One of the things that often comes up in talking about getting the set up right on a bass is fret dressing, or polishing. There are two times this should happen to a bass:
- Before it leaves the factory.
- If the frets become overly worn from use (usually years of use).
Many of the low cost basses I have seen over recent years have been let down on the fret dressing front – sharp edges to the side of the fretboard and uneven frets turn a bass from a joy to a torment. It is an important finishing touch, but more on that in a moment. If you followed the comments on setting string height and adjusting your action, you’ll have seen that fellow reader Sekou’s fret buzz problem was cured by a good fret dressing. It is generally the last resort in sorting out a bass, but it can become necessary after a number of years of playing. Obviously a job best left to a professional, getting it wrong will ruin your bass, but it shouldn’t be too expensive.
“Part of our tour of the Lakland Bass factory included an engaging little spot on fret polishing. Julia Child would be proud of Matt the Polisher, as he makes this skilled task look so easy anyone could do it at home… given the proper tools, skills, and a nice bass neck to work on.”
Update: A follow up post on Gearwire shows the Plek machine in action. The Plek machine is a very cool computerise fret dresser used by Lakland and others: Plek Process.