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  I wish the Thomas Ginex people would make a strong, thin metal, radius block that would fit under the strings and have just a small over hang on both sides of the neck....that way I could us my fingers to keep it tracking straight up the neck.  I sent them an email but they never responded.  Could use it to sand the radius into the fingerboard and dress the frets under the tension of the strings.  I have a couple Bedell BDD-M-15 acoustics that have very thin tops and they get a little hump at the body.   If anyone knows of a thin, yet solid metal radius block that would work with the thomas ginex system then let me know.....I'd buy it if it wasn't too expensive.  It has to be able to fit under their raised string nut.  Maybe a little thicker then their sanding block.

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Hi David,

 All I can say is, WOW!  Why would you touch a good guitar with this stuff?

If you don't know, I'm not a professional, I mess with repair as a hobby. I know how to do fretwork but I don't do enough to get really good at it so it can be a struggle. I can certainly understand the attraction of a simple and inexpensive process to level and crown the frets but nothing I see on their web site makes me remotely tempted to try their stuff. Frankly, good fretwork is in the details and they don't seem to even know that a lot of those details exist. The truth is, good fret dressing is a highly skilled endeavor  and it takes time, and patience to learn to do it well. This particular short cut looks to me like it will do more harm than good. It's like the guys who shave the bridge and the saddle down so much that there is no break angle on the strings because they want to avoid a neck reset. In the end, it just makes the repairs more expensive when they can no longer be avoided.  

That brings me to my next question; How often do you need to dress the frets on your guitars?  I have guitars that I've owned for decades that don't need fret work yet.

Some of the best professionals say you need to sand the fret board with tension on the neck to get it accurate.   There's a detail!  A hump at the body can disappear without tension.  Sure seems like it would be better with tension then leveling a neck or frets and then having them pop back up when there's tension via the strings.  You can guess at it and be somewhat accurate by creating a down slope on the neck at the body...but why if you can get it level in the playing position?

The thomas ginex system works...is it the best way to level frets???  No.  It would be nice if the sanding block was a bit longer and had adjustable guides to snug against the neck.  One thing is for sure....it's best to be level with string tension.  Leveling without string tension has no guarantee.  The TG unit puts the neck in the same position as an expensive vice/pressure type unit would do.  I'm not pro or con about the TG.  I've used it....it works if you take your time.  I have guitars that haven't been dressed for years too.....I don't capo them and they have good frets.  The ones I capo have to be dressed every so often.

Unless you do it everyday you can create problems on a guitar with any type of equipment.

Not necessarily Snake Oil but close enough, Ned.

I'm super anal about good fretwork so I wouldn't consider using this system. It misses more of the "details" critical to fine fretwork that its benefits [ease of use] provide. Companies like the one cited supply to the quick fix DIY crowd. I've never met a pro that uses it or ANYTHING similar. 

Fretwork is a complex alchemy of science and acquired skills along with an artist's touch on the shaping & finishing tasks.  Instead of taking shortcuts [like this system], one would be better off investing the time to learn to do fretwork per industry standards & practices. That's what we're here to promote, right?

David,

The rise or hump in the FB is common to many guitars in all price ranges.  The solution for a correct 'fix' usually involves a leveling/re-profiling of the FB and a full or partial refret. The hump can also be caused by an improperly humidified instrument. A "rise" at the body joint that disappears when string tension may be indicative of a soft [rubber] neck.

Leveling the frets, under tension, on a neck with a prominent rise in the FB tongue will result in VERY low frets in the 11-14th fret area. The best solution is to 1. Use the correct methods to true the FB itself (pull frets, true board & refret) and 2. perform a complete setup on the instrument as now the nut and saddle will surely need adjustment after the FB leveling & full or partial refret.

Regarding your specific issues with the Bedell's: if they're under warranty, contact them & make a claim. Even if they're not still warranted, I've heard they're GREAT folks to deal with. Plus, it lets the manufacturer know what's happening with their guitars once the leave the warehouse. They' appreciate the feedback. Either way, I contact the manufacturer to hear what they have to say and get any subsequent recommendations.

You need to tell me what the shortcut is that you talk about.  The TG levels the frets.  Crowns the fret.  Polishes the fret.  Please explain the difference from what you are doing.   There are many ways to polish the frets and crown the frets.  Pro's use most of the ways.  Most of the luthiars in my area are too lazy to do a good crown.  They think crowning the frets consists of a few swipes of a crowning tool and a good rub with steel wool.  Under tension....you level and radius the fingerboard (without frets), then dress the frets. 

I just said it would be nice if they added a radius block to their system.....this would make it easy to sand the fingerboard radius or frets under string tension....especially if they made the block so you could use your fingers along the edge of the board to help it track straight.

