Continuing on my quest to subjugate this cheap bass I picked up in to the realm of "actually useful instrument" I've got a question about taming sharp fret ends. This bass, it has a lot of them. After a few minutes of playing it, my right hand in the area where my index finger meets my palm, is quite cut up.

Is there a particular type of file I should seek out to file down the metal that's causing the lacerations? Is there a particular technique I should use to keep from removing the wood when I'm filing?

2 Answers 2


There are a couple of simple things you can do depending on how severe the frets are hanging. First off, if there's a good bit of fret visibly hanging off the board, check into a fret wire cutter like this one from StewMac. Make sure to watch the video on that page for simple instructions on how to use it. If there's just a tiny bit of fret wire hanging or if the frets simply weren't trimmed cleanly, you can use a fret dressing file to clean them up. In extreme cases, you might need to get a fret leveler and re-bevel the fret ends. These files shouldn't damage the finish of your neck at all when used properly. Make sure to watch the videos on each tool page for tips on how to do that. Dan Erlewine certainly knows his stuff. StewMac is pretty much my go-to source for any guitar tools--despite some claims that they sell cheap-o stuff. You can always search there for some keywords or browse their category view to find a tool for just about any job you can think of related to a guitar.

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    Make sure you file in the direction of the fret board. If you are filing in the other direction and the file bites the fret strongly enough, you can lift it right out of the channel.
    – horatio
    Feb 25, 2011 at 21:21

You need to get or make a small three-corner fret dressing file to dress the ends of the frets. The StewMac item number is 1601.


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