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 Fret level 
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Location: Jacksonville, FL
Post Fret level
I just got my used Stick (see my thread in the Introductions forum). It seems that somewhere along the life of this instrument someone filed down some of the rails in what I can only assume was a misguided attempt to lower the action without understanding how the truss rod works.

The obvious answer at this point would be to send thi instrument to Emmett, but I'm the kind of guy who lives for DIY. My plan:
Use a notched straight edge to get the wood as flat as possible.
Use standard lutherie techniques to level and re-crown the rails.
Restring and setup .

Other than difficulties in resetting the nut flap heights (the nut flaps will need to come off to do the fretwork) can you see any potential pitfalls?


Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:34 am
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Post Re: Fret level
rowka wrote:
I just got my used Stick (see my thread in the Introductions forum). It seems that somewhere along the life of this instrument someone filed down some of the rails in what I can only assume was a misguided attempt to lower the action without understanding how the truss rod works.

The obvious answer at this point would be to send thi instrument to Emmett, but I'm the kind of guy who lives for DIY. My plan:
Use a notched straight edge to get the wood as flat as possible.
Use standard lutherie techniques to level and re-crown the rails.
Restring and setup .

Other than difficulties in resetting the nut flap heights (the nut flaps will need to come off to do the fretwork) can you see any potential pitfalls?
Obviously I can't be sure without seeing it, but what you are observing is probably not any additional fretwork fro a previous owner but in fact the normal fretwork that Emmett does. In order to have adequate vibrating excursions for the lower strings, Emmett does some pretty meticulous fretwork on the instrument. This aspect of production is being automated in the upcoming Railbords but up until it has to be done by hand, which is one of the reasons Sticks take as long to produce as they do.

It's also one of the biggest differences between the playability of Emmett's instruments and other tappers. This fretwork makes for a much more consistent playing surface. I've never seen any of the other builders try this, so the action of a properly setup Stick is unparalleled (quite literally)

You can read about this in the following article:

http://www.stick.com/instruments/railboard/

These frets are not soft like standard guitar frets, they are stainless steel and would be very hard to work with normal luthiery tools.

If, when the truss it proplerly adjusted, you still have problems with strings being too low or too high, then the only changes you should need to make would be raising or lowering the bridge screws and flaps appropriately.

I hope that clears things up for you. You could post photos of the fretwork you are talking about though, just to be sure.

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Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:58 am
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Post Re: Fret level
I'll get pics up in a little bit. Primarily, if I get the board straight, there is a distinct point where a straight edge rocks at the 14th fret.
15 towards the bridge drops off like a guitar. The result is I can easily touch the strings in the lower frets. On frets 15 and up, the string hits the 14th fret first and requires considerably more energy to get to speak. I'll have to get the gauges out but it seem like 14 is higher than all the others.


Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:17 am
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Post Re: Fret level
Just checking... what kind of frets does your Stick have? Rails indeed, or rods? In that case, either the previous owner has been doing something weird, or maybe the epoxy that holds the rail has come loose. I'd check if the 14 th rail is really tight in place.
In case you have an old ironwood Stick with standard jumbo frets, the story makes more sense, because a loose fret is quite common on regular basses and guitars.
In any case, I'd give Emmett a call for advise.
Regards, Jaap


Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:42 am
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Post Re: Fret level
Rails.

Many of the rails look to be filed a little flat on the tops. 14 is still rather tall and pointy. This evening I'll take pics and measurements and post them here.

Thanks,
Dan


Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:48 am
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Post Re: Fret level
Rowka, take a picture of the frets and post it. DO NOT touch those frets yet.

The first rails where really pointy really triangular shape (they are at least on my first stick from 2002 / 2004). Now it seems that Emmet files the frets a lot more and they look more trapezoidal with a somewhat flat surface (at least in my new stick from 2012). They play great and its a easier to slide a note. What's the serial number / year of your stick?

You can check the frets (instead of the wood) with a straight edge, but if you do that, make sure that you check the outer frets since a big part of the patient fretwork that Emmet does is to put a little bit of relief in the upper frets where the bass strings go (since they move a lot more at that point).

My guess is that your stick is perfectly fine so before doing something that cannot be undone, get familiar with the trussrod, bridge and flaps adjustments. In my experience a good setup is 70% truss-rod, 25% bridge and 5 percent flaps and once you get it you will only touch the truss-rod, unless you change tunning or as it happened sometime ago, S.E changes the string set (1 or 2 strings went from exposed core to wound core at the bridge in the medium 10 string classic set).


Cheers, Daniel.


Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:01 am
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Post Re: Fret level
Sorry for the pict quality, I don't have my real camera with me so I took them with my tablet.
Anyway I think you can see that the lower frets (near the flaps, lower in pitch) are more pointy than the high ones (towards the bridge, higher in pitch).

https://plus.google.com/photos/117502058010613408546/albums/5775893722428258209?authkey=CMvDm7DdiIShPA


Cheers, Daniel.

PS: Sorry for the messy background, LOL.


Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:04 pm
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Post Re: Fret level
Okay, here are some pictures. The name of the .jpg describes the picture.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z33ahqwqa7ojtur/xDfLVe4FmR
I'm going to take some measurements and post them here.

Dan


Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:13 pm
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Post Re: Fret level
Oh, and it's S/N 2057
Nameplate says "The Grid"
ACTV-2
Has the Roland GK-2A (I removed it for the time being as I don't have anything to plug it into).

When I called to order stings and a strap I was told it was made in March of '89, but looking at the Timeline of Stick Advancements, the fact that it has Rails would suggest 1-'00 at the earliest?


Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:21 pm
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Post Re: Fret level
There are definitely two "planes" of finger/fret board on this Stick.
Nut to 14th fret
14th to 24th fret.

The truss rod doesn't seem to affect the area from the 14th to the 14 fret.
Getting the wood as flat as possible ALMOST gets these two zones in-line. Almost.

The tops of the frets never get in line.

Here's a crude, exaggerated illustration:
Image


Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:42 pm
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