FRETS.COM When Frets Go Wrong

A small bit of insurance
C/A Fret Gluing
© Frank Ford, 3/3/00; Photos by FF

I really don't like to try to get frets to stay where they don't want to go. Before gluing any fret in place, I try really hard to tap it in and get it to stay down. After the fret is right where it should be, I may not be confident that it will stay there. Sometimes, a neck may be unusually stiff, or have a tendency for a backbow. In those cases, I'll make sure my new frets fit as loosely as possible without actually falling out.

For a bit of insurance, I'll glue them in place, but only after I've gotten them all right where I want them. The thinnest viscosity cyanoacrylate will run in right under the fret crown, and will be distributed by capillary action, all along the tang in the slot:

In just a second or two, the glue is distributed:

And in the next second, I come along with a little wipe:

One quick stroke with a bit of acetone on a torn piece of shop towel, and the cyanoacrylate is completely cleaned up. It takes a bit of practice to get the feel, but this little wiping trick works pretty much every time, and leaves essentially no residue to clean up. Gotta watch out for celluloid inlay, though!

I really don't think that cyanoacrylate will actually stick to the fret tang, but I do think it will stick to the sides of the slot and form little "dams" over the barbs of the tang, helping to keep the fret in place. The usual technique of heating a fret to remove it will vaporize the cyanoacrylate, so it presents no problems for the next refret.

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