How to POLISH metal frets (it is a GV Rubio model)

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

How to POLISH metal frets (it is a GV Rubio model)

Post by cn90 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:03 pm

The metal frets look "dull".

Does anyone know how to polish the frets so they look nice like this? ... 000937.jpg

I have heard people using fine steelwool but I want to check with the experts here.

Thanks :)

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Post by Michael.N. » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:14 pm

The finest steel wool will work but it is a bit messy, requires a bit of a clean up job afterwards. For the final buffing I use a polishing compound and a piece of leather. The compound is the type used by woodworkers for honing the final edge on cutting tools - looks like a creamy paste type substance and is dispensed in a lipstick like holder. Avoid creams or liquid type polishes that may mar the surface of the fretboard.
Unfortunately we are fighting a losing battle, given time they will only become dull again.


Post by Whogo » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:29 am


If you'll go to your local hardware store and pick up "oooo" steel wool, that will work just fine. Although it is okay to use it on the fretboard as well as the frets, I don't want any of those tiny parallel scratch marks on the board along the frets, so I tear off two pieces of masking tape, place them on either side of the fret, make anywhere from 18-24 passes along the fret, then move the pieces of tape to the next one until I'm done. Your frets will look marvelous when you're done. May take you fifteen minutes tops.

I read about this method years ago on some website, and have used it on beater guitars as well as fine concert guitars with no problems. Michael.N. is right--there is a little cleanup involved, but it amounts to basically holding the guitar over a large trash can and blowing the tiny pieces of steel wool into it. You might even use a shop vac if you have one. Then you can use the tape to pick up any remianing pieces you spot on the board.

Best of luck,


Post by MarkJ » Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:12 am

Another option is to polish the frets with Micromesh - it is sort of like very fine sandpaper on fabric backing. Stringsbymail carries sample packs of small sheets from 3,200 to 12,000 grit. Use each grit in turn (I wrap the micromesh around a rubber eraser). The final 12,000 grit will give you a mirror-like shine and there is no mess or stray iron fibers to deal with


Post by Whogo » Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:55 am


That method sounds great--I'll have to try that one as well. There's always more than one way to. . . .


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Post by James Lister » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:08 am

Just a tip on the micromesh - it's a bit expensive, but works really well, and can last for years - if you're careful with it. When polishing frets, be careful not to snag the micromesh on the fret ends, as this can tear the abrasive off the cloth backing.

James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK


Thanks, I used " -0000" - steelwool

Post by cn90 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:31 pm

Using a very small piece (2 x 2 cm) of "0000" steelwool from hardware store:
- sit in the dry whirlpool and hold the guitar upside down so any steelwool fragments would fall down by gravity (rather than on the guitar itself (This was Brune's advice).......After all said and done I just pour some water in the whirlpool and all the steelwool fragments are gone......

- For each fret, a few GENTLE strokes along TOP of the fret itself, taking care not to scrub the fingerboard. ALso slightly polish the SIDES along the frets.

- Using a damp cloth I cleaned the fingerboard from yucky stuff TWICE.

The frets are now gorgeous!!!! Thanks for all the help.


Post by Whogo » Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:45 am


Dan Kellaway

Post by Dan Kellaway » Sat Jun 23, 2007 11:54 am

First I get all the scratches out of the fingerboard with wet an dry about 600. Then I coat the board with a paste made with beeswax which is first grated into a bottle, then covered with Gum turps from the art supply, then heated in a double boiler until the beeswax melts into the turps. When this cools it becomes a sweet smelling paste. When applied to ebony it fills the pores with beeswax. You can then buff the board, frets and all with Brasso and the beeswax will prevent the brasso from going into the pores of the wood which otherwise would later turn white when it dried.
If the board is already nicely polished I mask off the wood with masking tape and then polish the frets with 600 wet and dry, then brasso, before removing the tape, treating with beeswax and buffing the whole lot.
I also include one other step in between the wet and dry and the brasso, which is to run an arkansaw stone with oil over the frets to take the smallest inaccuracy out that may have crept in with the sanding and cross filing processes.
This gives the top of each fret a small even flat spot which I find beautiful for clarity and intonation.

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Post by Jim Kirby » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:00 am

I'm a micromesh fan here too. If you get one of the sets of multiple grits from Stew-Mac or LMI, you can use the whole range up to 12,000 grit and get a very pretty polish, and the abrasive sheets will last a long time.
Jim Kirby

Guitars? Heh, I can hardly play, and when I do it's one of mine.

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