Fret level and crown

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buddhuu
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by buddhuu » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:20 am

In practical terms, a curved crown and a more pointed crown shouldn't make a difference to the accuracy of fretted notes: in both cases the string contacts the centre of the fret, which is what we need.

For the line left on the top of the fret, I usually aim for as close as possible to a hairline. The idea is for the string break-point to be at the centre of the fret. With concave files this doesn't mean a relatively sharp crown, just the usual curve. With the Z Files the crown will be relatively somewhat sharper.

Some people don't like the more pointed profiles: the friend I mentioned in my earlier post, for example. He said that it made the frets feel more like the narrow-tall ones on many current Squier models and that he found it a less smooth experience when doing slides.

Personally, I don't really mind those thinner frets so I guess it may not bother me.

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timtam
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by timtam » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:28 am

buddhuu wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 2:21 am
I was going to try those a while back but a friend who has the centred one said he wasn't keen on the profile he got with it. He reckons that the frets don't feel as smooth when one does techniques like slides. At $300 for a set that kind of put me off trying - because if I got them I'd want the full set.
There is zero reason to get all three Z-files. The Centred and Original do exactly the same thing, just in slightly different order. The Safe Edge has only half the cutting edges as the fist two, so is very limited. I can't recall anyone ever suggesting you need more than one of them. The choice has just been a little ambiguous, esp given Erick Coleman's apparent change of heart in the videos. I bought the Original when the first video I linked above came out. I'm very happy with it. But the Centered makes just as much sense to me now, if not more; your centre line remains in the centre of the fret throughout the process, because the grooves are symmetrical (with the Original, the line is offset after the first edge is applied, and centred after the second edge). If I were buying one file again, I would probably go for the Centred ... as Erick recommends in the second video.

The file is 300 grit diamond. Which is as fine as most diamond crowning files, and much less course than the non-diamond crowning files. And you always have to smooth/polish after any crowning file. So the end feel doesn't have much to do with the crowning file. That final process also rounds the profile somewhat. The Z-files have two-angled cutting surfaces, so they create a profile that is a somewhat two-faceted on each side of the fret, although I don't think you can feel that after final smoothing. But you can do some more rounding during the crowning by rolling the Z-file a little.

How thin the centre line ends up will depend on how many passes of the file you apply (particularly with the edge with steeper cutting angle), and the strength of the file metal. The more passes, the thinner it gets, as you are taking more metal off the sides. My centre lines are similar to the Stewmac vids.
Last edited by timtam on Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Scout
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by Scout » Fri Apr 03, 2020 4:57 am

I watched the stewmac video, I noticed he doesn’t keep the file perpendicular to the fretboard effectively rounding the sides of the fret. They all act as safety files in that you have to misuse it to hit the top of the fret. As far as the width of the flat after rounding, I’m not very scientific about it because the sanding and polishing will smooth the top. I guess the thickness of a low E string or less. Using a file and rasp is a invaluable skill set to acquire and will enable you tackle any guitar related issues you might encounter, be it your own, your neighbors or even if you want to starve and be a luthier for hire( kidding, mostly). You’ll eventually work your way around the house fixing this and that and before you know it you’re tearing apart the bathroom because the loo wobbles and the faucet drips.

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eternal learner
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by eternal learner » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:39 pm

When i started on this stuff a few short years ago i bought a triangular file from the UK luthier place, if found it impossibly slow and i gave up and bought one of the expensive diamond concave "s" shaped tools from stewmac, did a set of frets but in not seeing the top of the fret whilst working them they came out uneven. I levelled the frets again ( a squier strat pulled out of a dump bin) and went back to the triangle file. The secret is don't try too hard to effect a rounded shape, that will happen without even trying due to the very small contact area the fret has with the file. Watch the black line thin as you go, change sides a few times to keep the thinning black line centred and stop with a thin black almost gone line. By the time you go over the frets with some fine wet and dry, and polish by hand ( i use brasso) they come out beautifully lightly rounded. Yes i am definitely a fan of the triangle file. ;D

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DeathJag
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by DeathJag » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:13 am

eternal learner wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:39 pm
When i started on this stuff a few short years ago i bought a triangular file from the UK luthier place, if found it impossibly slow and i gave up and bought one of the expensive diamond concave "s" shaped tools from stewmac, did a set of frets but in not seeing the top of the fret whilst working them they came out uneven. I levelled the frets again ( a squier strat pulled out of a dump bin) and went back to the triangle file. The secret is don't try too hard to effect a rounded shape, that will happen without even trying due to the very small contact area the fret has with the file. Watch the black line thin as you go, change sides a few times to keep the thinning black line centred and stop with a thin black almost gone line. By the time you go over the frets with some fine wet and dry, and polish by hand ( i use brasso) they come out beautifully lightly rounded. Yes i am definitely a fan of the triangle file. ;D
I appreciate your post! Especially about watching the black line. Just curious if you think the Z file would be any better? Such a price but if it works as advertised it seems worth it?

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eternal learner
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Re: Fret level and crown

Post by eternal learner » Sat Apr 11, 2020 9:26 pm

If in your boots i would continue with the triangle file. "New" designs i tend to see as a little gimmicky and eventually disappear, but i may be wrong on the Z file thing. When you do this work for your self and no one paying you you have the luxury of taking your time to get it right, develop the hand to eye skill etc. 8)

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