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Thread: Polishing Frets

  1. #1

    Question Polishing Frets

    I'm GreenMountainBob and this is my first post to this forum, so please give me a break if I screw something up.
    Can anyone give me good advice on polishing frets on a guitar.
    I own a Martin JC-16 RGTE Premium and bought it new several years back from the local Martin dealer. Anyway, it has a micarta fretboard, which is of course extremely hard and seem to never wear from normal use.
    As you might know, micarta boards do not "give" as wood fretboards will. I've already had the frets leveled twice on the guitar because of wear (I admit that I do fret hard) and the last time the Martin certified repairman said if the frets need work again in the future, he will have to replace all the frets. I use a range of .10, .11, .12, and have even used .13 a time or two. Right now, I'm using .11 light bronze phosphorous.
    Which leads me back to my original question. I was recently watching a guy on a You Tube Channel (Rosa Strings) who demonstrated how to polish frets without damaging the fretboard. But either I missed it or he did not say what he uses to polish worn or discolored frets after cleaning the fretboard on the guitars he services. The frets after he polished them glistened they were so bright.
    Does anyone have a suggestion as to what to use to polish frets after cleaning the fretboard? Thanks for advice.
    Second question, would anyone recommend using lemon oil to clean the micarte fretboard? And wipe it clean right after application?
    Bob

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    Why ? I have a friend who has enough hand tools that the cost could buy two Gilchrist mandolins ! He doesn't really use them but every week he polishes them with car polish ! I guess I've never thought about polishing frets ! Maybe I should !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  3. #3
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Exclamation Re: Polishing Frets

    Stew Mac is all over fretting & Service Tools . check them out ....





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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    I don't polish my frets, I wipe down the fretboard with a slightly damp rag when I change strings (remove residual finger sweat/dust) but do not polish anything.

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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    You shouldn't ahve to do this more than once every couple years or so, but make a fingerboard guard like this out of a stiff plastic like mmilk carton and go to town with steel wool or 800 grit sand paper, just keep steel steel wool away from any magnets

    https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tool...rd_Guards.html
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    A woman’s nail board the finest side. I worked at micro surface finishing, the people that make
    Micro mesh, and the fine side of the nail buffs was their 12000 grit micro mesh.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  8. #7
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    On ebony or rosewood (and likely black micarta as well) boards you don't need any fancy tooling. Just have a look at Frank Fords frets.com for some old school refretting techniques that include final polishing of frets. Lots to learn there.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    https://www.amazon.com/Gorgomyte-Fin...s%2C153&sr=8-1

    I use this every time I change strings on all my fretted instruments.

    The frets shine and the rosewood looks beautiful.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    Yes Stewart MacDonald will have every tool you can imagine for polishing and re-crowning worn frets. If you have had your frets worked down twice it is time for a re-fret. Choose EVO alloy fret wire for your re-fret. It is a tougher wire and will last longer. I learned this through having to have my mandolins re-fretted every couple of years until I had EVO wire put on my most recent mandolin acquisition … three years in now and no wear. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  11. #10

    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    +1 on the EVO gold wire when you refret. I'm 3 years in on two mandos, an acoustic and an electric with no visible wear. In the mean time, for polishing I use a dremel with the little felt wheels, they're available dirt cheap on Amazon. I use jeweler's rouge for polish because I have an old stick of it, but there are plenty buffing compounds available out there. To protect the fretboard, it's easiest to get one of the thin SS shields with a slot cut in it.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    When I think of fret polishing it's in the context of the final step of leveling,crowning,and polishing. Lots of
    handwork.

    I have paid good money to have my frets leveled and the repairperson neglected the crowning and polishing
    steps. I won't name names here on the forum,but a person well known in the mandolin world.

    Otherwise,just keeping the fretboard wiped down seems sufficient for me.

    The Gorgomyte looks interesting for keeping things really clean.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Polishing Frets

    Quote Originally Posted by GreenMountainBob View Post
    I'm GreenMountainBob
    Hi Bob. I'm new here too. Good to meet you.

    I was recently watching a guy on a You Tube Channel (Rosa Strings) who demonstrated how to polish frets without damaging the fretboard. But either I missed it or he did not say what he uses to polish worn or discolored frets after cleaning the fretboard on the guitars he services. The frets after he polished them glistened they were so bright.
    Does anyone have a suggestion as to what to use to polish frets after cleaning the fretboard? Thanks for advice.
    Second question, would anyone recommend using lemon oil to clean the micarte fretboard? And wipe it clean right after application?
    Bob
    I've watched a number of Mr. Rosa's videos and he tends to use Simichrome polish (I think it has something like a 9 micron grit.) I've purchased some, but I can't say whether it works better than the Flitz I've been using (3 micron grit, I think?) I'd imagine that the latter would be even more gentle on frets and it's what I've used with great success on a number of vintage guitars I've recently worked on to conserve. I'm very careful to fully mask each fret with low-tack tape (painter's tape) to protect the fingerboard wood underneath. I'm also careful to use only the smallest dab to further keep it from leaching down to the board should I get it between the tape and the fret. I use tape because, to my eye, it seems to have a tighter seal than the metal Stewmac-type fingerboard guards.

    Seems I've seen tons of back and forth from folks about lemon oil pros and cons. Mr. Rosa uses Linseed oil. I use Music Nomad fretboard oil cleaner/conditioner. It smells like it has lemon oil in it and I use only the tiniest little bit. I'd acquired a Regal parlor guitar I'll have to do some work on to fill cracks in the fingerboard. The fingerboard was VERY dry, but the few frets I tried the Nomad on seemed to hydrate well. It's currently my 'test' for this exact purpose versus the linseed oil.

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