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Sep 20, 2020 - 6:41:49 AM
226 posts since 2/7/2009

Yesterday after an extended period of practice quickly going up and down the neck I realized that I was about to draw blood from my pinky and had to stop. A few years ago I had a luther repair the binding. I noticed the sharp edges after that. I pretty much ignored the sharpness ascribing it to "newness" of the repair until yesterday when it became a real problem. Also occasionally I'll be playing and the string will hook itself under the fret forcing me to stop and unhook it. I guess my question is can I just touch up the fret with a file or do I take it to a professional? This is my nice favorite Gibson-made neck. Its not one fret but all of them are like that only on one side of the neck. I don't want to take it back to the same luthier. I'm thru with him. My pinky has a number of shallow cuts and looks roughed up. Thanks for reading this. I'm going to find someone who can diagnose and make my banjo right. On the bright side I have other banjos. Maybe my playing technique needs a tweak...keep my pinky on top of the fretboard out of harm's way when I do quick maneuvers. Everyone have a good day.
Dan

Sep 20, 2020 - 6:58:21 AM
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Omeboy

USA

2577 posts since 6/27/2013

Save yourself a lot of grief and possibly a huge headache----take it (or send it) to a luthier who truly knows banjo work. You'll get a professional job and you'll be happy in the end. And it will be worth it too. No banjo on earth should have sharp fret edges---period. Your first luthier didn't finish his work.

Edited by - Omeboy on 09/20/2020 06:59:23

Sep 20, 2020 - 7:31:35 AM
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194 posts since 8/11/2015

I’m not sure how you mean that the string gets hooked under the fret? One of my banjos came new with sharp fret ends on one side. Most likely due to the neck wood shrinking in storage or somehow during the shipping from Canada to Europe, leaving the end of the frets to protrude slightly.

I filed mine but I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you have access to an experienced (different) luthier. Not that I think you are any less able than me, but the process will easily leave small cosmetic blemishes that will need to be polished out.

This sort of thing is really disappointing when it happens.

Sep 20, 2020 - 7:52:58 AM
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138 posts since 12/7/2007
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StewMac has several resources aimed at addressing this problem. I personally found their video (Trade Secrets, Issue 337, September 5, 2019) entitled “How to make sharp fret ends smooth and comfortable,” very helpful. (Hopefully, it, and their other discussions/resources can help you decide whether you’ll feel comfortable addressing the issue yourself.)

Sep 20, 2020 - 8:33:47 AM
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rcc56

USA

3151 posts since 2/20/2016

Sharp ends on a fresh fret job or after binding repairs are not acceptable.  Unless the fingerboard has shrunken considerably since the work was done, they are a result of corners being cut.  And although even the most competent repairman can miss something from time to time, fret ends that lift enough at the end to hook a string rarely occur if the work was done right to begin with.

You don't need a "banjo luthier" for this job. Binding repair and fret work are pretty much the same on all fretted instruments.  But you do need someone who takes the time to do the job right.

For information on how to profile fret ends yourself, got to frets.com, and read the articles on re-fretting. If you attempt the work yourself, you will need a fine cut hardware store file and a small triangle or cant-saw file with the corners ground safe to shave and round the fret ends, and a steady hand. If you have loose fret ends, you are probably better off taking the instrument to a competent repairman.  In at least some cases, the loose fret must be removed and re-seated or replaced.

Sep 20, 2020 - 8:39:53 AM
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Alex Z

USA

3942 posts since 12/7/2006

"I noticed the sharp edges after that. I pretty much ignored the sharpness ascribing it to "newness" of the repair until yesterday when it became a real problem. Also occasionally I'll be playing and the string will hook itself under the fret forcing me to stop and unhook it. I guess my question is can I just touch up the fret with a file or do I take it to a professional? "

Two things going on here:

  -- sharp fret ends

  -- frets end not seated properly.

You banjo has a bound fingerboard.  The tang of the portion of the fret that extends over the binding is cut away.  If the fret is not seated properly, then it is possible for the string to slip under the top of the fret at the end because there is no tang to stop it.

