Fret that won’t stay put

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
2,103 posts

@molly-mccurdy - I need to contact you right away. I've sent you a private note here. Can you please check your FOTMD inbox and respond to me? Thank you!  -strumelia




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
2 months ago
13 posts

One other trick: use a business card to apply the glue:

  • First make sure there is no 'garbage' left at the bottom of the slot! A flexible 6" ruler can be used to shove sawdust and old glue out (though it's a shame to use such a nice tool for that).
  • Apply glue along edge of card and draw it through the slot. Just half an inch of glue might be enough
  • The first application is a "primer." Wait for it to dry, then repeat
  • Matt Berg's tip about putting down tape is a good one, but be sure to remove it before putting in the fret
    • His tip about using rubbing alcohol or acetone to dissolve CA glue is interesting. I'll have to try it! There is also an "Uncure" fluid for CA glue, but it only softens the glue, and can possibly make a mess if used to completely remove all traces of glue.
  • Then press fret in. Use a true straight-edge long enough to span the 6, 6-1/2 and 7th frets to make sure the fret is not put in "high". Any rocking can be cured with a small block of wood and a tap with the hammer.
  • Also check the 5, 6, and 6-1/2 frets, to make sure the fret isn't too low
  • CA glues are available in a variety of thicknesses for different gap-filling uses. I find that a medium-thick AC glue is perfect for such repairs.

And here is a tip for builders:

  • before inserting frets, dress the edges of the slots with a 45° chamfer just wide enough so the barbs of the fret go in on the chamfered edge not the top surface.
    • When it is time to pull the frets, this will avoid the dreaded grain pull-up.
    • Both the person who does the re-fretting job and the instrument owner will be grateful for that small task.
    • I use a small pillar file with one edge blank, so I'm only cutting on one edge at a time. That keeps the file from jumping out of the slot!

updated by @dwain-wilder: 10/11/22 02:15:09PM
Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
2 months ago
89 posts

Rubbing alcohol and acetone dissolve dried super glue.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
920 posts

I wear nitrile or latex gloves when working with CA glue. It is nasty when you accidentally glue your fingers together.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Molly McCurdy
Molly McCurdy
@molly-mccurdy
2 months ago
14 posts

Thank you, Matt! That’s a good thing to know. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Last time, I just started a whole new fret board with the intention of fixing the one that I messed up.

Molly McCurdy
Molly McCurdy
@molly-mccurdy
2 months ago
14 posts

Matt Berg:

Cyano acrylate (super glue) is a luthier's best friend.  Put down some tape around the fret slot, CAREFULLY put a small amount across the slot, press in the fret and weigh down appropriately.  In this case, clamps would be messy.  Stewmac sells containers of cyano with very narrow tips for just such purposes.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 months ago
326 posts

That's the way to do it, Molly!   But if you have more money than most of us here, StewMac sells a fret tang crimping tool that puts slight crimps into the tang to make it wider, for just $111.39, plus tax.  Such a deal!

Matt Berg
Matt Berg
@matt-berg
2 months ago
89 posts

Cyano acrylate (super glue) is a luthier's best friend.  Put down some tape around the fret slot, CAREFULLY put a small amount across the slot, press in the fret and weigh down appropriately.  In this case, clamps would be messy.  Stewmac sells containers of cyano with very narrow tips for just such purposes.

Molly McCurdy
Molly McCurdy
@molly-mccurdy
2 months ago
14 posts

Hi, Folks. I have a question. One of my fret slots is just a hair wider than the rest, and my 6.5 fret won’t stay in place. What do other luthiers do in this situation?