Can someone enlighten me? In my woeful ignorance, I've been doing fret jobs and setups for over 30 years WITHOUT a neck jig! Despite the fact that I have never had a dissatisfied customer, I have been told that I cannot perform a PERFECT fret job without paying Stew-Mac £230 + postage for four bits of wood, a few screws and a couple of dial gauges ....and a further £60 to British Customs, which I would bitterly resent! I know William Cumpiano is slightly scathing about neck jigs, I don't know what Frank Ford uses, but I don't think I have seen it mentioned in his pages.
The only advantage I can see is the "WOW!" factor, when the customer walks in the shop and thinks. "this guy's really hi-tec!". It pays to generate mystique!
Anyone care to set me straight?

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Thanks... That's what I thought they were. You can only get them up to approx 40mm length here and I'd like 100mm and an M6 size. I have no idea where to get something this length so I may fashion a raised platform using some M6 140mm bolts I have rather than resting the guitar body on just feet. Using thread inserts on the jig body, I can mount the bolts upside down and use a ratchet to raise lower the platform from underneath. The platform will be be made big enough to take any body size. Has to be a better idea than drilling 20 threaded insert holes...

Best thing I can do is build it and post pics later...

Just for you Ned.

You may have kept an Ovation bridge caul too long But I even took the time to figure a way to strap one of those soap bars to my jig! how's that for one upping you on the futility scale?


If I ever make it to Michigan, ( just typing the name makes me cold) I'll bring my neck jig and we can sprinkle some gas on them and light a pyre!

Your always welcome in Durango if you ever want to test how you do w/ the oxygen turned down.

Now that this deadthread has been fully resurrected, lets finish it!

I have yet to hear a non jigger articulate how they level the frets on a classical guitar,for example, in a precise and controlled way while preserving say .015" of relief already in it.

Any takers?



Years ago I was taking my family to California and our plane developed a problem, a popping noise, with one of the engines....  I wasn't too concerned since I worked for the company that made the engines and knew, at that time, a thing or two about them.  I just thought it was excessive moisture from the humidity on the ground at DTW.

Anyway we made an unscheduled landing in Denver, mile high airport where the oxygen is thinner as you mentioned.

After a two hour delay it was deemed that the popping noise was indeed excessive moisture in the starboard engine and that the plane would continue to SFO but had to now be "weight restricted..." because of the decreased lift that on take off may impact the plane with the airport already being as high as it is.  That meant some passengers would have to stay and take the next flight and they wanted 20% of the passengers to not proceed.

The airline offered future discounts but there were no takers.  Then they offered a free future ticket, still no takers.  So the gate staff warned us that they were going to start picking people on their own to remain behind....

As they started picking passengers I noticed that they were seemingly selecting only heavy people....  I've always been around 155 lbs so I was not concerned but when a gate staff person hovered in front of my wife at the time.... my ex stood up and in no uncertain terms told the airline person to keep on moving..... :)

True story and as such I can actually see great benefit in oxygen deprived environments..... :)

Sorry though, I digressed....:)

I'm going to have this response gone over by some of my wife's old math buddies in encryption to pull your secret fretting method out of it. I'm sure it's in there.

Nice try :) 

Sorry, got caught up in my geezer stories...

Regarding the non-jigger articulation consider this.  Do we have to preserve that .015" relief or... go for level, achieve that, and then impart relief including that .015".

For me much of how I approach any fret work or getting the relief that I want were I want it starts with observing and noting what is under string tension and then correcting accordingly.

Achieving level, using bluing and long beams that are perfectly flat and checked on a calibrated surface plate is a pretty good baseline and something that we all can understand.

Simply orrienting the neck with the support in the middle of the area where you want the most relief and then some slight finger pressure on the head stock to induce a bit of back bow makes the area where we want relief proud of the rest of the board/frets.  Be it a bare board or the frets themselves relief can be milled in as desired.

By the same process excessive relief can be removed as well again by orrienting that neck support fulcrum and now pulling up on the head stock with the free hand while using the beams you can correct a neck that say has more relief on the treble side.

In either example the degree of relief imparted can be what ever we want and carefully checking along the way gets me where I want to go.

OTOH going back to observing what is, under string tension first goes a very long way in how we approach any job.  A mental plan is made and followed and most of the time it's gets us where we want to go.

