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Thread: How To File A Fret

  1. #1
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
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    Default How To File A Fret

    Hello!

    I have a 35-year-old Kentucky KM-200S. It was my first mandolin before I took a brief (30 year) hiatus from the instrument. It's developed quite a bow over the years (no truss rod) from sitting under full tension in the attic. But it still plays ok so I'm using it as my "beater."

    Because of the bow, when playing the E course (and only the E course) at the 11th fret, the strings ring at the 12th fret. I assume I need to file down the 12th fret a bit if I ever want to play that D# at the 11th fret (and I do love D#. Especially since I cannot play it on this mandolin at the 11th fret!)

    Rob Meldrum's delightful ebook does not discuss filing frets and I have no idea what is involved. I certainly don't want to invest much money in this mando.

    What can I do to lower a fret and not destroy my beater?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    Sounds like you have the right idea. Just need to remove a little bit. I would mark the fret with a Sharpie just under the E strings. I leave it strung up and in tune. Take an emory board that are used for fingernails and give it a couple strokes just under the E strings on that fret. Wipe away your dust and test. Take your time. Go slow and repeat. When it rings clear, stop. IT IS EASY TO REMOVE TOO MUCH. Ask me how I know that......

    Another advantage of the emory board is that if you are working on one of the "inside" strings, you can bend the emory board and just go under those strings.

    Good luck!

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  4. #3
    Registered User Greg Mirken's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    First make sure the 12th fret isn't loose. Tap on it with a small metal object. The frets should all make a clear "tink". If 12, especially at the end, makes a hollow "tunk" it's loose, and shouldn't be filed until it is held down and glued with a drop of thin CA. I bet that solves your issue without filing.
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  6. #4
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    Does the neck have a truss rod? May want to check that too.

    And actually, since the issue appears to be around fret 12, there's something else that might also be happening and it's a little more nefarious. With 30 years of string tension, the heel joint may be weakened and the neck may be tilting, causing a V to occur in the fingerboard at the frets that lie over the area where the heel meets the body (frets 12, 13, 14, 15, etc.). If that's the case, no filing of frets will correct this, the heel joint needs to be repaired...

    If this V thing is happening, it can be identified with a straight edge running from the nut to the end of the fingerboard; look for exaggerated relief around the area of the heel joint
    -- Don

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  8. #5
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Sounds like you have the right idea. Just need to remove a little bit. I would mark the fret with a Sharpie just under the E strings. I leave it strung up and in tune. Take an emory board that are used for fingernails and give it a couple strokes just under the E strings on that fret. Wipe away your dust and test. Take your time. Go slow and repeat. When it rings clear, stop. IT IS EASY TO REMOVE TOO MUCH. Ask me how I know that......

    Another advantage of the emory board is that if you are working on one of the "inside" strings, you can bend the emory board and just go under those strings.

    Good luck!
    Oooo! This is a great idea! Thank you! I'll give that a shot!

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    Greg Mirken is probably right on this. Check the most obvious and easiest things first. This is where a fret rocker comes in handy, it's just a straight edge with several lengths or flats that span 3 frets at a time. The shorter flats are for the higher (closer together) frets. StewMac sells a dandy one, or you CAN make one yourself if you can make true flat sections. Just look in the Stew/Mac catalog to get the idea. Theirs is a great tool.

    The point is to check every 3 frets, if the rocker rocks the middle fret is high. If it doesn't rock just move up to the next fret, then the next fret, and so on. This will show whether the frets are even or not but will not show bow in the neck. You need a longer straight edge for that.

  11. #7

    Default Re: How To File A Fret

    All good ideas thanks.
    Thread for Rob’s book: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ighlight=ebook
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