Guitar repair – The pain of fretwire-levelling-2!!!

Remember how I say trouble comes to me in twos and threes?

Well, soon after the visit of the Fender CD140,

Guitar repair – The pain of fretwire-levelling!

as I sat down to wipe the sweat of my brow, came in this Yamaha FX 280. The complaint: terrible fret buzz all along the thinnest two strings.

The guitar seemed to be a seemingly new buy with the staple plastic nut and uncompensated plastic saddle in place. It was a very pretty guitar but full of smudges. The thing with sunburst finishes is that though they look stunning, they are fingerprint magnets, requiring constant cleaning.

I explained the wonders of bone and compensated elements to the owner and he agreed to have them replaced.

On the first run with the fret rocker, I found these (look for the fretwires marked in red)

I won’t bore you with the details, but if you wish to know the rigorous back and forth dance that fretwire-levelling can lead, the link is above.

However, before I even marked the high fretwires, I checked for neck-straightness. It had a little more relief – not too much – than what I would have preferred to see. I dialled that out.

And so, when you level, crown and polish the first few ‘upstanders’, others seem to magically appear. When you level, crown and polish those, some among the first set that you seemed to have dealt with, have gone out of sync.

Treating the entire fretboard at one go, on a new guitar, is a bit harsh (in my opinion). If in the initial set-up one has to shave down all the fretwires, what will happen 10 years down the line?!

By the time I was through with the fretwire-levelling I had pulled out much of my remaining hair and I was breathing ragged!

After a break, I began work on the bone nut and saddle. Now those of you who own/have owned a Yamaha acoustic, you may have noticed that the company uses a very slim piece of plastic for a nut. Measuring how much I had to shave off it, I discovered that half the nut would have to go to dust.

The second photograph of the nut (though not very clear) shows how much the height needed to be reduced. These dimensions I got measuring the old nut.

Likewise, the saddle was measured and marked.

Looking at the mark, it should have occurred to me that the saddle slot was canted towards the treble side. It didn’t.

After everything had been sanded and shaved and put in place, the time was right to clean up the body of the guitar before strings got in the way. A good warm water scrub and the body was shinning again.

The owner had provided his strings of choice

which were thrown on after a slight twist in the tail.

Once, I tuned them to pitch and went about setting it up, I noticed that the action on the bass side was considerably higher than the treble side – which was just right.  The strings were loosened, the saddle pulled out, shaved and returned to its slot.

Then when I tuned up the strings, the action was just right – both on the bass and the treble sides.

It was a happy owner who picked up his guitar, and nothing makes one happier than a happy customer!

Here’s a final look at the guitar

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *