I've seen guitar players over the years use Scalloped fretboards to interesting effect. I bought a Mexican Strat with a Rosewood Neck that I wanted to experiment on: Any ideas how to do the procedure?

  • What does having a scalloped fretboard allow you to do? – Anonymous Jan 28 '11 at 21:53
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    "What does having a scalloped fretboard allow you to do?" It does a couple things: You can bend by pressing harder into the fretboard because there is a gap under the string. You can bend more easily pushing and pulling across the neck because the fingerboard material isn't pushing against your finger pad, it's string steel against fret steel. I've heard some people say they thought it was faster, but people like John McLaughlin, who played with one, are blazingly fast anyway so I'm not sure there's a speed improvement. A downside is your chords can go out of tune easily by pressing too hard. – Anonymous Jan 29 '11 at 5:56

With great care. I wouldn't attempt this myself; but this looks like a good walk though of a scalloping procedure Fretboard Scolloping

Just in addition to this, if I were you, I would consider buying a spare neck or two to experiment on; so as to leave your original neck intact until you are certain you have the technique correct.

Here an example of a fairly cheap one. Strat Neck

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    You also have to be careful not to "dig down" to the truss rod below the fretboard. Don't ask me how I know this... – Anonymous Mar 28 '11 at 13:56

Mark the side of the fingerboard of how deep you want the scallops with masking tape. You'll need to mask tape the frets as well to avoid sanding marks and file marks With a rat tailed file, file to depth at the middle of each fret. You'll need some half round bastard files for the majority of the work. Start from the edge of each fret a carefully file towards the depth rut you made in the middle of each fret. The rat tailed is all you would need on the highest frets. After the wood is removed what I do is use different sized dowels is wrap sandpaper around them and star sanding out the file marks. Start with 120 grit then 220, 400 grit and finally some triple zero steel wool. Finish off by rubbing in a few coats of lemon oil or tung oil.

Hope this helps


I've got a scalloped strat and I love it :) I'd like to add a reminder that the neck of a guitar is under a lot of tension from the strings, and removing wood will weaken the neck to some extent. If you have a reasonably chunky neck then scalloping is fine, but if you have a super thin, widdly-woo, shredding machine the neck may already be right up against the tolerances of how much wood can be removed before problems may set in.


Seems to me a vertical drum sander of the right profile would be ideal. You'd want to make a jig to hold your fretboard absolutely square against the drum... Otherwise it's going to be very difficult to avoid "rocking" your work and getting one side deeper than the other.

Something I just remembered from reading an article on fretboard scalloping years ago... You can accomplish pretty much the same thing by replacing the stock frets with "jumbo" or extra-high frets.


OK! What you can do is buy your own fretboards to practice on. If you do it right you can then add them to your guitar. This would be a lot cheaper. You can use your the guitar's fretboard first if you want and replace it if you screw up or do it after you gain some experience on individual blanks.

You can buy fretboards from www.stewmac.com along with a bunch of other things(if you wanna do inlays, etc..

Scaloping can be quite simple as it's just removing the material between frets. It doesn't have to be perfect but you know the way it looks. It should be rather consistent though so you don't have any issues technique wise(where some frets may be harder to use than others or have strange issues).

What I would do(hey, and maybe one day I will) is simply get some blanks and practice on it using basic tools then see how it works. Probably the way I would do it would be to get different cylinders and wrap them with high grit sandpaper and use that to shape it once I get a rough shape(using a rasp or chisel(probably not good to use a chisel)).

The thing your going to have to watch out for is weakening the frets. If you do use a blank and attach it to the guitar you might have relevel the frets.

Luckily you don't have to be perfect since it shouldn't effect the tone in any significant way(as far as if you are not perfect). It's more of having to worry about the frets and being consistent for technique than anything.

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