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Thread: Flat fret crown normal?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Southwest Ohio


    Hi, all,

    I have a 1995 Flatiron F5 that is in need of a partial refret (first seven frets).

    Looking at the original frets I notice that they were crowned fairly flat. The fretwire is the thin "vintage" size, and if you look at the frets from the side the fret tops are essentially flat, rather than the nice, rounded profile I'm used to seeing on my guitars and Sobell mandolin.

    Is this flat fret crown normal or typical?

    I have always had a bit of a problem when playing this mandolin beacause I get fret buzz if I don't fret the strings firmly enough, or if I fret too far behind the frets (mainly on the E and A strings).

    Would a more rounded fret profile help with this? If so, why are the frets crowned flat in the first place?

    Thanks for any comments, insight or suggestions!


  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    After frets are installed, they need to be leveled. We do that by milling the tops level and straight with a file or sanding block. That leaves flats on the tops of the frets. The next step is to re-crown the frets with some sort of file (different people use different files), then polish the frets smooth.
    Some folks basically skip the re-crowning step and simply sand the leveled frets with fine sandpaper to soften the edges of the flats. The result is frets with flat tops like you describe.

    Well crowned fret are easier to play for several reasons, and the problems you're having would be helped by better fret work.

  3. #3
    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Santa Cruz, California


    To add just a bit of detail, the mandolin did not come from Flatiron with flat-topped frets. Someone since it left Bozeman did that. The harder you grip, the faster you wear frets out. I hope you'll consider a full refret with more substantial wire (such as Stefan Sobell uses!), rather than just crowning ones that are pretty much done for.

    º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º
    Paul Hostetter, luthier
    Santa Cruz, California

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