Stewart-MacDonaldEverything for building and repairing stringed instruments!
Your order cart Your order | Account | Saved list
Sign in
Email
800-848-2273, 9AM-6PM EST, M-F
Home Free catalog Quick order International Customer service

Home : Trade Secrets Archive : Issue 43, Super glue your frets for better tone!
Trade Secrets NEWSLETTER
Email a friend









 Processing...






photo: gluing a fret
Surprise tone tip

Super glue your frets
to improve your tone!

Before working on those frets, make sure they’re sitting solidly in their slots. (Try this tone test too!)

Erick Coleman signature Erick Coleman, September 6, 2007
Photo: Erick Coleman
illustration: slot too deep Factory fret jobs are often too loose.
The fix is easy, with a nice payoff in tone.




Super Glue
illustration: slot too deep

photo: Neck Jig
Most guitars needing fret work still have their original frets. When I get ’em into the neck jig, I find that those frets were pressed in at the factory, without any adhesive to hold them down.

This no-glue technique is good if the frets and slots are perfectly paired, but often the slots are too big: lots of air and not much coupling. The frets are only held in by their barbs. This leads to fret troubles, and it saps the guitar’s tone.

Here how to get these frets to sit tight and sound right:
photo: Fret Rocker
1. I’ll jig the guitar and use a Fret Rocker to seek out any proud frets (frets that sit up a little higher than their neighbors). They cause buzzes and trouble, but the Fret Rocker makes them easy to identify.

Fret Rocker
photo: Jaws Handheld Fret Press
2. When I find these proud frets, I press ‘em right back down into their slots where they belong. Jaws is the tool I use for this.

Jaws Handheld Fret Press

3. To prep for gluing, I wipe paste wax onto the wooden fingerboard with a Q-tip. While the glue's wet, the excess will wipe right off the waxed wood with a paper towel. Move fast to remove the excess — this is super glue we're talking about!

When you're all done with the gluing process, just wipe away any leftover wax.

4. Okay, time for the glue.
Use a pipette to run a thin bead of glue down the length of the fret. “Wicking” action will suck it right down into the slot. Sometimes I actually see it come up from below on the other side of the fret! Quickly wipe the fret clean with a paper towel and hit it with a drop or two of accelerator.

Super Glue Accelerator
Try this yourself: Glue a fret or two, then tap a bone nut blank on one of them. Listen to the sound. Now tap an unglued fret. The glued frets create a fuller sound that actually vibrates through the neck. You can see how this translates to better overall tone.

Vintage Bone Nuts



5. Done, and ready to finish the fret job! With all the frets glued, this guitar is now ready for me to level the tops of the frets.

If you need to remove these super-glued frets later, that's easy: heat them with a soldering iron, and the glue will release them. (Use good ventilation, so you don't breath any fumes from the heated cyanoacrylate glue.)

Erick Coleman signature

Fret Leveler

Problem-solving products mentioned above:
Photo: Stewart-MacDonald Super Glues Photo: Stewart-MacDonald Fretwire Photo: Fret Rocker
Stewart-MacDonald Super Glues
Professional instant adhesives for instrument building and repair. Foil-packed for freshness!
Stewart-MacDonald Fretwire
18% nickel silver fretwire available in a wide variety of sizes to suit your needs.
Fret Rocker
Our new 4-in-1 mini straightedge for pinpointing high frets.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now
Photo: Jaws Handheld Fret Press Photo: Erlewine Neck Jig Photo: Essential Fretting Tool Kit
Jaws Handheld Fret Press
This trio works where other fret presses can't. You can feel the fret seating in the slot!
Erlewine Neck Jig
Allows complete control of a neck for the ultimate fret job.
Essential Fretting Tool Kit
The tools you'll need to get started, and our Fret Work book is included FREE.
Buy Now
Buy Now
Buy Now

Toll-free order line:   800-848-2273   9am-6pm Eastern Time, M-F



Your order | Your account | Trade Secrets E-mail Newsletter
Home | Free catalog | Catalog Quick Order | International | Customer service
Our guarantee | Shipping | Security & Privacy | Contact us
Site map | About Us | Employment
© Copyright 2014 Stewart-MacDonald
Your shopping is secure with VeriSign! Trusted Commerce