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Frets and Fingerboard Care

Frets and Fingerboard Care

by Randy Stockwell

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly Volume 7, #2, 1979 and Lutherie Woods and Steel String Guitars, 1998

Neck Shapes. I credit Leo Bidne for his perceptions of the relationship between the fingerboard bow and the string’s motion. I use heat treatment to obtain these results when the problems are severe enough. But I find that most instruments, while needing some neck curve help, are not in serious enough trouble to merit the use of heat. Most can be put in the proper curvature through careful and diligent fret dressing and tension rod adjustment (granted sufficient fret height to begin with).

When the frets are too low or the curve too great, refretting is usually called for anyway. The fingerboard itself can then be reshaped to the suitable curves. Of course, if the fault is bad enough to call for a major removal of wood, I definitely resort to heat, neck resets, major neck rebuilding, and so on. Even after heat treatment, I find it necessary to finish with fingerboard and/or fret-dressing procedures.

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