After you buy a guitar, it's ideal to be able to tinker away at it to improve its playability in the years after purchase. One of the ways that you can accomplish this goal is to file down the ends of the frets if they're uncomfortable in your hand. Ideally, the frets of the instrument should be flush with the edges of the fingerboard. Over time, however, the wood of the fingerboard can shrink slightly, and that can result in the metal frets sticking out and jabbing into your hand. Although you can take the guitar to a retailer that has a repair department, you also have the option of doing the job yourself. Here's how to proceed if you want to give this project a try.
Tape Up the Instrument First
Before you begin the process of filing the frets, get yourself a roll of painting tape. Cut small strips of the tape and place them on the fingerboard so that the wood is completely covered but the frets are exposed. Make sure that each strip of tape is long enough to be wrapped over the edge of the fingerboard. The tape will prevent you from inadvertently gouging the fingerboard with your file. If you're doing this job on an electric guitar, place tape over the pickups to prevent tiny metal filings off the frets from sticking to the magnets in the pickups.
File the Frets
Many guitar retailers also sell tools for working on your guitar, so look for a kit that contains fret files. Rub your hand along the edges of the fingerboard to find frets that stick out and then file them smooth. Start with the roughest file first, moving from the top to the bottom of the fret, and then use a finer fret to smooth out the edge. Continue this technique for each of the frets that needs attention. This is not overly challenging, but doing a thorough job will require a bit of time.
Complete the Job
When you believe that you've addressed each of the problematic frets, slide your hand up and down the fingerboard several times to make sure each of the fret ends is smooth. Taking time to carefully inspect your job now, rather than one you remove the tape, will save you plenty of time. When you believe the job is done correctly, carefully pick off the tape, and you'll have a guitar that is much more enjoyable to play.
For more help with instruments, visit a shop such as Mike's Brass & Woodwind.