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 Post subject: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 1:31 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I have always just run a file along the edge of the fretboard to get the frets beveled and flush to the board (I always do bound boards so don't worry about the tangs). I pretty much eyeball/go by feel. I decided I want to make a handle to hold the file and lock in the bevel angel. Mostly, I just want to be able to more easily have a handle on the file and worry less about dinging the finish. I am not sure what angle to use. I think the Stew-Mac tool is 35 degrees (to the edge of the board). That seems like it would take up a lot of fret top real-estate to me. I'm sure I have been putting in much less of an angle than that. That said, I have had one player tell me that the ends don't feel beveled enough. . . I want to be able to have enough fret that strings aren't easily falling off the edge but have just enough bevel to feel comfortable.

What angle are you all using?

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 1:41 pm 
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Koa
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35 degrees is my number-aprox.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 1:57 pm 
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Cocobolo
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Personally, I never understood why the angle had to be so low. Changing the angle can give a little more fret on both ends and many people notice a difference. I have seen the 'ultimate' in 'semi-hemi' frets. There is no bevel, the frets are carefully cut to the exact width of each slot, then rounded to a semi hemisphere. Time consuming but a great feature. I usually go only 10 degrees off. Takes no more time than standard 35, but some players like the feel. I never found a good reason to use 35.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 2:01 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Thanks for the input, keep the numbers coming!

I would guess I have been doing around 10-15 degrees. I can't wait to hear what others are using and any feedback they have along with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 2:57 pm 
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Around 15 degrees for me. Took a piece of 2x4 and cut a slot on the wide side just a little in from the edge. Made the slot just wide enough to wedge in the file. Works great and much more consistent than eyeballing the angle.

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These users thanked the author mountain whimsy for the post (total 2): Pmaj7 (Tue May 11, 2021 9:44 pm) • Hesh (Tue May 11, 2021 3:22 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 3:22 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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I've written a lot about this here using a character I called the grease ball weekend wedding player.

So he comes into our shop huffing and puffing and belligerent as all hell. He proclaims that he had terrible work done the last place he took his Les Paul and we had better do a better job.

I suggested he use the stairs and door before I put down my tool and show them to him.... He apologizes and makes excuses about two flights of stairs and how he needs to lose 100 pounds etc.

Once the gentlemen is vibrating on a frequency that I will tolerate and understand.... he tells us that he had his LP refretted at one of the best shops in the state and he hates the results. This shop does the 35 degree bevel. This player, and he's a good one too uses fret top real estate and he feels as if he lost much of that with the refret.

We just happen to do this differently than other shops for this exact reason and some famous clients that we have that also hate the radical bevels. Dave will barely bevel at all and will beautifully shape every fret end to a nice semi-hemispherical shape that reminds me of a a hard ball pistol round. I bevel maybe 15% and then round all the edges for comfort.

Backing up a bit why the radical bevel in the first place? Because it's cheaper for a stinkin f*ctory to send in some Gomer with a file with training wheels on it (predefined angle and guides) instead of methodically rounding off all the fret ends into a pleasing and comfortable shape AND preserve lots of fret top real estate.

I always approached building guitars because of Dave's perspective as they are "tools for musicians." This means that fret work should get as much attention as any aspect of the woodworking if...... not.......more. The fret plane is the user interface to the instrument and if it is not comfortable for the player the guitar won't be appreciated to the same degree as if it plays like butter and does all the player wants it to do.

With all this said fret ends are important and yet another opportunity.... for the small builder to demonstrate in real and measurable terms why their, our value proposition is superior to a stinkin f*ctory (unless it's Collings :) I love my I-35).


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 3:36 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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This thread gets off to a confusing start but then it lasers in on this topic bevel angles and fret ends.

Watch out for the fangs... :D

https://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=50025&hilit=+radical+bevel+


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 3:51 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Thanks Hesh. I suppose I should clarify a bit. My intention is not to just lock in a bevel angle with a file holding jig and poop out fretboards like a factory might. I start with the bevel and then ease the edges of the bevels including where the fret meets the board. I will use the file holding jig as a handle to get a consistent rough bevel to work from. This is the starting point not the end point.

Looking at the thread you just posted, I would say I end up much like the style Barry posted. fairly steep bevel with the edges relived and smoothed out. I agree that the fret end treatment should be driven by player feel. That is really my question, what angle (range) offers max real estate while offering the comfort/feel players want.

I think the case where I had a player tell me the edges werren't beveled enough might have been more of a misrepresentation on his part. I'm thinking that particular guitar could have used a bit more softening of the transition from crown to bevel. He was feeling that but could see the bevel was steeper than he was used to seeing so his interpretation was the bevel was too steep.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 4:24 pm 
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I have StewMac fret beveling tools, but I prefer to adjust the angle to a slightly more upright angle. As someone mentioned, it leaves more real estate on the top of the fret for players who use vibrato on both E strings. Then I radius the fret end with a 3 cornered file to make it comfy for the player and to look nice. Hemispherical ends are just showing off (time is money, guys).

Right now, it seems many folks are asking for a more played in feel - that's the result of a rounder edge on the neck - but not the fret. I've had to refret guitars that were rounded off so far either E string fell off the neck when fretted anywhere away from the nut.

We can't put in back on after someone else takes it off....

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 6:22 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Here is the fret bevel holder I made many moons ago from a design in Don Teeter's guitar repair book. It started at 35 degrees but based on discussions in that older thread I adjusted to a bit more vertical a few years ago. I like the additional real estate. The post is for added grip.