For years, even still now, lots of folks used weights on the shoulders of the instrument for say Martins with non-adjustable rods.  

Necks can be manipulated and some necks gravity does it's thing too so why not use this to our advantage.  After all it's already there!

You could call it a "touch" thing like hitting a draw in golf but way easier to reliably do time and time again.

ah, some non-jigger nitty gritty articulation. Thank you!

I'm not sure how to work this. it seems like this discussion should go at the end of the thread instead of growing it in the middle but:

I use a neck jig just like you describe using," neck support". the difference is, If I want to remove say .005" of relief in a non truss rod neck that has .015" with simple math I can pull back on the neck, set the dials and supports, and go to work knowing it will come out just as I intend. I can even stop, talk to a customer, go have lunch, check the dials and pick up right where I left off.

If I put an instrument on my jig and support the neck as you do presumably on a bench top, and try and hold the headstock down the appropriate amount with my hand, while simultaneously leveling the frets, the dials will show it is very difficult to hold steady and in the right location.

How would you know you were pulling back exactly .005" if that was what you were shooting for?

You must be a far better golfer than I. Seems like putting a draw on a 300 yard drive and landing it in the hole.

Oh the Horror, David! You just reminded me that I have an Ovation mandolin around here somewhere. Heaviest mandolin I've ever seen. I'd put it out of my mind.

I have a hold down on my miter saw that is basically a cupped disk with a screw in the center that bottoms out before the disk pulls tight. It's covered with a rubber cap. 

 You may be able to duplicate something like that by making a recess in a circle or square of plexiglass or aluminium (used that spelling just for you. Did I get it right?) How you would mount it would depend on what you intend to us for the shafts.    

That's a good tip about the plywood neck support instead of a 2X4, Paul. Thanks. 

 I don't know that I have use for a true neck jig but I like the idea of a work platform shaped like this for fretwork and such. 

Hi Dave, I would recommend trying a few jobs using it. Maybe you could borrow or build one. I've found it to be very useful in combination with the leveling bars (which you can also make yourself). 

I noted a real difference between my refrets and dressings before and after i got it. 

As for the plek, i often have to correct pleked instruments with the neck jig. (Fenders, Gibsons, and the like). Same with budget or old good instruments that develop humps over the fretboard.

I've found fretboards and necks remain more stable after a fret job using the neck jig, i mean deformed fretboards remain straight for instance (no, i don't work for stewmac haha).

I have yet to hear a non jigger articulate how they level the frets on a classical guitar,for example, in a precise and controlled way while preserving say .015" of relief already in it.

Any takers?

David, short of a treatise on the topic, there is no single answer. Every fret project, whether it be a level, full or partial re-fret, will have a slightly or very different answer. Each repair person's approach will likely vary some or a lot as to how they handle a specific fret issue start to finish. That is why no one is jumping in to tackle an answer for you.

One generalization I can make is that you have to learn to read a finger board and this takes experience. You have to be able to identify an uphill finger board extension, twist, or other neck and finger board problems and whether or not fret work alone can correct an issue. Is the relief out of whack, can the truss adjust the board flat, if there is no truss rod, can the relief be corrected by manipulating the frets only or does it need finger board work or a compression re-fret, are frets ends or centers popping up or springy. Fret tops too flat, not enough meat left to redress... this list could go on and on.

Another generalization I can make is that you need to acquire the right tools. You must have good straight edges to analyze fret relationships. Long to read the fret tops along entire board and beyond to the bridge, shorter to read sections of the board and some short enough to span 3 frets at a time to check for tall spots. I have a 24", 18", 15", 12", 8", 3", and a 2" and use all of them as called for. You need several sanding blocks of different length. A long one, if it is deemed that you can flatten the board enough to level all of the frets at once, some that are shorter for working specific areas and on down to 1/2" X 1/2" for doing the spot on the spot of a single fret. In my book, good fret crowning files are mandatory, a lot of playability issues can be/are caused from poorly crowned frets. I like use the hollow ground diamond type. Adopt a good method from there and get the tools to knock the sharp corners of of the fret ends and get the frets to a nice polished finish. There's more...

So there are two incomplete topics in two paragraphs. I think you may see from that alone why there is no straight answer to your question. Get some instruments on your bench and go for it. If you come across a specific problem that cam be explained, you may get more responses here.


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