Essential Fretting Tool Kit

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Dan Erlewine shows what's in the kit and what each tool is for.

Video Transcription

[on screen text reads: Essential Fretting Tool Kit]

Dan Erlewine: Here's the Essential Fretting Kit. With these tools, I could fret a guitar anywhere, even in my backyard. As a bonus, we include the fret workbook at no charge to help you with your fret work. The first tool I want to show you is the Fret Cutter.

The Fret Cutter

We grind the cutter smooth on the face so it's a flush cut with no marring. You're going to use the cutters to cut the fret tang overhang, if you're doing a bound fingerboard, you cut a notch in it and clean it up with your little Fret End Dressing File. I use the cutters to bend fret wire with. They're already in my hand, then you just grab the tang and move along the wire. We use the fret cutters to cut the overhang when you put a fret in. You can even pull frets with the fret cutter, nipping underneath it, holding the board down while you pull up the fret.

The Fretting Hammer

The Fretting Hammer is the right weight-feel in size for driving in frets. You have a domed-brass-face and a plastic face. I use the brass side to drive the frets in, starting on the ends and tapping all the way across and I'll use the plastic face for the final seating.

The Fret Leveler

The Fret Leveler is a smooth-mill file with a long angled cut so that it doesn't chatter. I'll use it on the fret board wood after I've removed frets to knock down any high edges of the fret slot or on pearls to level them without scratching.

Of course, the fret leveler is used to level frets, that's where it gets its name. It'll take down any high spots without leaving more scratches than you can remove easily with final polishing and sanding. It's also a fret-beveler. And this is where the long angle comes in handy, because it doesn't tend to jump up. If you have a shorter angle, that file will jump up and scar the frats.

The Fret-End Dressing File and Stick

Once you've leveled the tops of the frats and beveled their ends, come in with the Fret-end Dressing File. It's got a sharp edge and a rounded, safe edge. The sharp edge will pick off a bur left by the nippers and the beveling. The rounded edge is for shaping the end to a nice-rounded crown. If you've leveled the tops very much, you're going to want to re-round it. That's what a rounding file is for. It has concave teeth, shaped like a fret, wide and medium, for most common fret sizes, and it'll bring a fret to a round in a real hurry. You can remove any scratches then with the Fret-end Dressing Stick, it's a little sanding belt on a spring-loaded holder.

The Fret Rocker

Here's the Fret Rocker. It finds a high fret. It has four edges of different lengths so that it'll sit on any three frets of a guitar or bass, any place on the fret board. They're machine ground, so they're accurate. And you just work your way down the board looking for a rock. There's a rock, that's a high fret. It doesn't mean it will rock on every part of that fret. Just right there. I'd come in there with my fret-leveling file and spot-file that high spot off. That's the essential fretting kit. Good luck with your fret work.



Dan Erlewine

Guitar Repairman and Builder

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