Fret-Levelling / Fret-Dressing

Kavus Torabi from English Prog-Punk Legends Gong and The Cardiacs brought in this much-played Gretsch White Falcon with fret-buzz and related intonation problems, due to the deep string-wear trenches in the fret-tops. Luckily the frets were still high enough to level, reprofile and dress without needing to refret the neck.


The first step was to remove the nut, to allow the file to pass over all the frets equally.


Then level the frets-tops only with a straight file, following the radius of the fretboard/course of the strings.

I coloured the tops of the frets with Magic Marker to help see where the metal is being removed.


Here you can still see the pit on the second fret. Once all the fret-tops are level, the rough file working marks can be sanded out.


The fretboard must then be masked off to prevent damage to the inlays, binding or playing surface of the fingerboard.


Very carefully round (recrown) the edges of the frets with a triangular needle-file. This is essential to prevent string buzzes, intonation problems etc.


Followed by more sanding out of marks, followed by a final high-polish with super-fine steel-wool.

frets dressed

There we go, the trench has been removed, the frets are all the same height, nicely rounded and polished.

Gretsch White Falcon


Fret-Dressing on a 1964 Fender 'Mary Kaye' Strat