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Building a 1963 Lake Placid Telecaster - Dressing the Frets
Click on each image below for a larger view.
This section provides pictures of the fret dressing process.

The neck came with finished with the frets installed. That saved me a lot of work but added some as I had to remove all of the finish from the frets.

I started out trying to use a flat beam and sandpaper (from Stew-Mac). Next I tried to file each fret individually with a fret file. The work was becoming tedious with inconsistent results. Then an idea struck me...you can see me using the blade on a scraper to "slice" away the finish off of the frets.

I could then file the frets, crown them and polish them. I knew that I had some "wiggle room" in terms of fret height since I bought the neck with Jumbo frets (knowing I would have to do some fret work to get the finish off). The extra height allowed me to "experiment" a little with learning how to finish frets. I've heard no complaints form anyone who has played it...so the fret must be at least OK. Time and patience is all it took.

Building a 1963 Lake Placid Telecaster - Home
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Close-up of the 12th fret area.

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Close-up of the lower frets.

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A side view of the scratched finish on the frets.

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The whole neck before the fret dressing / finish cleanup.

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Nicholson files and Fret-Dressing tools from Stew-Mac.

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Fret Dressing - Tools. Masking and painters tape; various files

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The large aluminum straight / flat edge from Stew Mac.

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Various files - all of fine grit used for light touch and/or finishing work.

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Protecting the guitar body.

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Taping the neck.

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Taping the fingerboard.

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I used the more expensive 3M Special Painters tape supposedly for delicate finishes…you'll see in later images I was wrong!

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the headstock.

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Supporitng the guitar body.

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Supporitng the guitar body.

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the neck continues…

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Taping the neck continues…

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The head stock and frets taped.

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Top view of headstock and frets taped off.

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The neck almost completely taped.

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The taping complete.

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The first snadings using the aluminum beam with the 320 grit sandpaper.

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I only wanted to remove the finish material and take the frets down ever so slightly.

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From this angle you can see the aluminum bar covers almost the entire length of the neck.

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The frets after a few strokes of the aluminum beam with the 320 grit sandpaper.

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The rest of the frets after first sanding. Notice all the finish chips and dust.

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Close-up of the frets after first sanding. Here you can clearly see the finish chips.

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Another close-up of the sanded frets.

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The edges of the finish still on the frets.

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Time for Plan - B…

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Plan - B.

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There's got to be a better way?

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The finish on the frets at the last frets.

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I'm getting there..

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Another close-up of me and the razor scraper…

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The frets with the scraping done.

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The upper frets with the scraping done.

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Sanding with 0000 steel wool.

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More steel wool sanding…

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Some frets still had a few sanding marks.

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You can see how much dust came off the fret after only a few strokes with the file.

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Some final sanding of a few frets…

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The shiny frets…but..

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You can see the area where the finish came off. (you'll need to view the large or high-res pictures to see it)

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Then neck with the finished fret work.

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Angled view of the shiny frets.

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Close-up of the sanded, crowned and finished frets near the body.

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All Photos (unless otherwise noted) Copyright © 2011, HiggyDude and Bobby Jean Enterprises
Website - Copyright © 2011, HiggyDude and Bobby Jean Enterprises