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In this article, we describe a custom build of a Monterey Pop Festival Stratocaster replica. The process is documented in HD as much as possible, starting with the disassembly of a used Squier strat to the finished replica. This guitar is built strictly for personal use and is not for sale.
In this video we filmed fret leveling and dressing
All repair and setup articles on this website are provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind.. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the information is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Bluesmannus be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered in the course of using the information on this site. If you are not sure you can do this you are safer leaving the process to a professional. - Bluesmannus Team
Mark the top of the frets with a permanent marker so the tops ar all black. This will help you see where the frets are unleveled once you start sanding with the leveling rod. One other important thing to do is take out the nut prior to this and adjust the neck perfectly straight using the truss rod adjustment. More on this topic here.
Once the frets are leveled, it's time for making the tops of the frets round again. This is a process called fret dressing. More on this topic here. In short, using a special fret file you file the frets round again untill there is onla a thin line of marker left on top of the frets. Use masking tape to protect the rosewood as the file can damage the wood if it slips, and believe us this happens no matter how careful you are.
Next is fret polishing. For this step you usually need to tape off the entire fretboard except for the frets, but for this project the rosewood was in bad shape and damaged in a few places so we went with sanding the rosewood along with the frets to restore it and smooth it out. More on this process here. You basicaly go progresively sandind with 320grit, then 600, 1000, 1500 grit, and finally wqith the finest steel wool for that mirror shine.
When you're done and everything is nice and polished, you need to clean the fretboard using naphta or lighter fluid.
On this guitar the rosewood was originally very light brown and we wanted a dark fretboard so we gave it a coat od ebony stain. Apply the stain on the rosewood, let it sit for a while to let sink into the wood, and wipe clean with a clean dry rag.
With this final step, the fretboard is fully restored.