I agree with @Mike_R
There is a list of luthiers on the California Bluegrass Association webpage. https://www.cbaweb.org/Resources/Luthiers
You can see, they are spread out all over. The Hendricks Boys do excellent work. They also make Hendricks Banjos and they are a thing (and sound) of beauty.
Mike, I agree, your two cents is worth a lot to me, just like having a plan. I certainly will look into level and dressing the frets myself. Something I should know anyway I would think. I love all aspects of the banjo, including its construction. But I have enough respect to know that all parts work together.
The Hendricks is just down the road from me, I’ll check them out.
I tried posting a picture of it, seems my file is too large…
hi @rharrell Ray
You can resize your picture online for free. https://picresize.com/ then upload it to the site
Hey it worked, thanks Archie, you’re awesome!!!
This is the 2nd and 3rd fret…
Shush don’t tell everyone Ray
Those frets don’t look too bad to me, still a little bit of mileage left. Might be worth getting them dressed though.
Are you putting the capo directly on the fret or behind them? That looks like a lot of wear to me.
Also, you do not need any more pressure on the capo than it takes to make a clean note.
Thanks Archie, I’m reading and watching everything I can find on dressing/leveling/crowning frets myself. Trying to put together a list of tools I need verses what I already have or could use as a substitute.
Question, will I need to readjust my action after leveling or is it so minimal of material being removed that I shouldn’t have to?
JoeB, no, I place the capo behind the fret, and adjust the pressure to get a clean note. I’ve been very careful not to put excessive pressure on the strings. I’ve experimented with location to the fret and pressure.
It is not a must to adjust action after leveling. However, the nut action is affected by fret wear, so if you were trying to get everything perfect, you would often bring the nut slots down a bit with the level. I would level, dress, and then check the nut action to make sure it is still acceptable. My guess is that it won’t be enough off to bother you.
You can use a triangle file for shaping the crowns. However, I find a crowning file is much quicker and easier to get consistent results. As I mentioned before, if you have a flat fretboard, a file or a flat sanding block will work for leveling.
Shoot, my GoldStar is way worse than that and still plays fine. If you’re not having any issues, keep on picking!
I’ve been putting off doing mine while it still plays OK. But I am beginning to notice a bit of string buzz on some pulloffs now and then. As you say Archie, SS is something we have to do ourselves as Luthiers over here in the UK dont want to know. They will only replace nickel.
Hi Jon, You may find a Guitar Luthier willing to do a SS re-fret. Apparently SS is used on many electric guitars. So these Luthiers are more likely to have appropriate tools. Regular tools wear out too quickly because SS is so hard.
Mike R, I haven’t started the leveling yet as I am waiting for the files to arrive. In the meantime, I’ve tried to measure my frets for a starting reference, i.e. to know where my 50% would be. I seem to get different heights on different frets. Do I measure until I find the lowest fret and call that my benchmark?
I measure up high on the neck on a low string to get a reference for how thick the fret wire is. I use the tail end of a micrometer. That gives you your unworn fret height. Typical on a guitar is around .040". So unless your low points are getting down in the .020" to .025" range, that is ok for my preferences.
One thing to note: when I leveled frets more often, I didn’t take all the frets down to whatever was the lowest point. There would be less removed from the higher frets. So,let’s say I had .042 frets and to remove the wear (by leveling) required me to take that fret down to .034. The frets around the lowest one would be pretty close to .034, but the fret height would blend and gradually increase as you got further away from those frets. I might not even touch the higher frets. In theory, that isn’t ideal, but it suits me fine. That is why I ended up with partial refrets. The leveling takes more off of the lower frets.
Another question, I’ve got the fret board taped off and noticed the 5th string nut is higher then the frets. It is not coming out easily, do I file it down with the frets, or work on removing it?
Yes thats true Archie, I do have a diamond fret crowning file for SS and some fret pulling pliers and have practised on an old Banjo and it didn’t go too bad. The only problem I found was getting rid of the sharp fret ends. I had the neck taped to protect the binding when leveling the fret ends and after removing the tape it needed more filing as I could still feel it a little. Anyway, I will practise a bit more before attempting replacing frets on my goldstar. It’s definitely worth practising on old bangers first I think.
Hi Jon I used a Dremel tool. with a stone to take most of the burr off then a polish pad to smooth off
Well folks, I did it… I successfully leveled and recrowned my frets and didn’t screw anything up… the banjo still plays better then me. For the first time doing something like that, turned out pretty good…the next time will be even better… hopefully a while from now!!! Thanks for everyone advise and encouragement. The banjo community is very impressive, always open to help with information and advice… Thank YOU!!!