I wanted to get some different views about this topic. Feelings on whether there should be tension on the truss rod, moderate tension, or no tension at all when installing new frets. I glue frets in with cyanoacrylate glue, and leave the truss rod completely backed off - this is how I was taught.

Generally, I have good success with this technique, but there are jobs when things seem to go askew without explanation, usually resulting in a head-scratching re-do. Perhaps a new approach is in the cards.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

~ Dave

Tags: fret, install, neck, re-fret, tension

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You're going to get 100 different opinions on this one. I use the truss rod to get the neck as straight as possible before I start planing. I keep it there while tapping in frets and leveling/dressing. When the job is done, you'll need to do a complete set-up anyway. There are many factors that can cause a fret job to go south. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Agree with the 'if it was easy everyone would be doing it".........if the neck is good and stable, the fret slots about right, and doesn't need any 'bias' on it I like to level it with no truss rod tension on it and refret the same. Tight fret slots are another kettle of fish as the fret tang compression will back bow the neck a tad, and that is a whole new discussion.
Hey Dave,

Since our step by step working methods are part of our own greater refretting procedures it's important to put these working methods into the proper context. Refretting is like shooting pool, in that you always want to set yourself up for the next shot. That said, I take the tension off of the truss rod before I tap the new frets in, most of the time... I also glue frets with c.a.
In my experience, the most re-fretting interventions do not necessitate of planing the fretboard, just a touch of sand paper.
Anyway, to loosen the truss-rod (also if not completely) is a good procedure. Then, as Russell said, there's the fret tang and slots size problem to be solved, and that goes from case to case. I'm for CA glue too. I pre- bend the frets when not using longer pieces of fret-wire.
For a standard single-action truss rod neck, I like to tighten the rod slightly to rive the neck a tiny backbow. Then, I'll level the board by sanding, after which I'l select good fitting fret wire and tap the frets in place. Once I've leveled the frets, I'll have a nice straight neck, and a truss rod setup that will allow me to loosen it to achieve a little more relief if needed during setup.
I agree with the use of moderate tension during the planing/sanding process, especially in cases where no relief can be achieved by loosening the truss rod off to a "just snug" tension. Normally, once the frets are being installed I'll loosen the truss right off because, as Vance stated, the tang compression will back bow the neck - in which case, re-gaining use of the truss for relief is negated. Especially sensitive when using CA because you're filling any voids that may be there with something that is somewhere in between the density of wood and steel. This 77 Strat I'm having issue with right now has fret slots that (if I'm exaggerating - and I am), look like the last guy went at them with a crosscut saw

I understand it's pretty much a case by case process and, for all intents and purposes, setting up that pool shot still depends on whether you're playing snooker or 9-ball.... In other words, we pretty much know what to expect from various manufacturers but, to be sure, they also all have their own various defects. Hallelujah for that, or I for one would be out of a job.

Which reminds me, that's what I should be doing right now....

Thanks guys, for your thoughts.
Uh, sorry Russell... Russell Vance. I've got it now.


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