How to Level, Crown, and Polish Guitar Frets, The RIGHT Way! Correct Fret Buzz and Poor Guitar Action

How to Level Guitar Frets to Stop Fret BuzzMy ’02 Epiphone Les Paul was in need of some fretwork. I had some pretty significant fret dents and I had some worn frets which were causing my strings to buzz and fret out when bending. All too often, I hear about people trading in their beloved instruments because it requires some work. All instruments need to be maintained, after all, the term “finely tuned Instrument” comes from somewhere… right?  I firmly believe that if you’re going to play an instrument you should become familiar with all aspects of maintaining it.  When you truly understand the various aspects of guitar setup and adjustment, you’ll actually become a better player. This is true because you’ll understand how the string tension is balanced with the truss rod tension. you’ll understand how the neck SHOULD have a slight bow forward when under string tension and you’ll understand how this bow allows notes to ring through when a string is fretted on a flattened fretboard.

I’ve outlined the steps that should be taken below in order to properly level, fretboard frets. I also outlined the steps that should be taken to crown the frets once they’ve been leveled. I then outline the steps on how to polish the frets.

  • I first supported the neck of the guitar to minimize the amount of bow that might occur while sanding.
  • I then loosened my truss rod and used a slotted straight edge to ensure that the neck was flat.
  • I masked off the fretboard with masking tape and marked the frets with a marker.
  • I then proceeded to sand using a fine grit emery cloth and a 12″ radius sanding block. Once the marker was
  • removed from the top of all of the frets, I ran the marker across them again.
  • I then used a Hosco fret crowning file to crown the frets. I ran the file across the fret, leaving only a thin strip of the marker on the top of the frets. This ensures that material is not removed from the top of the frets that were just leveled. I then used Hosco abrasive rubber “erasers” to polish the frets.
  • I returned the truss rod to the original position and strung the instrument.
  • I then made necessary adjustments to the action and intonation.

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In order to accomplish this guitar maintenance, you will need some basic inexpensive tools. I’ve listed the tools that I use below. while these may not be “Stweart Mac’ tools, they work just fine and allow anyone to maintain heir guitar without investing in expensive luthier tools.

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