How to Roll the Edges of a Guitar Fingerboard

Written by donald kornfeind
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How to Roll the Edges of a Guitar Fingerboard
Rolling a fingerboard edge affects how a guitar feels in a player's hand. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Rolling the edges of a guitar fingerboard affects how the instrument feels in a player's hand, giving it a used, worn feeling. It refers to hand shaping a round-over of a fingerboard's squared edges. The guitarist's personal preference determines how much rolling should be done. A fingerboard consists of hardwood veneer in which frets are fitted. Rolling removes a small amount of wood, so it's necessary to bevel the fret ends at the same time to match the new edge contour and maintain smoothness along the fingerboard's length.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • 3-inch-high support block
  • White pencil
  • 500 grit sandpaper
  • Triangle file
  • 0000 steel wool
  • Fingerboard oil

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  1. 1

    Stabilise the guitar on its back by positioning the support block under the neck to prevent tipping.

  2. 2

    Loosen the first and sixth strings, but don't remove them. Relocate them from their nut slots to adjacent nut slots.

  3. 3

    Draw a line with the white pencil on each edge of the fingerboard within each fret space to highlight the wood you'll remove while rolling the edges.

    Rolling the Edges

  1. 1

    Sand one fretboard edge within in the first fret space until the white line is not visible. Inspect the contour for evenness as it forms by feeling it with your fingers.

  2. 2

    Sand and inspect the edge in each of the subsequent fret spaces. Proceed along the length of the fingerboard until the entire edge is rolled.

  3. 3

    Sand and inspect the opposite edge. Begin sanding in the first fret space, then continue down the length of the fingerboard until the entire edge is rolled.


  1. 1

    File the fret protrusions flush with the newly contoured fingerboard edge, using the triangle file. File a 70- to 80-degree bevel on the fret crown above the fingerboard.

  2. 2

    Polish the fingerboard edges and newly bevelled frets by sanding with the 0000 steel wool.

  3. 3

    Rub one drop of fingerboard oil in each fret space of the fingerboard to recondition the wood.

  4. 4

    Realign the first and sixth strings in their respective nut slots and tune to pitch.

Tips and warnings

  • Work slowly, removing wood gradually.
  • Repeat the rolling steps if additional contour is preferred.
  • Inspect progress regularly.
  • Rolling is a non-reversible procedure.
  • Rolling and fret bevelling may cause strings to fall off the fingerboard when bent.

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