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Guitars and Fret Cutting

Quite a few people enjoy making their own guitars / fretted instruments, including myself, however one of the most demanding parts of this hobby is the ability to cut the fret slots accurately, not only for the crucial spacing but also to ensure the slot is cut at exactly 90 degrees to the string axis and that the slot has a uniform width and depth.

Guitars Index

Fret Cutting

 

 

 

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My Tele, finished in 2003, sycamore body for sustain, walnut neck, maple fretboard and walnut veneer as a feature for the top of the body.

Precision Fret Cutting Service

Quite a few people enjoy making their own guitars / fretted instruments, including myself, however one of the most demanding parts of this hobby is the ability to cut the fret slots accurately, not only for the crucial spacing but also to ensure the slot is cut at exactly 90 degrees to the string axis and that the slot has a uniform width and depth.

I can cut these slots in practically any material, wood, plastic, metals etc (even ceramic if you're feeling exceedingly affluent) to an accuracy better than 0.00025" (0.00635mm) on a specially adapted milling machine.

The slots are not cut with a "gang" cutter as used by most manufacturers, including the best marques but individually cut to ensure the highest level of accuracy.  I have a guitar made by the most famous manufacturer in the world, which has always sounded a tiny bit off on the 9th and 10th fret, despite trying just about every string gauge available. More on gang cutters below.

I can accomodate all scale lengths up to 40" and ideally require a sample of the fret wire to be used to ensure the cut slots are the correct width.

My Strat, genuine solid Brazilian Rosewood. Made over 1981.

Radiusing of the fretboard can be accomodated, provided that the radius is pre-advised. It is better to supply the fretboard in a flat state and then plane it to the correct radius once the fret slots have been cut.

I prefer that the customer supplies their own fretboard blank to ensure that he/she is happy with the finished result but, if instructed can also supply the material to the customers individual requirements.

Round fret markers (inlay holes) can be machined in for a nominal charge but square sided markers have to be finished off by hand with a charge based on time. Inlay thickness has to be advised as some inlay stock varies considerably.

2nd guitar I ever made, 1967, Japanese Oak, Rosetti hardware.

Nut positions will be automatically machined in unless the customer requires a 'nut fret' in which case a 1/2" overhang will be left on the fretboard blank to be later blended into the neck.

The fretboards are supplied unfinished but machined ready for bonding onto the neck of the instrument, final shaping and then fretting.

Gang cutters can be very accurate but if used in high volume can heat up and then inaccuracies start creaping in. Quite often inaccuracies can occur when an individual saw blade wears out and is replaced without checking that the spacers to the adjacent saw blades are exactly correct for the new saw blade. Whole batches of instruments can then leave the factory very slightly 'Off'.

Individually cutting the fret slots puts little or no stress on the machinery ensuring the most accurate spacings possible.