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Thread: Fret sprout question

  1. #1
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Fret sprout question

    I got a hold of a nice two-point mando made by a local (Boston-area) builder. All is well except it has a rather bad case of fret sprout. I immediately stuck it in a case with an oasis humidifer (the builder had not been humidifying it, don't ask me why).

    My question is: how much time should it take for the fret sprout to recede if I keep it well humidified? How soon should I start thinking about filing them down?

    Thanks!
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    I got a hold of a nice two-point mando made by a local (Boston-area) builder. All is well except it has a rather bad case of fret sprout. I immediately stuck it in a case with an oasis humidifer (the builder had not been humidifying it, don't ask me why).

    My question is: how much time should it take for the fret sprout to recede if I keep it well humidified? How soon should I start thinking about filing them down?

    Thanks!
    Unseated ("sprouting") frets can be tapped down with a proper fret hammer. There are also fret clamps available for purcha$e that very handily re-seat frets by clamping instead of using a fret hammer. Sometimes frets need to be removed and glued in, in order to keep them in, but if the frets are original and have never been re-seated or removed before, the tangs will most likely hold without glue.

    This work should absolutely be done before fret leveling ("filing"), otherwise you'll be filing away fret material unnecessarily.

    Before doing any fretwork, if you've never done it before, I highly recommend reading up on the process. It is somewhat of an art and is best done by someone with experience and the right tools.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Is the fingerboard bound? If it is, and the ends are only sticking out enough to be aggravating, and you're really good with a file, I'd file the ends right now if you can avoid damaging the finish. That way, when the fingerboard gets wider again, you'll have probably eliminated having to do it in the future. If the edges are not bound, other problems are present, like the tang is sticking out the side. You won't be able to bring them flush without marring the finish. But you could still get close and after the humidification does its thing, you should be fine.

  4. #4
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Ludewig View Post
    Is the fingerboard bound?
    Unbound.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    When frets are extending at the edges of the 'board, I file them down. If there's no binding and the tangs are also extending I file them down. yes, the finish gets some damage but it can normally be buffed to look good again. I figure playability is the important thing, and if the finish must be compromised for playability, so be it.

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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    I'm with John, it is a perfect time to file the fret ends and eliminate the problem in the future. This is fairly common in the life of an instrument, unless it is kept in a very stable environment.
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    Registered User Tug's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    I have filed fret ends on many instruments over the years so you would think I would be very good at it and not nick the fretboard and generally make a mess of things but sadly no matter how hard I try to be careful, I make a minor mess of things and I am ok with that.

    Now that winter has hit Minnesota I will be careful about humidifying my instruments.

  9. #8
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    I just ordered one of these babies. Wish me luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tug View Post
    I make a minor mess of things and I am ok with that.
    A minor mess doesn't bother me. Like Bogie said, "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble."
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Cut up an erasing shield (google it).....wrap it over the edge and tape it down. And file away.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    I just ordered one of these babies. Wish me luck.



    A minor mess doesn't bother me. Like Bogie said, "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble."
    That's a great file for dressing the ends. I like something a little wider to go down the sides of the neck, spanning several frets at once, for correcting frets that overhang the fretboard. That may or may not be needed in your case though.

  12. #11
    Registered User Greg Mirken's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Jay, regarding your original question, my experience is the board won't swell back enough to make any difference. File away...

    Greg Mirken
    Shade Tree Fretted Instrument Repair
    Now located in Nevada City, California
    http://www.shadetreeguitars.com

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  14. #12
    Registered User Tug's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    Cut up an erasing shield (google it).....wrap it over the edge and tape it down. And file away.
    You will need your erasing shield when manual drafting makes a comeback. I still have all my triangles, compass, templates etc.. Just waiting for that job offer.

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  16. #13
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tug View Post
    You will need your erasing shield when manual drafting makes a comeback. I still have all my triangles, compass, templates etc.. Just waiting for that job offer.
    And I still have my exacto knife and pica pole!
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

  17. #14
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    I still have (and use) an erasing shield as well as many of the other tools mentioned here, but none are needed for filing the fret ends level with the edge of the fingerboard. Perhaps the erasing shield might help some people when finishing the fret ends after filing the frets down to the edge of the 'board, but a safe edge triangular file or two is all most of us need.

  18. #15
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    Default Re: Fret sprout question

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    I still have (and use) an erasing shield as well as many of the other tools mentioned here, but none are needed for filing the fret ends level with the edge of the fingerboard. Perhaps the erasing shield might help some people when finishing the fret ends after filing the frets down to the edge of the 'board, but a safe edge triangular file or two is all most of us need.
    "..might help some people...."

    Yup. That would be me.

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