What do you use to polish frets?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by TimTheViking, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. TimTheViking

    TimTheViking Squier-Nut

    598
    Feb 13, 2019
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Got my first Fender MIM Strat, a 2011 Standard. I've several other Squiers and I was comparing which one has the best fret work. Not being much at playing leads, I'm guessing that when you bend, the string should bend quietly and smoothly. (assuming new strings and not gunky old ones) If the frets have a bit of "patina" on them, they should be polished. It appears that my VM 70s are the smoothest, shiniest and quietest while all the others, not so much. So I'm going to polish the frets on the ones that appear to need it. So what's the best product to use? Automotive rubbing compound? Headlight restoration polish? So what do you use to polish frets and how do you do it?
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  2. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Dr. Squier

    Jan 7, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    #0000 steel wool. I use one of those fretboard protector things instead of tape.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. RetiredNSquired

    RetiredNSquired Squier-Nut

    Age:
    64
    972
    Jun 20, 2018
    Canton, Ga
    I got a set of erasers on eBay. Only 3, I think Stewmac sells a set of 6 or 7 (or individually). Mine go from 180 to 1000 grit, and I like them a lot. Might get a couple of the highest counts from SM, just for a shinier finish.
     
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  4. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Age:
    49
    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    A lot of guys use steel wool, but just remember, those little pieces of metal that come off go everywhere. Have to be real careful about cleanup. I personally don’t like to use steel wool for that reason.

    Here is a really good video about doing a complete setup on a brand new Affinity. The whole video is good, but if you want to jump to the part where he polishes the frets, jump to 11:00. This is how I do it. It’s a bit time consuming, but well worth it in the end.

     
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  5. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Age:
    54
    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    Most of the time I hit them a few times with a worn out Emery board. The good ones from the beauty & hair care store.
     
  6. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Age:
    49
    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    That sound like it would scratch it up pretty good. I’ve heard of using them to knock down fret ends or a high fret, but not for polishing. Are the ones your using softer than normal?
     
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  7. Oldguitarguy

    Oldguitarguy Squier-Meister

    150
    Mar 2, 2019
    Nj
    Music Nomad Frine Fret Polish. If you use steel wool you risk the metal debris accumulating around the magnets in your pups if not very careful.
     
  8. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Age:
    54
    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    They are not stiff like the cheap ones. The one I use is worn out . There is pretty much little to no abrasion left .

    You could compare it to 2000 grit wet dry paper,

    I keep wet dry from 800 grit to 7000 grit and just compared it .

    If it was damaging the fret I wouldn't use it ;)
     
  9. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    90
    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    I use wet/dry to 5K grit, then finish with white rubbing compound on a Dremal buffing wheel..
    Steel wool is never anywhere close to my guitars..
     
  10. TimTheViking

    TimTheViking Squier-Nut

    598
    Feb 13, 2019
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    I think he means the pink ones that have foam in between the two sides. They are used to polish the tops of the nails as well as finishing the ends.
     
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  11. TimTheViking

    TimTheViking Squier-Nut

    598
    Feb 13, 2019
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    I think I would only use steel wool with the neck off or the body and pickups very well covered. I did use steel wool on my new Epiphone LP Special 1 but taped the pickups, the top part of the body and had it covered with a cloth.
     
  12. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    Chicago
    ^^^ This is what I do.
     
  13. mkgearhead

    mkgearhead Squier-holic

    Dec 18, 2009
    Fort Morgan, CO
    Instead of steel wool I use bronze wool. It's non-magnetic so it won't stick to the pickups.
     
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  14. mofojar

    mofojar Squier-Meister

    Age:
    36
    272
    May 9, 2019
    Calgary, Alberta
    I bought one of those fret polishing kits from StewMac with the nine different levels of micro-mesh pads.

    https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/StewMac_Tool_Sets/Rough_Fret_Smooth_and_Shine_Set.html

    I finish them off by using this piece of a leather belt that I glued to a flat piece of wood. I read about it on some guitar website but the leather polishing compacts the surface of the metal and makes it more resistant to future corrosion. It's a similar idea to how old school barbers sharpen their razors on a leather strop.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/27420-mod-garage-fighting-fret-wear

    Between these two approaches I have never had as smooth of frets on all my guitars as I do now.

    Another thing that I have used in the past is a woman's nail buffing file, because it's basically the same micro-mesh as the StewMac thing. It works well on fret sprout as well. I like this one because it has five usable surfaces each with a finer grit. The last surface is like an emery board and not really suitable for frets.

    The Revlon Shape N Buff:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Age:
    35
    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    I used to use tape and steel wool. Now I have one of the Frine kits.
    I'm not impressed with the sturdiness of the metal guard tools.
     
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  16. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Age:
    54
    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    yes .....this ∆∆∆∆∆∆

    Mines not that nice ,but is essentially like that ;)
     
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  17. mofojar

    mofojar Squier-Meister

    Age:
    36
    272
    May 9, 2019
    Calgary, Alberta
    Yeah this thing was a bit expensive but not as expensive as the StewMac pads.

    Here's a close-up of the two finest grit sides:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. TimTheViking

    TimTheViking Squier-Nut

    598
    Feb 13, 2019
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    I like this idea. I certainly will not be any type of player for some time and I'm just trying to get the frets so they are smooth and don't make noise when I'm bending.
     
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  19. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    50
    Dec 14, 2009
    Philadelphia
  20. Bassman96

    Bassman96 Squier-holic

    Age:
    41
    Nov 13, 2010
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I use the backside of a rubber sanding sponge sheet (the thin sponge with the grit on one side only and rubbery sponge on the other) and a dab of rubbing compound. Takes only a couple secs per fret and they shine like crazy afterwards.
     
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