Frets will determine how well your guitar plays. However, fret wears sometimes happen. Fret wear is a normal by-product of playing an instrument. As a guitarist, knowing how to evaluate fret damage and understand what options you have to make it corrected is important. Every time you press the strings of your guitar against the frets, its shape will change causing them to wear out and begging for refrets.
Refretting a guitar is a huge duty. You have to perform tons of steps and small details must be considered. Guitar refretting can be a challenge. It’s not something that can be learned in any academic way but it’s a hands-on job. The only way to learn the undertaking responsibility is to actually do it, again and again.
In order to do a simple or professional refret, certain tools are required. So, here is how to refret a guitar. Keep in mind that it is a step by step process. It is not a definitive or all-inclusive by any means.
Basic Tools You Need
- Pliers (Fret Puller, flush cut)
- Truss Rod wrench
- Super glue
- Polishing flap wheel
- Steel wool
- Bastard File
Guitar Refretting Procedure
Take careful measurements. You can do measuring the action, relief, bridge radius and others. This will help you prevent further adjustments.
Remove the string. Take the neck off the body and pull the frets very carefully. You can adjust the truss rod for the neck. Put some oil on the board and heat the frets to help them come out easier.
When the frets are out, hit the board with a file and remove all the nubs created after the frets were pulled. Put in the neck on a proxy body for easy truss rod access.
Fasten the guitar into the neck jig and make adjustments to make it a dead straight as possible. When done, set all the dial indicators probably in the level of zero.
Remove the strings, raise the neck back up to zero points (dial indicators) and level the fingerboard. To do this with ease, you should rotate your guitar in working position.
Be ready for the leveling process. Make the radius of the fingerboard corrected and ensure that it is measured correctly.
Wipe some sandpaper on the fingerboard edges and a file. Don’t forget to remove the neck and perform the following:
Prep the fret slots.
File the edges softly.
Remove and clean out all the gunks.
Cut a section of fret wire. Bend it to match the radius of the fingerboard you’ve measured. Cut sections of fret wire intended for each fret slot. Press and hammer in the frets.
Wax the board next to each fret but keep the superglue from soaking into the fingerboard. You can avoid this by wick some water under the frets.
Trim the fret ends close to the fingerboard edge then file the fret ends flush with the fingerboard. Bevel them right after.
Cut any leftover metal from the fret by using a tiny chisel. Skipping this step will result in sharp and uncomfortable fret ends. With a file, make round the bottom corners of the frets. Polish the fret ends beautifully through the use of sandpaper wrapped around a file.
This time, install the neck back on the surrogate body, string the neck up and place it back on the jig. Ensure that the newly installed frets are leveled.
Roll the frets back to round and use a diamond coated fret file. This may be an expensive kind but really worth it yet you can still look for any alternatives. Round off the edges or the top of the fret ends with a file for a gorgeous look.
Wipe out all the scratches in the frets. You can do this with ease by using a polishing flap wheel. The result? Gleaming frets. Clean up any superglue or any wax that the flap wheel can’t reach.
Steel wool the frets and fingerboard. Then make the frets more polished with a buffing wheel and compound. If you’re done, you can now use your gorgeous guitar, well-polished and well-refretted.