I purchased a new Fender Telecaster about a week ago. After sitting it in my guitar rack next to my Strat and Les Paul, I never realized just how much oxidation had built up on the frets of the latter two guitars over the years.
A common practice to take care of this is taping over the fretboard wood or fabricating homemade fret templates, then using #0000 steel wool on the frets themselves. That’s always seemed pretty dangerous to me, especially if not done using great care. It’s also a major pain in the ass.
For example, it takes forever to tape off a 22-fret neck. Compounding this, like any other guitar you’re always working with different spaces between frets, so you’d better have a pretty precise way of cutting that tape. The tape or homemade template better wind up right on the fret edges, or you can easily scratch the fretboard and surrounding wood.
Screw that… Once again, it’s Music Nomad to the rescue!
I bought their “FRINE Fret Polishing Kit” for $17.99 from Amazon and, like everything else from Music Nomad, it’s a great quality product that truly stands behind its claims.
Included is everything you need to make your frets like new again:
- FRINE petroleum-free polish, designed to clean and polish all frets safely and quickly.
- 3 GRIP Fretboard Guards (for small, medium and jumbo fret slot sizes), that keep your hands from getting in the way and contour of the fretboard.
- An 8″ x 6″ microfiber suede cloth that’s machine washable, and specially designed to work with FRINE Fret Polish.
- A nice little storage container to keep everything tucked away.
Here’s a little review of my experience with this product
I decided to use this kit on a Gibson Les Paul Studio guitar, which had its frets untouched since I purchased it in 2006, and a lot of playing under its belt.
As you can see, the medium fretboard guard fit the frets perfectly. Also note that, while protecting the wood, the guard leaves just the right amount of room to polish all four sides of the fret.
All you need do is to put a drop or two of the polish on the included cloth, apply a little elbow grease to remove the gunk and oxidation across the fret, then turn the cloth over and buff.
By the way, there’s no worries if a little polish winds up on the fretboard. The compound is so fine, you can just gently wipe it away without any damage whatsoever to the wood.
I thought this particular guitar would surely require two applications on each fret, since they had been neglected for so long. Nope, one pass on each using this kit made them sparkle.
The bottom four frets in the next photo have been cleaned and polished. Compare them to the remaining frets above… Wow, what a difference.
Here’s just a small sample of the oxidation and gunk it removed, one of four napkins that I used to wipe the fret guard between the cleaning of each fret.
Finally, here’s a look at the guitar with all frets cleaned, and a new set of Ernie Ball Slinky strings installed.
It took a total of about 45 minutes to clean all 22 frets. Now, compare that to the time you’d spend using one of the steel wool methods.
The frets look brand-spanking new again. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the difference, and the short amount of time the entire process took.
Most importantly, playing vibratos and bends is now effortless.
There’s not a doubt in my mind, I’m going to be using this kit on all of my guitars, every single time I change strings.
But wait, now I’ve got a new problem…
After this fret and general guitar cleaning, new strings and set-up, I placed the Les Paul back into my guitar rack. For those who may be unfamiliar, from left-to-right is my Strat (also cleaned with this kit), my new Telecaster, and finally the Les Paul I’ve been using for this review.
Compare the frets on the Strat and Les Paul to the Tele. They look better than the brand-new guitar! Maybe it’s the maple fretboard on the Tele, not as much contrast as the rosewood on the Strat and Les Paul. Or, maybe this is just one amazing fucking product.
Ask yourself this: Is 18 bucks worth sparkling smooth frets, while guaranteeing the protection of the fretboard on your guitar?
Here’s a demo of the kit from the Music Nomad web site. The result here speaks for itself, as it certainly did on my guitars.
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You may also be interested in another excellent Music Nomad product that I had previously reviewed, which makes all sorts of guitar maintenance a breeze: