Guitar fret tool

Guitar fret tool DEFAULT


Our Fret Crowning Tool is suitable for most sizes of fret wire (see webstore for recommended use) - it doesn't chatter, restores roundness and is a comfortable, easy to use fret dressing tool.



After fret levelling, the frets should be rounded over to reduce the flat areas of the crown. This is essential for good intonation.  

Crowning the very top centre of the fret though should be avoided. The tools original design features a concave contact face and incorporates a gap at the centre that ensures this is easily accomplished.


When pressure is applied during use, the corners of the fret are rounded by the emery but abrasive pressure on the the crown is prevented.



Emery is the preferred abrasive for final finishing and lapping of metal surfaces requiring high precision and smooth surface finish. Emery is less aggressive than diamond but has excellent polishing characteristics. It is recognised as the best abrasive for finishing and polishing of special metals by engineers and jewellery makers. Perfect for Fret Crowning!.

Method of use can be adapted to individual preference and particular fret conditions. In general the tool is used as follows:


A length of the emery is folded and fed through the tool so that a small amount protrudes from underneath the fret crowning tool as shown below.  The emery can be trimmed neatly and separated with the aid of the small shim provided. This can be repeated as required and is favourable for narrower frets.

Alternatively, the emery can be folded around the sides as it becomes worn. This is more suited for wider frets.

The tool can be rolled to the sides during passes over the fret however this willl be subject to adequate protection of the fretboard.

​​The frets should be levelled before crowning. The photograph below shows levelled frets with excessive flat areas on the tops prior to crowning. Pre-marking the frets with a permanent pen is an ideal method for checking the fret dressing progress.



​As the emery becomes smoother the fret can be polished with the same fret crowning abrasive.

When fresh/coarser abrasive is required, new emery can be fed out.


If preferred, instead of fully tightening the screws each time, they can be left semi-tight to allow the abrasive to be easily pulled out whilst still maintaining grip on the abrasive during use.


The photo below shows the same frets after crowning.



The tool also makes an excellent job of dressing the fret ends!.


Guitar Setup Tools for the DIY-er

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Last Updated: July 18, 2021

In a previous article, I showed you just what’s involved in a guitar setup.

However, if you’re reading this, then I bet you’re considering doing your own guitar setups. Maybe you’re sick of always paying someone else and then being without your guitar for weeks while it’s in the shop. Or, perhaps you just want to set up your axe exactly how you like it.

Whatever the reason, if you’re serious about giving your guitar a proper setup, there are some basic guitar setup tools you’ll need in order to do it right. There are also a few specialized (and really cool) tools you can add to your arsenal as you gain experience.

Investigating a weird buzz on an Ibanez Edge Pro 7 bridge

Me trying to isolate the source of a mystery buzz on a floating trem. My magnification visor helps me see those tiny spaces.

You don’t need everything on this page.

That’s why I’ve broken the page into 3 main sections. Use the “The Essential Tools” list to make sure you have the basic toolset you’ll need to get started working on your own guitars. Use the other 2 lists to gradually add some “nice to have” specialty tools as needed, such as if you start doing setups for other people.

Guitar Setups: The Essential Tools

These guitar setup tools represent the minimum core toolset I would recommend if you’re on a budget but serious about doing basic setups on your own guitar. You’ll be glad to know they’re inexpensive, not highly specialized, and you may even have many of these already.

TUSK Tapered Feeler Gauge Set

Tapered Feeler Gauge Set
Feeler gauges are handy for checking and setting neck relief and other guitar measurements. I use this TUSK set because the tapered tips are better for tight spaces, and I like that this 32-gauge set goes from a paper-thin 0.001″ (0.03mm) all the way up to .040″ (1.00mm).

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Measuring guitar pickup height

Precision Ruler – Metric and Imperial
Setup-related measurements are very small, so you’ll need a precision ruler that reads measurements as small as 64ths or 1/2mm. The one pictured here is the actual ruler I use (that’s my guitar in the pic). It’s cheap, highly accurate, and has both inches and millimeters.

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CruzTools Guitar String Cutters

String Cutters (Side Cutters)
You’ll need a decent set of string cutters (or side cutters) with a hardened edge for cutting guitar strings. I like these CruzTools cutters because they’re reasonably priced, spring-loaded, and hold their edge.

