I have a neck that I wanted to do a fret level/crowning but It turns out the neck is warped and twisted (back bow on one side while other side is showing relief, as well as as excessive back bow at top 3 frets just past a (scarf?) joint. As well as a dip at the 12 fret). 

Needless to say I opted to pull all the frets and re-level/radius the whole thing. The fret board was obviously allowed to dried out as the tangs for the frets were 'raised' on the edges.

Now here is my questions..

Should I hydrate prior to sanding If I do should I oil as well or just bring the humidity up and wait until after the shaping/leveling to oil?'

Also I don't own a neck jig and I'm unsure about how much or little truss rod tension I should give before re-leveling.  Or should I just get it as close as I can to straight before sanding/leveling regardless of what that tension may be?

Thank you in advance.

Tags: fretboard, moisture, neck, radius, repair

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Hi Jack OAT,

 I'm probably not the one to answer these questions but I'll start the responses by asking some questions that came to me as I read your post.

First of all;  What kind of instrument are you working with here?

It would also help if you could give some measurements of the problems. Your idea of "excessive" may not be what we picture when we read the post. 

Speaking of pictures, a picture of two may help us visualize the problem a bit better.

Speaking for myself, if I thought the instrument was too dry, I probably would have started humidifying the whole thing before I did anything else. If the instrument isn't hydrated properly, it can be hard to know what's actually going to need to be addressed. I don't think that I would have pulled the frets before rehydrating  because I think that could result in an unknown and, possibly, unknowable effect on the issues once the moisture content is corrected.  

If you are going to hydrate, it's probable that the whole instruments needs is, not just the fingerboard.


Thanks for the response.

Yea, I may have made a mistake de-fretting prior to hydrating. Let it be noted that this Is a amateur job on my own (only) instrument that was unplayable and I couldn't afford to have someone else do.

With the neck as straight as I can seemingly get it Im getting 0.047" @ 12th on low side and the same on 1st fret of high side.. which is honestly a lot less then when it was fretted.

The guitar is a solid body 98 Ibanez RG420 MIJ. And the body was well sealed with some plastic poly coat. It shipped from a TN to CA (high to low humidity climate).

I started with a setup.. then realized fret wear wouldn't allow me to get to where I wanted.

So I was going to just do a leveling/crowning but at the time there was almost 0.047" difference in some spots.

I would of wound up with almost no fret left.

With the way the neck grain is, it seems it was doomed to twist regardless. 

I have some pictures but they don't really show what I'm trying to convey.


Its rosewood on maple right - standard Ibanez neck, does it have the double peak inlays or just the dots - bound or unbound?

Anyway, its a a wobbly newer Ibanez neck which can be a bit whippy.  But, generally speaking there is no need to hydrate them and no need to oil them unless the board is decidedly dry looking.  Oiling the board will cause a little additional back-bow initialy which will likely settle down after a couple of days.

If it has back bow with the truss rod in neutral (no tension), wind in some back bow and level the neck to give 12-15 thou inch relief with the rod returned to neutral and then refret with standard tang width frets (around 20- 22 thou), use superglue to bed the frets as the whippy Ibanez necks push out frets like there is no tomorrow.  The refret will flatten the neck out some and the string tension (standard concert) will pull in some additional relief if all goes as usual.  If you are going to DTUNE a half/step or so, you will need to dial in further relief unless you are cranking up the string gauge to get back to standard tension.

The twist is a bother and you should pay attention to whether the amount of material needed to be removed will take out some side dots, binding or inlays.  You also will need to jig the neck solid before starting to work on it - the Ibanez skinnys will bend all over the place under pressure and you will need to have it fully supported under section you will be re radiusing/indexing.

Tell me what you are thinking on this,




Yes, rosewood on maple, dot Inlays, unbound.

With truss rod in neutral tension there is no proceeded back bow and .039" at 10th fret on low side and a bit less on high side.

Yes the original frets all (or 50-75%) had raised centers.

Hopefully none of the side dots will be removed I doubt it as Ibanez put them right next to the maple. As far as the top inlay I don't know how deep they put their dots.. but in any case I'm not to concerned. If I can find someone local with a laser engraver I may ad my own design anyway (I don't have carving tools)

I also expect I'll need to deeping the fret slots found .022 kerf saw at a 1/4 the price of a 'fret' saw.  (its a zona 35-350 if anyone is interested.)

You're input has helped a lot already thank you.  

Is the 35-350 fine enough? There's a 35-380 which is 18 TPI , a little finer :)


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