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Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1478
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 7:43 am:   Edit Post

There is an interesting thread on the subject of protruding frets here. The owner's manual states that on a new instrument you may notice "the first time the humidity takes a big swing that the fret edges may protrude over the edge of the fingerboard. These can be easily filed flush and you will probably only have to do this once. You can get a service sheet from us if you'd like to do this job yourself." Some of the highlights from the thread are as follows.

Danno (dannobasso) wrote that "there are basicly 2 directions to file. One is the side of the fretboard where the fret protrudes. I move the file perpendicular to the fret; a good file will make quick work of it in a few passes. Go lightly at first to test your technique. When you get a tiny bit of ebony dust, check by a feel of your finger. Alembic directs that you do this with the strings off and the neck relieved of tension."

"Next, I follow the curve of the end of the fret and file LIGHTLY from the top of the fret edge over and down to the egde of the fretboard. I experimented with a small round edge needle file for this second pass so I could concentrate on the fret as much as possible and not take that much material from the ebony."

David Fung (dfung60) wrote "Ebony is used in the fingerboard because it's dense, hard, and has a high internal oil content. No matter how long you season/dry the wood before working with it, the act of carving it into your fingerboard exposes a new surface and that new surface will be more subject to shrinkage and environmental sensitivity than the blank it came from. Alembic is careful to properly maintain optimal humidity in their shop but unless you live in Hawaii or the Phillipines, winter for you or I will be much, much drier. That dry environment causes the fingerboard to shrink, exposing the fret ends. The surface of the tangs of the frets keep the fret ends from pulling back in when the humidity increases during the warmer months. So, you really can expect this to be a one-time fix."

"All that said, I would highly recommend you take it to a professional luthier for the fix, despite the good results people report here. First of all, smoothing fret ends will be a no-brainer for anybody qualified. They will have the proper tools and experience. For example, nobody here mentioned masking the fingerboard edges and surface, which I believe would be normal practice for a pro to prevent scratches from stray strokes (hey, you're going to have 48 edges to take down). This is less of a big deal than for fret levelling where the fret tops are in play, but your instrument will allow the rare opportunity for a simple slip to cause literally thousands of dollars of damage - don't let it happen."

Timothy Jenny (drjenny) wrote that Stewart-MacDonald has "a very nice fret end dressing file (US$12.36) and 0.10 inch stainless steel fretboard guards (6 for US$9.25) to protect the ebony while you do it (use them on the fret end while you file). Should make the job safe, easy and cheap."

(Message edited by davehouck on March 14, 2005)

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