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Thread: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

  1. #1
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    Default Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Hi.

    To what extent can a good fret leveling job get you crazy low action?

    I've done fret leveling jobs on two guitars with relative succes, but was not able to get the crazy low action I have on my Korean Michael kelly Patriot Shadow, which simply has a $3000 guitar neck.
    One of the guitars I worked on was also a Michael kelly Patriot (albeit an Indonesian one).

    I'm thinking that the leveling is done when the neck is straight, but I figure restrung, a good neck will make a perfect bow, allowing for very low action, while a lesser neck's bow may not be smooth (a bit bumpy let's say) and 'cause fret buzz anyway?
    Or is it just a matter of inadequate skills?

  2. #2
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Well if the neck is straight
    And the frets are level
    And the nut is cut correctly
    And the neck angle.is good
    And the bridge saddles are just right

    And if with all this
    The neck isn't twisted

    I think you should be able to get it super low

    Its easier to get super low action
    With taller frets
    Or at least that's what my understanding is
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker ICTGoober's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Fret height has nothing to do with low action.

    As for OP, you're probably doing it wrong.

  4. #4
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    Fret height has nothing to do with low action.

    As for OP, you're probably doing it wrong.
    Helpful much

    Thanks Goob
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    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    It has to do with set up and level frets either from a good fret job or a well produced neck maybe run through a fret machine. That's it. "Quality" doesn't really have much to do with it. Almost all production guitars just have the frets installed without a level.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 02-02-2020 at 04:24 PM.
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  6. #6
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Truss rod can correct for most any bow in the neck

    Not a twist

    Bow
    EHD
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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by ehdwuld View Post
    Truss rod can correct for most any bow in the neck

    Not a twist

    Bow
    Unless you have a neck with double truss rods.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Unless you have a neck with double truss rods.
    and that is rare. Very rare. I only know of a few Rickenbackers who do it that way?

  9. #9
    Super Toneologist DavidRavenMoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    I once had a customer with a brand new American Standard Strat. The action was low, but he wanted it lower.

    Leveling the frets helped a lot but he wanted it lower. So I removed the frets and leveled the board and installed new frets.

    It was so low he asked me to raise it!

    But fret leveling helps.


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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by orpheo View Post
    and that is rare. Very rare. I only know of a few Rickenbackers who do it that way?
    Yeah, me too.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by WDeeGee View Post
    a good neck will make a perfect bow, allowing for very low action, while a lesser neck's bow may not be smooth (a bit bumpy let's say) and 'cause fret buzz anyway?
    Or is it just a matter of inadequate skills?
    One will make a pefect bow by itself, another one must be helped. Bumpy fretboards can be sanded to some extent. Bumpy fretwork can be redone. From that point on, it's all a matter of how accurately you can assess the situation and how much skill you have in executing the correction, assuming your judgment was correct in the first place...

    IOW, sanding a badly seated fret sounds like pointless work.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions LLL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Super low action is over-rated.

    Raise the action until each note rings clear and the strings have a little "bounce" to them.
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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    Super low action is over-rated.
    Only if you pound your strings like a 13 year old beginner trying to play metal.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Only if you pound your strings like a 13 year old beginner trying to play metal.
    Higher action (but not too high) makes the strings livelier, facilitates better bending and vibrato, and cleaner notes.

    Besides that, you can pick as "delicately" as you want regardless of how high/low the action is.
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  15. #15
    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    "Higher" only helps if the existing action is so low that the strings are buzzing on the frets. If they're not buzzing, then raising the height of the strings makes no difference.

    Bending and vibrato are facilitated by the height of the frets. That's also why some players like scalloped fretboards (simulates very high frets)
    .
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by LLL View Post
    Higher action (but not too high) makes the strings livelier, facilitates better bending and vibrato, and cleaner notes.

    Besides that, you can pick as "delicately" as you want regardless of how high/low the action is.
    many claim higher action gives better sustain. I like slightly lower action then factory settings. but ya, when I bend I dont like uber low action. I also like my action not too low for the sake of tapping or harmonics. I seem to do better tapping harmonics on strings that are not too low. it seems the harmonics ring better or clearer

  17. #17
    Chris JB_From_Hell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    I like higher action on a guitar, and lower on a bass. Probably because I bend strings like crazy on guitar, and if they’re too low, they adjacent string gets caught under my fingers.

    On a bass, I’m more into sliding than bending. I also like a little buzz on bass if I dig in hard. On guitar, it sounds like crap.

  18. #18
    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    "Higher" only helps if the existing action is so low that the strings are buzzing on the frets. If they're not buzzing, then raising the height of the strings makes no difference.
    Higher action makes the notes more punchy.
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  19. #19
    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

    My fret leveling assault. Each grit will take out the scratches from the previous grit. Radius block with 60 to level. Crown with the 150 and 300 grit crowning files. Quarter round file for the ends. 220, 320, 800, 1500 sandpaper.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Clint 55; 02-14-2020 at 02:39 PM.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Fret leveling vs neck quality.

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