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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:29 pm 
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Walnut
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:12 pm
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First name: Skip
Last Name: Helms
City: Asheville
State: NC
Zip/Postal Code: 28805
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
Hi All,

I just put a new fingerboard on a bowlback mandolin and am having a problem with the fretwire. It is standard small StewMac wire and I slotted the board with one of their power saw blades. The issue is that the diamond-shaped grips on the tang extend all the way to the bottom of the tang. There is no way to seat the wire before dropping the arbor press onto the surface and I don't want to widen the slots to epoxy the frets. Trying to tap it in with a brass hammer is also hit or miss since the wire wants to roll over under pressure.

So, either I need to figure a systematic way to grind the bottom of the tang up enough to get a positive fit or I need to get a different wire. I'm not married to this stuff. I mostly work on guitars and the larger wires usually have half a millimeter or so of clear tang so you can get the wire aligned in the slot before applying pressure.

Thoughts? Thanks, Skip


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:21 am
Posts: 668
Location: Philadelphia
First name: Michael
Last Name: Shaw
City: Philadelphia
State: PA
Zip/Postal Code: 19125
Country: USA
Focus: Repair
Status: Semi-pro
Stew mac sell a product called the fret barber. It is great for removing some of the barbs for things like this. I had the same problem you had even though I was hammering them in. They would roll over. Now I'm not recommending you buy their product since it is a bit pricey. Thats is unless you want to. I made one just using my vise, a mill file I busted down into two smaller pieces and feeler gauge. Click on their image and you'll see what I'm talking about. Not to hard to get the idea how it works and how easy it would be to do it yourself...Mike

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:25 am 
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i had the same issue when using mandolin wire a couple months back on a uke. i managed to tap them in with a nylon hammer, in the end. as you likely know, it helps a lot to run a triangle file over each fret slot first, creating a "Y shaped" profile; this way, the tang eventually gets on track and vertical, as it gets coaxed in deeper by tapping


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:20 am 
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Koa
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Skip,

Break out the ole' feeler guage set and measure the slot width. I had been having a problem similar to yours and figured it out over last summer... the StewMac blade was cutting at .019 instead of .023. StewMac replaced the blade as soon as I made them aware of the issue.

If that isn't the problem... here are a few methods I use to help. I use a triangular file to widen the entry point of the fret slot. This helps a bit. Another thing is to 'not' cut the wire until you hammered it into the fret slot. This way you can hold onto the wire and help keep it upright. Once it is fully seated, cut the excess wire off and move on to your next slot. I think Frank Ford has a tut with pics and/or video on this method at his frets.net website.

Good luck.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:56 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:26 pm
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First name: Peter
Last Name: Coombe
City: Bega
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Using a triangular file helps, but the best move I made years ago was to chuck the Stew Mac fret wire in the garbage bin. Switched to Jim Dunlop fret wire and fretting turned from being a nightmare into a pleasure. The difference is the barb on the Jim Dunlop wire is smaller and is at the bottom of the tang. Makes a huge difference.

Peter


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Quote:
I use a triangular file to widen the entry point of the fret slot. This helps a bit. Another thing is to 'not' cut the wire until you hammered it into the fret slot. This way you can hold onto the wire and help keep it upright. Once it is fully seated, cut the excess wire off and move on to your next slot.


This is what I have done and it seems to work fairly well for me . That being said there is always at least 1 that wants to be difficult . gaah

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:08 pm 
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Walnut
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:12 pm
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First name: Skip
Last Name: Helms
City: Asheville
State: NC
Zip/Postal Code: 28805
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
Thanks Gents,

All viable options and I'll give them some thought. The barber is an interesting idea and a good rainy day project. For this one-off I'll probably get new wire.

I had the chance to watch Frank refret a couple guitars in the late '90's, I think. One was a GAL convention and the other an ASIA convention. What I was most struck by was how cavalier he was with sandpaper. I was always (and can still be guilty of) rubbing every last bit of abrasive off the sheet. He'd take as many passes as he knew it was good for and replace it without even looking. Helps to know the value of your time. sh


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