Matt Wickham

Fretting is a difficult thing to get right but do it properly your build could play fantastically, for me I always struggled with it until I got some tips how do do it, so I am going to give these tips to you and hopefully it will help you guys.

To ensure fretting goes well make sure the fret slot is clear of paint, dirt and debris, use a fine knife or just go through the slot with a saw to clean it out.

Get some fret wire and Pre Bend it, you can do this using a fret bender or by sticking one end in a vice and bending it over.

Fret bending tool

Cut the fret off slightly longer than the slot, and before fretting add a dab of super glue on each end of the fret and tap the ends in to the slots.

Tapping the ends of the fret in with a fretting hammer

After taping the ends in you then tap the middle in to the slot, the reason for the super glue on the end is to stop the end of the pop up when happing the middle down.

The fret fully seated flat in the slot.

After all 24 frets are installed, the edges are levelled off and bevelled for comfortable playing.

Left: Frets before side levelling
Right: Frets levelled of, they will now be chamfered and filed.

If you have realized I have not put the zero fret on. There is a reason, before I install the zero fret I make sure the frets are level by using a spirit level with wet and dry sand paper on the under side and run it back and forth just to take the top off the fret. To see which are high and low I have put Marker pen on the frets to see which have been touched by the spirit level.

The top of the frets are then flat, if this is the case you will need a Gurian Fret File this Is used to round the top of the fret over, its important to do this as if its left flat it will affect tuning and intonation.

Gurian fret file.

I then after levelling and polishing the frets with T cut, and wire wool, I install the Zero fret, The zero fret is higher than the rest of the frets therefore installed last.

After this installed its ready to play and should look like this:

Finished article


Q: If you are putting a finish on the fret-board is this done before fretting? And all the finish on is RS is done with Rustin's Plastic Coating, is it not?

I would advise you finish the neck before fretting, Some people finish and lacquer the board with the frets in, the problem you will have in the future is when it needs a re-fret. And the Red Special is finished entirely with Rustin's Plastic coating.M. TIP - Some people use something called sanding sealer, this seals the wood and so when you spray on to it with lacquer or die or stain it give its a smooth surface and also doesn't need as many coats of lacquer to give it a flat / level finish.

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