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Dunlop Deluxe Guitar Stringwinder

String Winder
Twisting tuning pegs by hand sucks, so get a proper string winder. The cheap ones like this are a dime-a-dozen on Amazon and just about any basic winder like this will dramatically speed up your string changes.

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Snark SN-5 Tuner for Guitar, Bass and Violin

Guitar Tuner
It may go without saying that you need a guitar tuner, but I’ll say it anyway. You can buy a physical tuner like the one shown here, or use one of the free tuners available for smartphones. Low-priced tuners like this one are fine for general tuning, but not adequate for setting intonation. For that, you’ll need a strobe tuner (see next section below).

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Planet Waves NS Pro Guitar Capo

You’ll need a capo to perform the “string-and-capo” method of measuring and setting neck relief. There are other ways to check neck relief, but the string-and-capo method will work fine for most people in most situations.

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Truss Rod Wrench
If you don’t have the truss rod wrench that came with your guitar, you’ll need to buy one to adjust the relief (forward/backward bow) of your guitar’s neck. There are a few different types and sizes, so be sure to buy the correct wrench for your guitar’s truss rod bolt. Here are two examples (but not guaranteed to fit your guitar):

See Truss Rod Wrenches on Amazon

Tools for Guitar Setups

Other Basic Tools You’ll Need
Depending on whether you have an acoustic or electric guitar, and what kind of hardware your guitar has, there are other basic tools that you may need. In general, I’ve found that having a couple Phillips screwdrivers and a hex key set to be invaluable:

  • #0 Phillips screwdriver: for smaller screws like those used for tuning pegs, saddle intonation, cavity covers, etc.
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver: for bigger screws, like guitar neck screws or the tremolo-claw screws.
  • Hex keys (a.k.a. allen wrenches): for hex bolts used in electric guitar saddles, locking nut pressure pads, or wherever else your guitar has hex bolts. Double-check whether you need standard or metric for your guitar.

Guitar Setups: Intermediate Tools

Now we start getting into the good stuff! Already have a core set of guitar setup tools, but want to take things further? Maybe you want to start doing setups for others. If that’s the case, you’ll need a few extra (or more specialized) tools so you can be prepared for the different guitar types and setup issues you’ll encounter.

Music Nomad Cradle Cube Neck Support

Guitar Neck Support
You’ll eventually need a proper guitar neck support, since roughly 75% of the work you’ll do requires the guitar to be flat on its back. Having a neck support frees both your hands without worry of the guitar falling or sliding around.

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Peterson StroboPlus HD Guitar Strobe Tuner

Strobe Tuner
Cheap chromatic tuners are fine for general tuning. However, to accurately set intonation you need a tuner that’s accurate to within +/- 0.1 cents or better, and that’s where strobe tuners come in. I use the Peterson HD Strobe Tuner shown here, and I love it. It’s an incredible value for the price, considering how expensive strobe tuners can be.

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The Music Nomad Premium Guitar Tech Screwdriver and Wrench Set
StewMac String Action Gauge

String Action Gauge
Made specifically for guitar work, the progressive string height scale makes it a lot easier to see the individual string heights. It’s a precision-cut piece of stainless steel, so the short edge can even be used as a fret rocker in a pinch. Choose inches or metric.

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Guitar Knob Puller for press-on style guitar knobs

Guitar Knob Puller
If you’ve got a press-on guitar knob that’s being stubborn, this ingenious (and inexpensive) little tool will pop it right off… easily and safely. Simply slide it under the knob, secure the tension ring, and gently pull up. Done! Works on standard speed knobs, bell knobs, and Strat-style knobs that are of the press-on variety.

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StewMac 18" Precision Straightedge

18″ Precision Straightedge
If you’re ready to move beyond the string-and-capo method of checking neck relief, then use what I use: an 18″ precision straightedge. I actually find it easier and faster to just grab this than to try and use the capo method.

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Notched straightedge for checking neck relief

Notched Straightedge
A notched straightedge fits over the frets so that it rests directly on the fretboard rather than on top of the frets. This avoids any irregularities in frets that might throw off your relief measurement. If you suspect a high fret somewhere or your frets are pretty worn, use this to set neck relief instead of a normal straightedge. Each straightedge comes notched for two different scale lengths, so be sure you buy the correct one for your guitar’s neck.

