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How to dress guitar frets with a file

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Image of a guitar with dirty frets that needs to be cleaned with a fret end dressing file It’s possible for new guitars to have burrs on the frets, depending on the maker, or for old frets to become dirty and rough to the touch. In either case, the frets may need to be filed.
Image of a DIYer removing their guitar's strings so that they can dress the frets with a fret end dressing file You’ll need to remove the strings from your guitar and set them aside.

What do you need?

Image of an adjustable fret end file along with the three different sizes of file attachment that go with it: skinny, medium and large All you will need for this task is a fret end dressing file.

The filing process

A DIYer positioning the fret end dressing file so that the concave filing surface sits snugly over the guitar fret

Step 1 – Position file

Holding the file securely in your dominant hand, position it over the fret.

Image of a DIYer filing with a fret end dressing file

Step 2 – File along fret

Slide the file along the length of the fret, applying light pressure and being careful not to make contact with the fretboard.

A warning sign to remind DIYers not to push hard enough with the fret end dressing file that their fingerboard gets scratched Don’t be tempted to apply too much pressure, as this could cause the file to get stuck and then lurch forward. This could result in you slipping and damaging the guitar.
You should now repeat the filing process

Step 3 – Repeat

Lift the file off the fret and repeat.

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