Negligible fretwire munch, massive fretboard munch!

This pretty Cort electric landed on my counter recently. It was a lovely flamed-maple top, painted aquamarine.

If that wasn’t enough, someone had painted an exquisitely detailed dragon on it in acrylic paint, raising the prettiness quotient many times over. That being said, it is also true that in the face of such efforts, deep-cleaning of the instrument becomes near impossible, or one risks erasing someone’s creativity.

Thus, we would have to make do with just brushing off the dust from recesses and corners.

Over the phone, the owner said that he wanted me to work on the fretwires as he had much difficulty in bending notes. No problemo!

Also, there was a chip of paint and lacquer missing along the lower bout extremity on the bass side. He asked me if I could fill that too. I made it clear to him that filling up the missing lacquer won’t be that difficult but he shouldn’t expect that it would be an invisible fill. Lacquer dries and shrinks at its own pace, bringing to nought the best colour-match efforts.

But first the fretwires.

The first picture is of fretwires 1 to 5, while the second photograph captures fretwires further up the neck (sorry for the crappy pix!). In the captures, you can see very minor divots on the fretwires. What else do you see?

I’ll tell you what I saw. The surface of the fretboard was as if a naughty dog had played fetch over not-so-dry cement. Electric or acoustic, I had never seen a fretboard that chewed up. What’s more, it was nothing like the marks usually caused by nails digging into the fretboard, but there were strange undulations in the wood. Try and picture a molten metal fretboard that was shaken in the process of cooling. The wood on this fretboard looked something like that.

I spent an hour scraping and scratching before I could somewhat level the fretboard. Even then, not all of the ‘craters’ could be completely removed. 

Levelling, crowning and polishing of the fretwires was carried out in that order. But first, the fretboard had to be ‘mummified’!

Seven grits of sandpaper, some chrome polish, a little help from my friend

and after the first few passes the fretwires looked like this

Another hour later, the board looked sharp and ready for some slides, some plunges and some bends.

When the owner came to pick up the guitar, I caught hold of his fretting hand and checked his nails (I actually did!!). Believe it or not, if the nails had been any shorter, he would be missing a digit on each of the four fingers of his left hand!

As far as the chip in the paint was concerned, the surge in Covid-19 cases has ensured that the owner stays holed up in his house, as I do in mine. But that is a job to be done: watch out for it.


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:

2 thoughts to “Negligible fretwire munch, massive fretboard munch!”

  1. Thank you once again for working on my guitar. Since then I feel my guitar is in a much better shape, and the bends are actually smoother now, and so is sliding, much of the older fretbuzz is also gone now.
    Really enjoying my guitar right now, thank you😄.

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