"Take a little off the sides!" Fretting expert Dan Erlewine designed this ingenious tool. It quickly and precisely files away some (or all) of the fret tang barbs to control fret compression, relieve backbow, and make installing frets easier.
File several feet of fret tang quickly. Simply pull the tang of the fretwire between the Fret Barber's adjustable file jaws as needed for the desired fit.
The Fret Barber lets you "take a little off the sides" to adjust the width of the fret tang by removing metal from the barbs. This way, you can control how much force is needed to press the frets into the slot.
Even when the fret tang matches the width of the slot, the barbs can add enough mass to create more compression than you want. The pressure from this added metal, multiplied by the number of frets, sometimes is enough to force the neck into a back-bow. More often, it simply makes it hard to install the frets — especially with the harder rosewood and ebony fretboards.
By sizing the fret tang, the Fret Barber can also help a back-bowed neck to "relax" into straightness or a controlled relief (slight upbow). The thinner tang allows each fret slot to close just enough to accomplish this.
This ingenious tool, designed by fretting expert Dan Erlewine, comes with a set of 8 gauged shims:
.018", .020", .022", .024", .026", .028", .030", .032" and instructions.
Most guitars have slots of about .018" to .023" — the most common is .022". Fret tangs usually range from .021" to .024", so the tang is already a tight fit even without barbs — add the barbs, and the fit can be too tight.
This tool is for preparing uncut fretwire.
The Fret Barber is included in our money-saving Fret Tang Tool Set along with the Fret Cutter, our specialized tool for resizing a fret's barbed tang for a custom fit.
Works on stainless frets, too! All of our tools are suitable for use on stainless-steel fretwire, with the exception of our Fret Tang Nippers and Fret Cutters. Modern stainless-steel fretwire is known to be harder than the traditional nickel-silver blends, but our own shop experience indicates the wire does not cause premature wear of files or sandpapers.