Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Planetwaves Fret Polishing System - works good!

Every guitar eventually ends up with frets that are dirty, dull or even rusty. This is at best unsightly, but it can also make playing harder because the strings can't slide along the frets as easily. There are a bunch of ways you can polish them up, from steel wool to a Dremel to just taking your guitar in to a tech who (hopefully) knows what he/she is doing better than you do. I've tried a few methods myself but today I want to talk about the one thing that really worked for me: D'addario's Planetwaves fret polishing system.

You'll notice that I'm working on my Scandal Haruna signature Telecaster. This is a cheap Indonesian guitar that obviously didn't go through a very good QA process, and mine had rusty frets right from the factory.

The Planetwaves system is basically just a few sheets of extremely fine-grit sand or fiber paper combined with a cutout cardboard fret guide to keep you from sanding your fretboard by mistake. Extremely simple, but that pleases my inner engineer. It also pleased my wallet, because the system costs about $5. It almost seems like something that cheap couldn't possibly be effective.

But it is! It may be a bit hard to see, but first, you should be able to make out that the left half of my frets above are mirror-like and silver, while the right half are still dull and brownish. Yep, I was about halfway done here. Also look at the paper - those black marks on it are rust from my frets.

This is the finished product. It's perfect! I really could not be happier with this system. It does restore your frets to a mirror shine as it says it will.

I later did the same to my Japanese Jazzmaster, which I play most often and its frets seem to dull quickly for that reason. It was a little harder to get them to a mirror shine, but I think that's because of the nature of their dullness, which is from tiny microscratches that accumulate through playing. This system seems to more easily handle dirt or rust than regular fret wear, although it did still help even on the Jazzmaster.

It does take some elbow grease. If you try this, don't give up after just wiping your frets a couple times. You really need to get in there and scrub back and forth vigorously. But the results can really be satisfying.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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