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DeoxIT D5 Spray Electrical Contact Cleaner

DeoxIT Electrical Contact Cleaner
This is the miracle spray you’ll use to fix any cracks, pops, or scratches you hear when you move your guitar’s knobs and switches. Assuming your electronics are otherwise good, DeoxIT will clean out whatever is causing noisy electronics.

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Lubricating the string slots on a guitar's nut

Big Bends Ultra Nut Sauce Guitar Lubricant
A little dab of this in each string slot of your guitar’s nut is often enough to fix most tuning problems (assuming your nut is in good shape). It’s also a great lubricant for truss rod nuts, string saddles, Floyd Rose knife edges, and more.

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Drill Bit String Winder

Drill Bit String Winder
Speed up your string changes dramatically with this cool little string winder. It fits just like a drill bit in any cordless screwdriver. I recommend only using it with a cordless screwdriver, not drills. Drills can spin too fast and potentially strip the gears in tuning pegs.

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Music Nomad Premium Instrument Work Mat

Guitar Setups: Advanced Tools

Oh yeah, now we’re getting into guitar repair-nerd territory! If you’re buying from THIS list, then you’ve decided that you’re all-in. Maybe you’re doing setups on your friend’s guitars or have moved on to doing it as a business.

Grizzly guitar nut file set

Nut Slotting Files
Part of a perfect setup is making sure that your nut’s string slots are the correct depth and shape. For that, you need a proper set of nut slotting files. I own the Grizzly files shown/linked here, as well as nut files by Stewart MacDonald. Just be sure you buy the correct size for your specific string gauges. These come in handy for string saddle work too.

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StewMac Understring Radius Gauge
Floyd Rose bridge saddle shims

Bridge Saddle Shims
The radius of your bridge saddles should match the radius of your fretboard. But what if you have a Floyd Rose (or similar) bridge, where the saddles aren’t height-adjustable? Bridge saddle shims to the rescue! Stack these little shims under the saddles until you’ve achieved the desired radius.

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Guitar Neck Pocket Shims by StewMac

Guitar Neck Pocket Shims
Sometimes you need to alter a bolt-on neck’s angle to achieve a consistent string height over the entire fretboard. These shims are precision-sanded to ensure a precise angle. They maintain full-contact between the neck’s heel and the guitar’s body, unlike sticking pieces of plastic and credit cards in your neck pocket. These are also available as blanks, so you can cut them exactly to your desired size.

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StewMac Luthier's Digital Caliper
Head mount optical magnification visor with headlamp

Magnification Visor with Headlamp
Even if you have perfect vision, some guitar parts are just too small to see well without some magnification and a little extra light. This magnification visor is the one I use. It comes with 5 magnification lenses, a built-in headlamp, and optional elastic strap. I almost always have this on my head whenever I’m working on guitars. Best of all, it’s less than $20 on Amazon.

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StewMac Ball Bearing Guitar Nut and Saddle Sander by Heart Sound

Ball Bearing Guitar Nut & Saddle Sander
To lower the action on an acoustic guitar, you need to sand the underside of the bridge saddle and/or nut. However, it’s hard to apply even pressure and keep things square when sanding by hand. This cool tool holds the saddle perfectly square while you roll it over sandpaper on a flat surface.

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StewMac Fret Rocker Tool

Fret Rocker Tool
You’ll use this 4-sided precision straightedge to pinpoint pesky high frets that are causing fret buzz. By spanning 3 frets at a time, it “rocks” on high or uneven frets. The StewMac rocker is precision machined for accuracy, so beware all the cheaper Chinese imitations on Amazon.

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The Erlewine neck jig for guitar fretwork by StewMac

StewMac Erlewine Neck Jig
Technically, this isn’t a “setup” tool per se, but it’s just too cool not to include here. This neck jig has been on my wish list for years. If you plan to do a lot of fretwork or fingerboard work, this neck jig takes a lot of human error (and gravity) out of the equation, allowing a much higher level of accuracy when leveling frets or fingerboards.

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Need to Learn How to do Setups?