A file holder like this ensures the fret ends will be in a straight line and a consistent angle. One small detail is to put a radius on the face that runs on the frets to keep the tool from rocking.


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These users thanked the author Barry Daniels for the post: Hesh (Wed May 12, 2021 5:46 am)
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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 6:57 pm 
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I made one years ago similar to the Stew Mac one out of a piece of 2" x 4". The blade on my tablesaw cut a groove that was perfect width for a file to be tapped in and held tightly. I think mine is 20 degrees. Cut the tail end of the file off so you're not banging into the headstock on the one side. I tried hemispherical before and didn't like it. Careful filing and polishing of the fret ends feels the best for me. I do bind pretty much all of my fret boards.



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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 7:01 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Barry, a radius on the bottom edge is an interesting thought. Did you do as such on yours. The radius would never grisly match the fret tops especially if you had a compound radius. To keep it from rocking, the radius would just need to be tighter than the radius of the fret tops so it rides on the edges. I suppose just having shallow rails on each edge of the block would accomplish the same.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 7:22 pm 
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I used 30 degrees for some years till I came across the fret real estate idea. Made sense to me so I remade mine to 15 degrees, glad I did.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 3:44 am 
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I started with 35, but moved quickly to using 20 degrees.

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Catgut is an abbreviation of the word cattle gut. Gut strings are made from sheep or goat intestines, in the past even from horse, mule or donkey intestines.

Otherwise it could be from the word kitgut or kitstring. Kit meant fiddle, not kitten.



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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 5:37 am 
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Koa
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Not that it it matters on an existing guitar, but why do we not build the fret boards a millimeter or so wider, so that a steep fret end taper is not cutting into the fretting surface?


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 5:45 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Chris Pile wrote:
I have StewMac fret beveling tools, but I prefer to adjust the angle to a slightly more upright angle. As someone mentioned, it leaves more real estate on the top of the fret for players who use vibrato on both E strings. Then I radius the fret end with a 3 cornered file to make it comfy for the player and to look nice. Hemispherical ends are just showing off (time is money, guys).

Right now, it seems many folks are asking for a more played in feel - that's the result of a rounder edge on the neck - but not the fret. I've had to refret guitars that were rounded off so far either E string fell off the neck when fretted anywhere away from the nut.

We can't put in back on after someone else takes it off....


Time is money and thanks for saying that Chris, nice to hear here because it's an honest to God, real life consideration for those of us who do this for a living.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 6:27 am 
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One thing I have noticed is that with a more vertical angle you can feel the fret ends a little more (than say with factory guitars). I really dislike it when the string slips off the edge, so I’ve done the more vertical edge, just by hand, but this has made me improve my rounded ends.
Viktor


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 6:30 am 
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wbergman wrote:
Not that it it matters on an existing guitar, but why do we not build the fret boards a millimeter or so wider, so that a steep fret end taper is not cutting into the fretting surface?


Nigel Tufnel’s response to such logic: “. . . but this one goes to 11.” :D


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2021 7:43 am 
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15 degrees here as well...



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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2021 10:13 pm 
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Thanks for all the input gang, it was really helpful. I made my file holder tonight. Knowing several of you have been happy with 15 degrees made me more confident that the 10-15 I have been doing is okay. I split the difference and went 12.5 degrees. :)

Now I’m realizing that having just started prepping wood for the next guitar, I am a as far away from needing this tool as I could be. I’ll have quite the wait before I get to try it out.

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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 1:41 am 
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wbergman wrote:
Not that it it matters on an existing guitar, but why do we not build the fret boards a millimeter or so wider, so that a steep fret end taper is not cutting into the fretting surface?

That's what I do :) I like lots of edge space. The only technique I know of where it's a problem is thumb-wrapping, but what percentage of players actually use it?

I use semi-hemi fret ends, shaped before installing (concave fret file followed by wet sandpaper held in fingers). I round the edges of the fretboard slightly (just a couple strokes each with 220, 320, 400, 600 grit sandpaper before installing frets), and make the frets a little narrower than the board. It could be considered a waste of neck width, but it gives a very nice feel, and allows fingerpicking over the board without snagging your nails on fret ends, even in low humidity when most guitars would have sharp ends poking out.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2021 6:08 am 
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Pepe Romero is one of the world's best classical guitarists. Yuris Zeltins used to do the repairs on the Romero family guitars. For Pepe's guitar, the nut was changed out to have a little more room on the treble side to not pull the strings off. Apparently, pushing the bass string off was not an issue. This nut alignment was mostly because Pepe also used much higher frets.

For myself, unfortunately one of the many bad techniques I learned was a tendency to pull the treble and push the bass strings off.


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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2021 4:31 pm 
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After a trip to Ann Arbor (Howdy Hesh & Dave!) I actually started thinking about fret end bevel:) Since I'm a Sprinkler fitter (spray head) by trade I'm used to 90, 45, 22.5, & 11.25 degree elbows, 11.25 degree fret ends look and feel great.



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 Post subject: Re: Fret end bevel angle
PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2021 8:37 am 
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Customer preference where I was until recently. Some customers preferred the steeper 12 degree bevel, some 18 degree, while others liked a more moderate 22-1/2 degrees, and some stalwart souls opted for 30 degrees and accepted the loss of real estate with good grace on guitars which don't seem to suffer too much from the lack. We had four different angles offered as standard (which is to say bevel blocks are available to produce those angles), with recommendations absent input or prior art usually tied to nut spacing and fretboard width, but would hand-bevel on restoration work to match whatever existed prior to our work.

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