Fret Dress a Guitar: The 101 on Leveling Guitar Frets

‘Fret dress’ speaks of the process for leveling and reshaping guitar frets. Over continued use of the guitar, the guitar strings tend to wear out the fret since the strings are manufactured from a more rigid metal in comparison to the frets. The strings tend to leave divots where they frequently come in contact in the frets. For this reason, guitarists must learn how to level guitar frets and also be equipped to adequately fret dress the repair to smooth out the divots. The fret may need to be crowned or re-rounded following this procedure.

Here’s the list of specialized tools required for fret dressing a guitar:

1. Leveling Beam

A fret leveling beam is used to sand out the frets evenly. It’s a tubular bar with the machined end attached to sandpaper for leveling accurately.

2. Straight Edge

A straight edge helps identify the frets which aren’t level. It also acts as an add-on to the leveling beam as it guides you on whether the leveling beam could attain an equal level.

3. Fret Rocker

To check if every single fret is even or not, you need a fret rocker tool. It allows you to focus on 3 to 5 problematic fret areas that could otherwise not be achieved with a straight edge.

4. Fret Crowning File

After all the leveling has been done, you’ll need to crown each of the now flat frets into round ones. Although this step is doable with standard filers, a fret crown file attains better-rounded results.

5. Fret Bevel File

This tool is used for filing to establish a sharp 45-degree angle toward the bottom of each fret. Thanks to this angle, our fingers don’t end up sticking to the fret while playing.

6. Fret Files

Now that you have leveled the fret edges file the burrs on the fret ends so no sharp edges poke your fingers and cause them to bleed.

That’s all for the tools you need to fret dress your guitar, but you might have to change your technique depending upon the material of the fretboard.

Fret Dress A Rosewood Or Ebony Fretboard

Prepare the fret and fretboard by covering the magnetic pickups, checking for loose fret ends, and adjusting the truss rod to straighten the guitar’s neck. Fasten the guitar securely before leveling. Additionally, you may use a marker to mark the tops of the frets to be worked on. Next, begin leveling the frets and ensure all get equal attention. Afterward, you can crown the frets with a crowning file until it appears as a uniform and perfectly rounded top. Subsequently, sand the frets using sandpaper and polish the frets. Lastly, you clean the fretboard and frets with some soap.

Fret Dress A Maple Fretboard

You may utilize the steps mentioned above to fret dress your guitar manufactured with maple fretboard but be mindful not to use any marker as they stain the maple and not clean the fretboard with oil-based soap.

Welcome to Rock Guitars International. I’m Eddie A, a guitar luthier from California. I’m passionate about designing and manufacturing high-performance guitars with custom rocky finishes. All the guitars are handcrafted and undergo an extensive eight-step process for quality fretwork. Buy custom Rock Guitars online.