Warmoth Custom Guitar Parts - Fret Work

Guitar & Bass Neck Fret Work

The fretting process at Warmoth is rather unique. Shipping unfinished necks to the distant corners of the world presented a challenge as wood moves with the changes in temperature and humidity. To preclude raised or popped frets we developed our unique process for gluing the frets in. Using a special pump we force gel type cyanoacrylate glue in to the fret slots. The fret is then pressed in through the glue, securely anchoring the wire in the slot. The glue back fills the walls of the fret slot where the barbs of the fret tang have been forced down. This technique keeps the frets firmly locked in the slots. Essentially this is a hybrid compression and glued fretting technique. The end result is a very stable and durable fret job. Should a refret ever be necessary, the frets have a release agent on them and can be extracted.

Fret edges are back-beveled to about 30°. By special request we can leave this edge square.
Fret Dressing

There are several terms used for this process; Fret Mill, Grind and Polish, Fret Level, Crowning, etc. They all refer to the same basic process of precision aligning the tops of the frets in a uniform plane. Seating the frets in a piece of wood is a difficult process to accomplish with extreme precision. There are usually slight variations in this work and it's further complicated by the fact that the neck woods seldom respond uniformly to string tension. Therefore, a fret leveling operation performed on a raw neck is likely to require further attention after the instrument has been assembled.

It's an accepted fact that final leveling and instrument set-up are best done after the guitar has been strung up to pitch for several days and the neck has time to settle in to the tension of the strings. Then, if needed, the frets may be leveled under tension to provide the finest action. After the frets are leveled then they are individually recrowned to restore their rounded shape.

Most Warmoth necks do not require a fret leveling; they are good to go as they are received. Of course, if you want really low action or a specific feel, an overall setup and level may be necessary. This is highly skilled work and the associated costs can be relatively high, as one might expect for professional services.

As a final note on the subject, maple necks require a finish to preclude neck warpage. The finish is sprayed directly over the frets. It is a tedious task to remove the finish and in many production guitars, it is simply left on them to wear off in use…A fret leveling operation will take this off or the finish may be scraped off each individual fret. Warmoth does not offer either fret leveling or paint removal services.

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