Most electric guitar frets are glued into the fret slots in the fretboard. The middle of the fret is held into the fretboard the strongest. The edges or ends of the frets are held into the fretboard the weakest because they have one edge exposed. Fret ends can come loose or dislodged from the fret slot for a variety of reasons. Dropping your guitar or hitting it up against your amp can cause the fret ends to be disrupted. You may also have twists in your neck that slowly work the frets out of the fret slots. No matter what the cause of the loose fret ends, they need to be fixed. Loose fret ends can cause buzzing and intonation problems. The loose frets can also get snagged on something and rip the rest of the fret out of the fret slot and damage the fretboard. Here are some basic steps to repairing loose fret ends on an electric guitar.
Take a hard object, like a piece of wood, and press on the fret ends. If any of the fret ends move when they are pressed on, take a sharpie marker and mark what end is loose.
Once you have identified and marked the loose fret ends, take a piece of #0000 steel wool and clean the fretboard and fret.
Put some Minwax on a piece of paper towel and rub it on the fretboard around the loose fret ends. The wax will prevent any glue used to secure the fret ends from drying and hardening on the fretboard.
Use a pipette to apply a small drop of thin super glue on both sides of the fret area where the fret meets the fretboard. I like to use Satellite City super glue, but you can use any super. Some frets may need to be pressed down in the fret slot and clamped why being glued. If a large portion of the fret is lifted out of the fret slot or is loose, you may want to clamp it down while gluing it in the fret slot. If the fret end is the only part of the fret that is loose, just glue the fret end in place. Don't worry about the fret being higher than the rest of the frets. You will level the top of the fret off when you dress it. Wait about 5 minutes to apply a second drop of super glue. DO NOT use super glue on a finished fretboard. The acetone-based glue can ruin the lacquer. If you have loose fret ends on a finished neck, use watered down wood glue and clamp the fret in place. I like to use Titebond wood glue. Please see my wood glue page for a guide on what glue to use for common guitar repairs.
Wait another 5 minutes and spray the area with super glue accelerator on an unfinished fretboard. The accelerator will harden the glue and speed up the drying time. Now use a dull chisel to clean away the excess super glue off the fretboard. You can also scrape the wax off the fretboard with a razor blade.
After you have clean the frets and fretboard, you are all ready to dress the frets. For more information about dressing electric guitar frets, see the electric guitar fret dress page After you are finished with your frets you can check out some online guitar lessons for beginners.