I understand what happens when you level with or without string tension.....I fixed one bedell already.  The action is beautiful on it.  The best method is the one that fixes the fingerboard and allows for the sweetest action....that can be subjective...but most people like it low for a multitude of reasons.

BeDell people are okay....no better or worse then the average.  I've talked to them.  I bought both of these guitars used and super cheap.  The BDD-15-M has a super thin top.

Have you guys ever used the TG?  Tell me what makes it inferior to your method.  I've used it...I can tell you one of it's weak spots....

Use whatever method you like, David.

I'm a professional tech [40+ years] and specialize in setups and fretwork.

My method starts with a dead flat 16" leveling beam and ends with Simichrome metal polish. All grades of abrasive papers are used from 220 to 12000 Micro Mesh. I use a 6" USA Nicholson Cant file with safe edges for crowning and rounding the fret ends. It's USUALLY the only file I need to address the frets.

Although there are many amateurs on the forum, we generally tend to promote industry standard practices and standards. It's just my personal opinion that the system you describe can be found nowhere in a pro shop.

I'm sorry to hear that tech's in your area aren't good with frets. You get what you pay for. There are a growing number of "shade tree hacks" out there that are giving techs a bad name.  The best thing to do in the situation you describe is to get the word out that they do substandard work. It benefits the true craftsmen in the trade.

My complete setup includes a systemic analysis of the frets, neck, nut & bridge. Once the evaluation is completed, I proceed as the project dictates. My fee for the entire job service is $135. It takes 2 to 3 hours and I consider it a good deal given the labor involved and my decades of skill learning and experience. Be it an Asian cheapie or a $15,000 custom built guitar, each gets the same attention to detail and care. If required, FB re-profiling/leveling and re-frets require, of course, significant up-charges.

When I encounter a particular problematic situation, like a good Physician, I tend to address and treat the cause of the issue than simply addressing the symptoms. That process may involve ad hoc jigs & holders. It's all dependent upon the task. As each individual instrument is different, so are the technical measures needed to get it right. Some require minor adjustments. Some require the equivalent of surgical intervention.

There are, as you say, many ways to level frets. We recently had a discussion on the forum regarding the use of Dan E's neck jig and similar analogs. I believe that the general consensus among the pro's on the forum that the neck jig does not produce better results than an experienced hand & eye. This is especially true when you factor in its cost and its ever growing list of dedicated accessories. Those who use it CORRECTLY also reported good results. But those folks are also extremely experienced so the task has the benefit of years of hands on practice.

Also mentioned was the PLEK system. Personally, I've not seen a factory made guitar that's been PLECKed that didn't require additional attention to get it where I like it. Perhaps I just haven't seen the right guitars. One of the occupational hazards of professional repair work is that we rarely get to dig into an instrument that doesn't have problems.

In summary, the system you use does not meet my professional standards as there's too much systemic detail work [fret ends, fall away, etc] the system cannot address. Different strokes, but that's OK too.

Use whatever you wish, good luck and I hope you find the device you're searching for.

It sounds like you do a good job....there certainly are a ton of back yard luthiars that don't have the experience.  I know you can do it without string tension and get it very good.  Experience over rules everything in the end.  The issue I keep going back to is a hump when it's stringed.  A lot of the cheaper chinese guitars have them.  Some of them sound down right good but the action is a problem.  I know you can slope it from the 12th to the end.....it just seems more accurate to level the fret board in it's natural tense position.  That I don't have a lot of experience with.  I did one and it came out pretty well.....

It's tempting to be critical of this system which is pretty agricultural by any measure but on the other hand it shows, by comparison,  just how far contemporary luthiery skills have evolved from this kind of thing and how modern gigs and fixtures have given us degrees of accuracy and technique way beyond the good old days of double cut bastard files and bluing the tops of frets. 

I see guitars that have been attacked by similar processes and it's not hard to make the client think you are a genius just by doing a proper job.

For the record, working guitars for the unruly Rock Gods get fret attention literally every other day......I will not forget slowly having one of my player's guitars returned for a "touch-up" after having one of the roof girders on stage used as a slide.......serious tram lines.....

You pretty much nailed it.  You've seen guitars that were "attacked by it".  That's a different issue.  They would have attacked the frets with or without this system....they didn't understand how to dress frets.  This system does the same thing as a regular sanding block..There are pro's and con's to different sanding blocks.  The major difference is the work is done under string tension.

I watched a little video from Ginex out of curiosity.

Just for starters, much of the time frets are uneven because they have popped up from the fingerboard. Improper fret slot size, never seated all the way, humidity torcher treatments, etc. all could be the cause.

Following the method used in the video, even if it was a good system, could be chasing your tail with mobile frets.

