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Old 02-08-2021, 02:34 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 8,376

Installing frets is "easy" only after one has "perfected" the method one uses. There are lots of variables that need to be addressed before it is "easy".

Fret wire is pretty standard. It isn't likely that StewMac has sent you customized fret wire that differs from standard wires. It is important that the fret slots be sufficiently deep that they fully accommodate the depth of the fret's tang and don't prevent the fret crown from fully seating. Generally, that means making the slots deeper than the tang.

Generally, the harder the fret wire, the more resistant it is to taking on a different shape. With a radiused fretboard, the fret wire needs to be of an "appropriate" radius prior to installation. Generally, that means a smaller radius than the fingerboard. If you use the same size - or larger - radius as the fretboard, the ends generally won't stay seated: you push/hammer them down, they pop back up.

Having a smaller radius fret than fretboard allows the ends to contact first, and be pressed/hammered home first. Hammering/pressing the centers in afterwards keeps the pressure downward on the fret ends. The opposite happens if the fret radius is too large for the fretboard radius. If the fret board radius changes along the length of the fretboard, that means the fret radius might need to also.

Although tedious, you can bend/radius frets with two pairs of pliers. A better/easier method is to use a roller arrangement. Doing so will go a long way towards getting frets to seat properly.

I usually end up having to CA glue down some stubborn fret ends. I always enjoy working with the soft fret wire I use on classical guitars, where wear isn't an issue. The stuff goes in so easily as it has no mind of its own and requires very little technique to install. In my geographical area, it used to be commonly used by all of the local builders on steel string guitars, but these days harder fret wires are the norm.
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