You could file the fret ends smooth on your own, but the second issue may need some professional work.

Don't need a banjo specialist for this.  A good guitar luthier sees the same issues all the time.

Sep 20, 2020 - 9:50:32 AM
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2939 posts since 2/18/2009
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I have problems with protruding fret ends on instruments I build in the warmer months (May-September or so) once winter comes around or if they are sold to an area with lower humidity. As the wood shrinks the fret ends stick out a bit, and then they need to be filed or sanded down again. The fret ends being sharp enough to wear through your skin sounds very unpleasant, they shouldn't be like that. It's not a very hard job to fix it, either if you do it yourself or take it to someone.

Sep 20, 2020 - 10:18:05 AM

226 posts since 2/7/2009

This was partly a rant and partly looking for advice. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful advice.
Dan

Sep 20, 2020 - 12:04:57 PM

371 posts since 5/29/2015

Refretting should be done on necks that have been in a controlled dry environment for several days to a week to shrink the fretboard a tiny bit.

Sep 20, 2020 - 12:55:42 PM
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1007 posts since 1/9/2012

Further on the DIY approach: masking tape on the adjacent wood helps if you're not perfectly steady and in control.

Sep 20, 2020 - 1:05:29 PM

kww

USA

575 posts since 6/21/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

I have problems with protruding fret ends on instruments I build in the warmer months (May-September or so) once winter comes around or if they are sold to an area with lower humidity. As the wood shrinks the fret ends stick out a bit, and then they need to be filed or sanded down again. The fret ends being sharp enough to wear through your skin sounds very unpleasant, they shouldn't be like that. It's not a very hard job to fix it, either if you do it yourself or take it to someone.


If you knew in advance that you were building a banjo in September that you were sending to someone in Arizona, is there nothing you can do to prevent this?

Sep 20, 2020 - 2:30:48 PM
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Omeboy

USA

2577 posts since 6/27/2013

Last of all, only take your banjo to a proven luthier. Dropping it off at just any music store is a HUGE mistake. The majority of "music stores" are operated by inexperienced dunderheads just out to make a buck. You need a skilled luthier with experience. Anything less will put your instrument at risk. The BHO offers a list of luthiers: https://www.banjohangout.org/luthiers/

Sep 20, 2020 - 5:24:52 PM

2939 posts since 2/18/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by kww
quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

I have problems with protruding fret ends on instruments I build in the warmer months (May-September or so) once winter comes around or if they are sold to an area with lower humidity. As the wood shrinks the fret ends stick out a bit, and then they need to be filed or sanded down again. The fret ends being sharp enough to wear through your skin sounds very unpleasant, they shouldn't be like that. It's not a very hard job to fix it, either if you do it yourself or take it to someone.


If you knew in advance that you were building a banjo in September that you were sending to someone in Arizona, is there nothing you can do to prevent this?


I could put it in the boiler room for a month or so, where the humidity is low, but that would entail some delay.  In a year or two when I have moved I will hope to have a shop in which I can control the humidity at least to some extent, but so far I haven't been able to.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

Sep 20, 2020 - 5:57:08 PM

219 posts since 5/13/2009

Sep 20, 2020 - 6:22:15 PM

kww

USA

575 posts since 6/21/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt
quote:
Originally posted by kww
quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

I have problems with protruding fret ends on instruments I build in the warmer months (May-September or so) once winter comes around or if they are sold to an area with lower humidity. As the wood shrinks the fret ends stick out a bit, and then they need to be filed or sanded down again. The fret ends being sharp enough to wear through your skin sounds very unpleasant, they shouldn't be like that. It's not a very hard job to fix it, either if you do it yourself or take it to someone.


If you knew in advance that you were building a banjo in September that you were sending to someone in Arizona, is there nothing you can do to prevent this?


I could put it in the boiler room for a month or so, where the humidity is low, but that would entail some delay.  In a year or two when I have moved I will hope to have a shop in which I can control the humidity at least to some extent, but so far I haven't been able to.  I apologize for the inconvenience.


I'll live. Forewarned is forearmed.

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