Do you need some help setting up your guitar or bass? If so, check out this series of fun, easy-to-follow guides that’ll help you get your guitar or bass set up and playing its best.

Sketchy Setups - Great Guitar Setups, Easy Peasy

Learn More About Sketchy Setups


Do you have any cool tools or gadgets you use for guitar setups? Or, maybe you’re just getting started with this stuff and want to know more. Let me know in the comments section down below!

  1. 3900x overclock
  2. Mylanta side effects
  3. Hot bread menu
  4. Remix music dj

The Art Of Lutherie now has a podcast on iTunes!

It’s a great way to enjoy our newest videos on topics to help you live your passion for guitar making and build better guitars. Use the link below to check it out on iTunes to get other episodes, leave a review, and subscribe!
Find The Art Of Lutherie iTunes Podcast Here: The Art Of Lutherie Podcast

10 Awesome Tools To Supercharge Your Guitar Fret Installation

The Fret Tools I use And Recommend

Welcome to This edition of the Art Of Lutherie Podcast! In this episode, I show you my 10 favorite tools for fret installation in a video clip taken from my online guitar making course Fretwork Mastery Part 1. In this podcast I also share some of my personal experiences, stories, and encouragement about overcoming the stumbling blocks that tried to hold me back from building my first guitar and from stepping out to improve the guitars I was already building. I hope you’ll find this podcast useful, encouraging, and inspiring to help you move forward and overcome those negative voices in your life that are trying to hold you back. All of us here at The Art Of Lutherie and the Luthier’s EDGE are cheering you on, so go for it, you can do it!

Video Podcast Resources:

Here are the links to my favorite Fret Installation tools that I featured in the podcast video and a couple extra:

  1. Dead Blow Fret Hammer
  2. Fret Slot Cleaning Tools
  3. Precision Ruler 16r
  4. Radius Sanding Beams and Blocks
  5. Fret Barber Tool
  6. Streight Edge Tool
  7. Fret Press
  8. Cyno Glue – *Medium Viscosity
  9. Small Fret File
  10. Fret Beveling Tool
  11. Fret Tang Nippers
  12. Fret crowning file
  13. Fret Saw

The Art Of Lutherie Podcast E3

TRUE Review of Fret Zealot LED Guitar Learning System (Guitar Teaching Tool)

Guitar String Spreaders: allows you to move the strings off the fretboard and hold them while you work on the frets or fretboard, making the repair, set up and cleaning project more convenient and high effective. Guitar Fret Crowning Luthier File: made of stainless steel, with same filing size on both 2 edges, narrow fret crowning file after leveling. Ergonomic rubber handle for comfortable holding, makes it very efficient and time saving for dressing the fret wire. Guitar Fingerboard Guard Protectors: protecting your guitar or bass fretboard from scratching or damaging while filing and ing. You Deserve To Have: a great addition to your guitar maintainence kit for sanding or ing. perfect gift for most guitarists, bass players, luthiers. Colour:Photo Color Material:stainless steel Package Contents: 1 x Fret Crowning Luthier File 1 x Fret Sanding Leveler Beam 1 x Fret Rocker 2 x String Spreader 2 x Fingerboard Guard 4 x Replacement sanding paperOnly the above package content, other products are not included. Note: Light shooting and different displays may cause the color of the item in the picture a little different from the real thing. The measurement allowed error is +/- 1-3cm.


Fret tool guitar

Guitar Repair Tools Guide [Purchase List – 2020]

Guitar Electronics Repair Tools

If you’ve never experienced any electrical issues with your guitar, then you’ve probably just started playing yesterday…which is fine, but it’s going to help you out tremendously to know how to diagnose these issues.

Ground humming, output popping, crackling potentiometers, and complete silence are just a few of the problems you’re bound to encounter. Luckily, they don’t require too much to fix apart from a bit of knowledge and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

A guitar’s electrical circuit, passive or active, will NOT cause any bodily harm if you mess up, so don’t worry. An amplifier, however, will kill you…and are much more complex anyway.

There’s an added bonus that comes with learning how to repair your guitar’s electronics – you’ll also be able to install new pickups and perform modifications to your circuit (alternate wiring schemes, treble bleeds and capacitors, pot upgrades, etc).

Essential Fretting Tool Kit


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