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What is a fret end dressing file?

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A guitar fret deburring job using a fret end dressing file Fret end dressing files are used to file the burrs off new frets that are added to a guitar.
Image to illustrate that frets are convex once shaped by a fret end dressing file This turns the fret convex, eliminating any sharp corners or burrs and making it safe and comfortable to play the instrument.
Image to illustrate the fact that fret end dressing files have no taper The safe edges prevent damage to the fretboard, although you will still need to be careful to make sure you don’t scratch the fingerboard with the tip of the file.
Image of a guitar with dirty frets that needs to be cleaned with a fret end dressing file These files can also be used to clean dirt from files as an alternative to wire wool. Using the file is less likely to result in damage to the guitar’s fretboard.

For a step by step guide, see: How to dress guitar frets with a file

What are the characteristics of a fret end dressing file?

A fret end dressing file which is used to remove sharp edges from guitar frets

Cross section

Fret end dressing file are shaped a little like square files, but with a concave opening cut into one of the file’s faces.

The concave teeth of a fret end dressing file

Profile and cut

They are blunt, and cut on the inside of the concave section, but safe everywhere else.

Image of an adjustable fret end file along with the three different sizes of file attachment that go with it: skinny, medium and large

Size

Fret end dressing files come in three sizes: skinny, medium and large, which can either be found as separate files or as attachments for a dedicated handle. They do not follow Swiss or American pattern guidelines.

A close up of guitar frets, which can be neatened and smoothed using a fret end dressing file The size of file that you need to use depends on the size of the frets on your guitar. It’s a good idea to take your instrument with you if possible when buying your file so that you can check to make sure you choose the right one.

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