to others, it's not hard to justify the cost of the right tools. Some will argue that you don't need Stew Mac quality stuff but I can attest that it can make for a better overall job and the right tools can save a lot of time.
The same logic applies to making your own nuts. The right files aren't cheap and neither are bone blanks and I've ruined my share but with some practice and common sense...
In your case, the same tools work on both your acoustics and electrics for the most part so I would say go for it. I did a quick (StewMac) assessment of what I would buy if starting out today based on what I've acquired in the past, what is good, what isn't, what gets used, what doesn't, what I couldn't live without etc. and it comes to under $500 US. This doesn't get you into nut making or re-fret territory but is pretty much everything you would need for good basic set-ups.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've seen fret ends that have been over-beveled creating the situation that you describe. The suggestions above about "stealing" some room at the higher register close to the body by shifting the neck are valid. Most players don't visit the higher register on the bass side so it makes good sense be more generous on the treble side if necessary. The best fix of course is a re-fret. In consideration of taking this on yourself, if you are generally good with your hands (as your playing suggests) it is not that terribly difficult. However, I would offer that a maple fretboard is not the best candidate to learn on (nor one of your favorite guitars). Further, if you are only intending to do a few, the cost of the "right" tools don't make economic sense over paying to have the work done. Folks might think that a fret level, re-crown and polish is expensive at say $75, but the investment in tools and time it takes to do it right generally justify the cost of having it done for you.
If you own several guitars that occasionally need a fret dress and setup or if you intend to extend your services to others, it's not hard to justify the cost of the right tools. Some will argue that you don't need Stew Mac quality stuff but I can attest that it can make for a better overall job and the right tools can save a lot of time.
The same logic applies to making your own nuts. The right files aren't cheap and neither are bone blanks and I've ruined my share but with some practice and common sense...
In your case, the same tools work on both your acoustics and electrics for the most part so I would say go for it. I did a quick (StewMac) assessment of what I would buy if starting out today based on what I've acquired in the past, what is good, what isn't, what gets used, what doesn't, what I couldn't live without etc. and it comes to under $500 US. This doesn't get you into nut making or re-fret territory but is pretty much everything you would need for good basic set-ups.
Thanks for the advice. I'll be getting someone to refret my guitar for me. I was just wondering what it might take to be able to someday take these kinds of things on my self. I did watch some youtube vids that were quite informative but I don't think I'd have the patience my self. I think that one thing I'd like to master is just basic setups. Setting intonation, raising\lowering saddles, neck relief and maybe some nut modification such as lowering the slots. Not necessarily starting from a blank nut.
 
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