Guitar Mods: Scalloped Fretboard

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Although scalloped fretboards aren’t as common as they once were, it is still a worthy customization if you’re looking to make bends and lead techniques a bit quicker and easier. Scalloping a fretboard basically entails sanding a deep curve between each fret (as shown in the image to the right) in order to reduce the friction between the fingers and the wood.

Although scalloped frets help promote good technique and allow for much better vibrato, it can cause less experienced players to have problems trying to play in tune. Also, you won’t be able to feel the wood underneath your finger as you hold down a fret – something that will definitely take getting used to.


Suffice it to say that this is a pretty divisive modification that comes down to what you’re willing to deal with. Either way, it is still a popular modification that is used by several pros such as Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen.

All you will need is pretty much two different kinds of sand paper. 80 and 150 grit sandpaper is a good choice as you basically need something that can dig in deep and then a finer paper to smooth it all out once you’re done. Also, is should be obvious that this is a permanent modification and you will not be able to go back, so just a heads up.

After you remove the strings, you may want to apply masking tape on the fret pegs themselves so that you won’t damage them while sanding the neck – trust me, sometimes even a small scratch on the fret can cause a string to stick while trying to bend, killing your vibrato. You can start off by sanding the fret down about 1/16 of an inch. You are basically trying to sand down each fret deep enough so that it enhances your vibrato and your fingers don’t hit the wood. Remember to be conservative at first since there is no going back.

If you need a little more, try another 1/32 of an inch with the finer sand paper. Again, don’t go too deep too fast – you don’t want to go all the way into the truss rod, believe me. Do the same with all of the frets; use the higher grit paper until you get in to the proper depth and then use the finer paper to smooth it out. The neck will look like freshly exposed wood so if you want to bring the color back to its normal finish, add some oil to that fretboard but even if you don’t the natural oils from your hand will restore the color with enough play.

2 thoughts on “Guitar Mods: Scalloped Fretboard”

  • Kevin

    Good Lawd, talk about ruining a guitar, at least suggest swapping out the neck, if possible, to save the original guitar.
    As a collector, I find these type of mods ridiculous.

  • Kev

    How to ruin a good guitar in hours, at least the neck should be swapped to keep the original guitar intact.. As a collector, these sort of mods are poison.

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