Hi guys - Dogleg Steve here - firstly I hope that you have enjoyed the music and videos that I have posted on the site!

I play 4 string Cigar box in a picking style and want to have a go at building my own custom CBG this year and also later an electric guitar.

The thing that concerns me is the fretting of the fretboard - how to do it and how to do it accurately.

Any advice on procedure and tools to buy would be greatly appreciated from you master builders out there.

Thanks Guys - keep on picking (or sliding) !

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You can buy scale templet from CB Gitty easy to use and accurate hope that helps buddy . 

Thanks mate i will have a gander!

plenty of online fret calculators on the interwebs.. best to use a mm rule will be more accurate

http://www.ekips.org/tools/guitar/fretfind2d/     you can specify inch or mm scale length and number of strings. it will give you a list ofdistances from the nut for each fret.


I started out measuring using the stewmac fret calculation  web site then graduated to fretfind2d.

The one thing to be careful of with fretfind2d is that for me was that the PDFs it produces to print off can be distorted by the Adobe acrobat reader defaults. Check the settings are print 100% not scale to fit otherwise you can get a 605mm scale instead of a 625mm scale. Double check the nut to 12th fret measurement by doubling it. The scale is still an accurate scale just not the scale length you asked for, which can lead to head scratching and having to move the bridge if you didn't notice till after you cut it..

I graduated to a slight adaptation of this 


It works by using any pre-slotted fret board as a template. I didn't bother with the top sideways piece and cut the 90degree slot by hand as far as needed using a set square as a guide. The first one I  made was embarrassingly ugly but functional. 

That's good stuff thank you Titch I appreciate your reply

Hi Steve.

Your question really has two parts: First, how to accurately calculate fret positions for any give scale length and second, how to accurately mark those positions on a blank fret board.

There are many ways to do both of these tasks, but here is one I've used successfully for dozens of builds.

Calculation of fret positions: Use the attached spreadsheet. You enter your desired scale length and fret positions for 25 frets are calculated. The positions are calculated in both inches and milometers. I think using MM is the better choice for accuracy.

The second challenge is getting the fret positions accurately marked on the fret board. Here is a way that avoids errors.

1. Get an 18" stainless steel ruler that is marked in both inches and MM.
2. Tape the ruler to the edge of your fret board with the 0 MM position at the nut.
3. Use the "Distance from Nut" data from the spreadsheet to mark all fret positions. Use a shape pencil.

This procedure avoids the error of tolerance-stacking which measuring fret-to-fret can introduce. Secondly, since you are measuring in MM increments, you are very precise.

I've used this procedure a lot and it does help to take the stress out of marking fret positions. Just remember to go back and check each position a second time to be sure of your resuls


Thank you for your help Tom I appreciate it. And Many thanks for the Fret Calculator sheet.

Get one of these, with the metal template from Chicken Bone John; you cannot go wrong.


yes that looks good mate thank you!

Thanks for the endorsement!

Mostly good advice so far, 1 thing I'd add is, when cutting your slots after marking your board, make sure where you cut,[on the line, left of the line, right of the line etc.] is a constant, that will help in accuracy, a 1/2 a mm is not a big deal really, but if they start compounding, you can have intonation issues.


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