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Author Topic: Upper frets issue  (Read 297 times)

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rabidgerry

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Upper frets issue
« on: Time Format »

Hi all,

I have a problem with a guitar that seems to require a totally unnecessary amount of pressure on the high E string to some extent the B string just to get the notes to fret correctly without choking on the last say 4-5 frets of a 24 fret axe I own.

I have already had my luthier guy look it twice and this time it has come back better but still unplayable for me on those last frets.

The initial issue began with the guitar choking out on those frets and I kept raising the action to try help the problem but of course it just made everything unplayable.  So I took it to my guy and he through some fancy filing got the frets to allow for the notes to ring out much better and sustain for a lot longer.  That it great!  But I still can't play those frets.

I can use a little bit of pressure and go up the fret board sounding all the notes no problem and then I get in around those last frets and suddenly choke fest!!!  Unless I apply a shit load of tension to the point so much tension is applied that you can't move around or jump from string to string with any kind of fluidity because your trying to apply all this pressure to have notes ring out and basically I don't know why this is and how the hell I can fix it???  I also have the exact same guitar in another colour and it rings out not problem applying the same little amount of pressure on those upper frets, so I have to get this issue resolved or else I will be selling this guitar on reluctantly as it's rare and sounds great and it plays great every where else.

Has anyone got any ideas?
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Guitars:1986 Westone Dimension IV, 1989 Korean Squier Fat Strat Silver Series, 1998 Korean Squier Fat Strat, MIM Fender Fat Strat - FR, Squier Stagemaster Deluxe - Thru Neck x 2, Squier Stagemaster 22 Fret - 1st Gen, 1999 Squier Showmaster - Anniversary Edition, Squier Showmaster, Tokai FV40 Flying V

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bunkyloo

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

I have a 89 Jem that had a similar issue and sat in its case for many years. The neck was slowly twisting. I figured because I moved from a cool climate to southern California (extremely hot here ).
So I finally had the fretboard shaved proper and a new jumbo frets installed. Thankfully no damage to the tree of life inlay but $250 usd later plays great again wish I would have done it years ago.
So mabey that might be an issue.
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Systematic Chaos

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #2 on: Time Format »

...
I have already had my luthier guy look it twice and this time it has come back better but still unplayable for me on those last frets.

The initial issue began with the guitar choking out on those frets and I kept raising the action to try help the problem but of course it just made everything unplayable.  So I took it to my guy and he through some fancy filing got the frets to allow for the notes to ring out much better and sustain for a lot longer.  That it great!  But I still can't play those frets.
...

Did you (or your luthier guy) check the neck relief/bow (Truss Rod). Seasons and different locations with their different temperatures and humidities have a certain impact on the neck and its relief or bow. So before filing and stuff I'd try to get it back to normal with some truss rod adjustments. No rocket science behind it all.

Another problem could be those last frets having their tangs come out of the fretboard. This can easily be rectified by re-seating them (google it....easy fix)

If you take the file to the frets, make your luthier give the guitar a complete fret level and -dress.

Twisting/warping of the neck could be another culprit, but I'd consider shaving/sanding down the fretboard as a penultimate final resort.

If youŕe absolutely happy with the guitar as a whole, bite the bullet and have a good luthier do a complete refret with either Jescar EVO or Stainless Steel frets. It's well worth the investment and will take your guitar to another level. 
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rnolan

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #3 on: Time Format »

Hey RG, it could also be the neck angle  :dunno: , though you luthier guy should have been able to tell you that
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rabidgerry

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #4 on: Time Format »

I probably should have mentioned that of course the truss rod has been adjusted, the luthier would never have just went straight in at the deep end.  He checked it and I also tried adjustments before he even got near it.

I normally adjust my own truss rod but I am always reading how only a thin amount of space is needed under the 7-8 fret when checking the relief and I always have a lot more than that, so before I let him have it, I had adjusted the truss rod to have very little relief.  I think the luthier ended up adding back a little more again.  He only adjusted the frets after I said I still can't get notes to ring out properly in that area and so he was able to gradually give me a little more clearance on those upper frets.  So yeah they ring out now but now I need to apply a stupid amount of pressure.

I'm getting fed up with the axe and embarrassed to have to take it back to the guy again and say "I still can't play up here".

I have no clue as to what else can be done hence posting here.  If I take it back to him what might he suggest?

It almost feels as though my fingers are to fat to play up there and the strings don't touch the frets properly making it feel like my hand is playing in mud slowing it up but in reality it's because the strings aren't contacting the frets properly and the only way to get the contact to it press stupidly hard at which point you render your fingers immobile as too much effort is going into fretting the strings.

Neck angle,  Luthier said the neck is very straight and because it's a through neck he had to do stuff with the frets as he couldn't shim the neck.

It's a pain in the ass is what it is.
« Last Edit: Time Format by rabidgerry »
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"whadda ya want? we want Heavy Metal"

Guitars:1986 Westone Dimension IV, 1989 Korean Squier Fat Strat Silver Series, 1998 Korean Squier Fat Strat, MIM Fender Fat Strat - FR, Squier Stagemaster Deluxe - Thru Neck x 2, Squier Stagemaster 22 Fret - 1st Gen, 1999 Squier Showmaster - Anniversary Edition, Squier Showmaster, Tokai FV40 Flying V

Effects:  Ada Mp1, Peavey Rockmaster, Boss GX700 Boss SX700 * Amps:   Rocktron Velocity 300 - Harley Benton GPA400
Cabs: 4 x Bugera 2 x 12"

Systematic Chaos

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #5 on: Time Format »

OK, so it's one of your Dlx Stagemasters. How are the frets on that guitar in general? Already worn a bit? As I mentioned earlier, in order to compensate for 1 or 2 high frets you have to level and dress all others as well.
Bottom line: if you like that guitar sound-, feel-,.... -wise and you can say for yourself it's a keeper, have it professionally re-fretted. If you feel like you have problems on the upper frets, go for a mix of frets.
You needn't neccessarily go Stainless Steel or EVO Gold, ask for a quote for Dunlop 6100 from frets 1 to 11 and Dunlop 6105 from 12 all the way up. Their height is the same, the 6105 are a tad bit more narrow and will give you a better feel and control on the upper frets. Intonation is no issue.
As I said earlier, if this is YOUR guitar, this professionally done refret will take it to another level.
« Last Edit: Time Format by Systematic Chaos »
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rnolan

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #6 on: Time Format »

Hey RG, well there's more you can do as SC says but is this guitar that important to you (it's not as though you don't have a few  >:D ).  Although I know myself that even if it's a guitar I'm not playing much I still want it to be a good as I can make it  :facepalm: .A sideways thought, is it really choking (ie buzzing out on the next fret) or maybe there's a "dead" (suck hole) area of the finger board ? Is it a rosewood FB ? IIRC it is.  Remember the tone woods post from ages ago ? Rosewood sucks tone (and the article said that's why leo fender used like a curved thickish veneer of rosewood rather than a normal thicker solid slab, but anyway, FB can have dead spots.  Pressing harder to get the note won't (shouldn't) make any difference to the strings clearance of the next fret.Ok so correct me if I'm wrong - You have an almost identical guitar that plays up there fine - so it's not your fat fingersThe neck relief will affect the action (more relief, higher action) so you have to push down a bit harder but otherwise has no effect up that end
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herbyguitar

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #7 on: Time Format »

You said the two guitars are identical. Are they absolutely identical? Are you playing them exactly the same?
Big hands, low frets, small space between frets, not fretting in the right place, not having enough room to fret in the right place 'will' cause this issue. There's a 2 part fix but you may only need to implement one of them. Remedy 1: taller, narrower frets. Remedy 2: finger placement slightly farther back towards the nut (a problem if you have big fingers). You shouldn't have to push down any harder than normal but if there's not enough room or your fretting too far forward you will have trouble.
It's highly unlikely that 'all' the upper frets are not seated tightly.
« Last Edit: Time Format by herbyguitar »
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rabidgerry

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #8 on: Time Format »

You said the two guitars are identical. Are they absolutely identical? Are you playing them exactly the same?
Big hands, low frets, small space between frets, not fretting in the right place, not having enough room to fret in the right place 'will' cause this issue. There's a 2 part fix but you may only need to implement one of them. Remedy 1: taller, narrower frets. Remedy 2: finger placement slightly farther back towards the nut (a problem if you have big fingers). You shouldn't have to push down any harder than normal but if there's not enough room or your fretting too far forward you will have trouble.
It's highly unlikely that 'all' the upper frets are not seated tightly.


The two guitars are exactly same model, they just have different pickups just.  I'd say the guitar that plays properly has similar frets but not the exact same.  They looks different profile to me.

Your suggestion of taller narrower frets:

the frets are jumbo so height isn't an issue, in fact I may actually prefer a little lower to feel more of the finger board beneath me as I've another axe (nearly the same as this guitar only it's a bolt on neck version) and it's frets are a bit lower and it feels a lot slicker and faster to play, where as the guitar with the problem feels like rail road sleepers for frets.  The idea of narrower frets is something I have actually thought of because I don't have big hands, or sorry big/long fingers, I have short fingers and they are a bit chunky and to me it feels as though manoeuvrability is poor because the frets are too broad at the upper end, so Narrow frets at that end of the neck might be a good idea.

Although the guitar which is the exact same (bar the pickups), has these fat frets also and allows me to play the legato licks integral to my style of playing without this problem of applying silly amount of pressure.

Would narrower frets help that guitar too?  Probably, although that is something I can put up with, however it's an improvement that might be worth doing some day.

I think the narrower frets will help the problem guitar, but I have to take it back to the luthier and see what he says.  Surely he can copy the working guitar and do what he needs to do using that as a template?  It's a really bizarre issue.  The guitar hasn't been played a lot BTW, when I bought it, it was unplayed.  I've only started playing it this year myself as I hadn't got around to modding it the way I wanted.

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"whadda ya want? we want Heavy Metal"

Guitars:1986 Westone Dimension IV, 1989 Korean Squier Fat Strat Silver Series, 1998 Korean Squier Fat Strat, MIM Fender Fat Strat - FR, Squier Stagemaster Deluxe - Thru Neck x 2, Squier Stagemaster 22 Fret - 1st Gen, 1999 Squier Showmaster - Anniversary Edition, Squier Showmaster, Tokai FV40 Flying V

Effects:  Ada Mp1, Peavey Rockmaster, Boss GX700 Boss SX700 * Amps:   Rocktron Velocity 300 - Harley Benton GPA400
Cabs: 4 x Bugera 2 x 12"

rabidgerry

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Re: Upper frets issue
« Reply #9 on: Time Format »

I have a bad feeling the guy is going to say it can't be fixed!
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"whadda ya want? we want Heavy Metal"

Guitars:1986 Westone Dimension IV, 1989 Korean Squier Fat Strat Silver Series, 1998 Korean Squier Fat Strat, MIM Fender Fat Strat - FR, Squier Stagemaster Deluxe - Thru Neck x 2, Squier Stagemaster 22 Fret - 1st Gen, 1999 Squier Showmaster - Anniversary Edition, Squier Showmaster, Tokai FV40 Flying V

Effects:  Ada Mp1, Peavey Rockmaster, Boss GX700 Boss SX700 * Amps:   Rocktron Velocity 300 - Harley Benton GPA400
Cabs: 4 x Bugera 2 x 12"
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