The voice over says to, " take long full length strokes", yet the screen shows someone (same guy?) scrubbing away, pretty much,"attacking" isolated area's.

Many fingerboards have been, or should be, leveled along the spreading string lines. effectively producing a cone type of shape. Simply giving the frets a constant radius end to end with a block may not be best.

Much horrendous ("agricultural?" as Russell called it) fret work would be improved by running almost any shaped abrasive block back and forth on it. But much damage could also be done. Sometimes banging your hand on the side of the dam machine works. It can be pretty random though..

That's just a start.

Your correct....there could be problems with how the frets were put in and such....that's not the issue....the issue is using it to level the frets and to do it with string tension on the neck.  I can tell you it works.  I can also tell you that if your not careful you can create problems.....that's pretty much common to any thing you use.  Is there better....yes.  A longer sanding block.  For crowning....yep there's better but if you take the time and do it with patience you can get decent crowns with it.  The nut of the issue is you can do all this with string tension on the neck.  If you have a soft neck or thin top that isn't as rigid then you may get a hump on the body.....if you level the board or frets without tension then it's going to raise back up when it's stringed.

David,

The “detail” you appear to be concerned with is string tension.  I don’t need to purchase their system to dress frets with the strings in place and used to do it all the time by using a thin, flat file and a DIY string jack.  I stopped doing it that way when I learned how to do a decent setup because I found that a lot of the issues I thought I need to address under tension were not a problem with a good neck and the ability to do a good setup. In my opinion, any guitar that I’ve come across that absolutely had be dressed with strings on has more problems with the neck than just frets.

 One missing detail I find problematic with T.G.’s system is one that you brought up yourself. They don’t appear to be aware of the importance of fingerboard radius. Even you are suggesting that their kits would be better if they offered a radius block. ( BTW, one radius block won’t cover the various necks out there). There is nothing in the instruction video about this important “detail.  And I think it’s particularly problematic when it comes to crowning the frets.  .

I think the big problem I see with the TG system is that the whole approach is just too "blunt force" to be a good approach. What I saw in the video on their site basically boils down to removing fret material in what appears to me to be a fairly indiscriminate way... then turn the plate over and remove more fret material in the same manner... then rotate the plate and removing yet more material in almost the same, indiscriminate way. I say "almost "only because they do move through progressively finer paper.

The "crowning" process just looks destructive to me. How do you “crown” the frets, bent to a radius, with a flat plate?  The “process” is basically using a couple of channels bent into that flat plate which rides up and over the frets tops. I can’t see how it would actually contact the fret at more than a very narrow point each time it passes over the frets. I suppose you can rock the plate from side to side but that probably won’t give an even shape to the “crown” and that doesn’t even address the idea that crowning is intended to shape the fret, not lower it even more.  ( don’t the strings get in the way if you rock the plate to follow the radius?)   From what I can see, the process they show in their video insures that the center of every fret will be flattened and lowered by the “crowning” process they use while the ends of the frets probably won’t get much rounding / “crowning” at all.  Even if you happened to get a fairly decent “crowning” effect, ( by rocking the plate) there is nothing at all in their system to address the ends of the frets. 

Obviously T.G’s stuff will change the frets but they just don’t appear to be the right tool or the right manner to do it.  

You asked if we have tried it. No, I can use a hammer to drive screws and they will certainly move into the wood, but it's just better to use a screw driver to drive screws and you really shouldn’t need to try driving screws with a hammer to see why that is true. I don’t need to try their stuff to understand why it’s not a good idea.

You can do whatever you want to your guitars but I wouldn't want anyone to touch any of my instruments with a system like this.

  I can ask the same question you asked.  How can you dress a radiused fret with a flat sanding block?  We'll, we know you can.  There's no difference in the TG other then the length and width of the sanding block.  If you crank it hard over the middle of the frets then yep....you'll get a flat spot in the middle of the fret.  You got to take your time just like using a regular sanding block.

I'll agree with you on the crowning....it cuts perpendicular vs parallel...the thing is it doesn't take a lot off the top of the fret.  You still have to angle it just like a standard crowning tool.  There are better ways then the TG for crowning

I know there are different radius....They'd have to make more then one.  I may make one out of fiber glass or a thin piece of wood supported by metal glued on top.  Most of my guitars are 16".   I do think it would be a good way to level and radius the fingerboard with string tension on the guitar.  I don't have to use the TG to crown....I've got crowning tools.  I've used it and it's not bad.....it doesn't take a lot of metal off at once so it takes a long time to get a decent crown.  Now leveling you can flatten the fret real quick.

There is a ton of great sounding guitars out there with a hump.  I'm not talking about getting something already perfect...I'm talking about fixing it.

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