How many of us have looked down the length of a neck to survey the landscape? Come on now, we’ve either seen it done or most likely done it ourselves. Generally, it’s someone looking for the neck relief or maybe even looking for even frets…and that’s what we’re talking about today. Level frets.
Other ways to track down level frets can include simply playing the guitar or using a long straight edge. I’d seen Fret Rocker tools and figured it wasn’t needed. Except…. Fret Rocker tools are generally accurate down to a thousandth of an inch. That like 0.001″. And while I’ve spotted high frets with a long straight edge, you really need to take it 3 frets at a time to identify the single high fret. Why 3 frets? So that the higher fret one in the middle lets the Fret Rocker “rock” back and forth on the shorter frets on each side. So it “rocks”…. hence, fret “rocker”. haha! puns are cool!
A key to fret work is starting with a straight neck. Scroll down my FB page a bit to refresh yourself with the review of the Neck Check Guitar Repair Luthier Supplies Tools Straight Edge for an awesome tool that doe the trick.
Typically, a Fret Rocker has 4 sides of different lengths to allow your 3-fret span up and down the entire neck. And those naughty frets just cannot hide from the likes of 0.001″ accuracy. Like a guitar that looked to have about 5 high frets at first pass. As each fret was addressed, a re-checking of the area would reveal surrounding frets. What started out as 5 obvious frets turned in to well more than a dozen that were hiding under the shadow of their taller friends. There was another neck that looked to have only 2 high frets when checked with a 1′ long straight edge, but the more specific 3-fret span testing found at least 7. Wow!
Chances are that we’ve all been playing with uneven frets for many years and just don’t know the difference. Having played a before and an after, I think you’ll be able to feel it and won’t ever want to go back. Tools like this are affordable and worth the effort. If you ever come across a guitar company or a guitar builder that scoffs at measuring tools, run away. Run far away. lol!
Solutions for high frets can range from tapping them in (if they weren’t properly seated to begin with) or leveling the frets…both of which take specific tools and specific skills. Working on frets should be taken seriously, as a mistake can result in a costly re-fret. All I’m talking about here is a tool to check the frets. By all means, definitely take your guitar to a professional is you are not comfortable with fret work.
Here is a video of a Fret Rocker in action:
The product can be found online at:
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas