Steve A. 6/13/2014 12:31 AM
Guitar setup tips
I've been looking for information on the type and size of the frets I need to refret my 2009 PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollowbody. I was getting some banjo/sitar buzzing on my first string and I had thought it was because the bridge was tilted forward a little (but a lot more than you would expect!) After checking and leveling the frets on my three LTD EC-256 guitars I thought I better look at the PRS. Damn- I had worn down practically all of the frets from the D string up to the E string (yes, I do a lot of bending!) Under the E and A bass strings the frets were almost like new... While I still haven't found what fretwire I need to get (I want an exact match with the stock) I did run across this guide on setting up guitars: [url=http://mysite.verizon.net/jazz.guitar/guitarsetup.htm]Basic Guitar Setup Tips[/url] And here is the setup guide at the PRS site: [url=http://www.prsguitars.com/csc/faq.html]Customer Support Center | FAQ's[/url] Steve Ahola P.S. It's hard to search for "frets" with Google since so many guitars list the number of frets in their description. Anybody remember the Ask Jeeves search engine? You would pose a question and it would try to filter the hits down to the information you were looking for after parsing your question. I hardly ever used it and then it was gone. (I guess back then the search engines were rated on how many hits you'd get...)
 
rjb 6/13/2014 8:42 AM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;349527]Anybody remember the Ask Jeeves search engine? You would pose a question and it would try to filter the hits down to the information you were looking for after parsing your question.[/QUOTE] It is my recollection that you would pose a question and it would try to filter the hits down to sites selling something that *might* be vaguely related to your query.
 
potatofarmer 6/13/2014 9:31 AM
A quick search for "PRS fret wire" yielded a few hits that indicate it's not going to be easy to get an exact match. Here's the most useful: [url=http://prsguitars.com/forum/showthread.php?650-PRS-fretwire-question]PRS fretwire question[/url] For an exact match you might have to send it to these guys for a whopping $450: [url=http://www.prsguitars.com/ptc/]PRS Tech Center (PTC)[/url] Got a vernier caliper? You've gotta have a fret or two that are still good.
 
Slobrain 6/14/2014 10:32 AM
Hey Steve, I get my frets from Philadelphia luthier, they carry the Jescar fret wire and I have used a few different brands of wire doing refrets and the Jescar stuff seems to be a better wire and more consistent then the other stuff. PL will sell you a 24 piece wire of any size and radius needed. This makes refrets go much smoother imho. [url=http://www.philadelphialuthiertools.com/]Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies Guitar building tools and parts[/url]
 
tedmich 6/14/2014 10:44 AM
if its worth doing its worth SS, there is NO downside, IMHO. course if you have 38 other guitars you could probably use red vines ;)
 
olddawg 6/18/2014 10:58 PM
Personally, if it is a USA PRS, I would bite the bullet and send it to the factory. I would send an explanation that the guitar is under 5 years old and it is your favorite guitar. They might give you a break. There may have been a problem with that run. I would at least give them a call. Tell them you are a poor working musician.
 
Steve A. 6/19/2014 1:39 AM
[QUOTE=olddawg;350158]Personally, if it is a USA PRS, I would bite the bullet and send it to the factory.[/QUOTE] No, it is a PRS SE, their lower cost import made in Korea. Normally I rotate my guitars often enough to keep from wearing out the frets but this was my favorite guitar for gigging for about a year and a half. If I can't do a good job on the frets myself I have a friend who can bail me out. I will practice first on my junky old Epiphone Casino from 1994... Steve P.S. If it was a USA PRS I would do as you suggested.
 
Slobrain 6/19/2014 7:47 AM
[ATTACH=CONFIG]29331[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]29331[/ATTACH]Hey Steve, Philly tools sells the Jescar fret wire cut and radiused as you need it cheap. The Jescar wire is really good. As far as refretting, my first refret was a Squier strat neck and I learned well from it. To remove old frets I went to Harbor freight tools and bought a small pair of flush ground cutters and ground the face flat to get under the frets, I also heat each fret with a tip of a soldering iron to break the glue loose. if You definitely need the notched straight edge to make sure your neck is straight when refretting. There are some good Youtube videos to see how folks do this. [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/MusicianAtHeart-FRET-PULLERS-Guitar-Bass-Flush-Ground-Face-Luthier-Tool-/111380202679?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item19eec704b7]Musicianatheart Fret Pullers Guitar Bass Flush Ground Face Luthier Tool | eBay[/url] I also bought from Stew mac the fret press caul with different radiused brass inserts and then went to harbor freight and bought a 1/2 ton press and drilled out the shaft to insert the caul. I had to drill and thread a hex screw to lock the caul in. it works well for strat necks but doing a PRS you might want to buy fret jaws from Stew mac instead. I can tell you this, once I learned to refret a neck and did a few I really liked doing them. The thing I also do is change the radius of a strat neck from a 9.5 to a 12 to make them for favorable to my playing. I use the hotstuff superglue to lock the frets in. THen you need the files to radius the edges of the fretwire. Its tedious work but really rewarding to do. I changed a few Squier standard strat necks into some really good strat necks in the learning process. The most important thing to remember is the prep of the fretboard first getting it evenly radiused from one end to the other. The other part is getting a fret slot saw to make sure the fret slots will accommodate the new frets. You definitely need some tools to do a refret but once you put them together and get the refret experience you will want to probably refret another neck of one of your more cheaper guitars to make them play much better.
 
Slobrain 6/19/2014 7:55 AM
[ATTACH=CONFIG]29347[/ATTACH] Man I look old... its a fret press...tadaa
 
John_H 6/19/2014 8:44 AM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350160]... If it was a USA PRS I would do as you suggested.[/QUOTE] You probably won't say that after you've done a couple. It's pretty easy after a little practice.
 
dmartn149 6/19/2014 4:13 PM
If you can buy frets already shaped to the correct radius, that's the way to go. when I re-fretted my Charvel I found that to be the most difficult part. I had thought that they would take the shape of the fret board when I tapped them in, WRONG! I didn't buy any special tools, so it was rather tedious, but it came out really good and it plays great.
 
Slobrain 6/19/2014 10:10 PM
[QUOTE=dmartn149;350225]If you can buy frets already shaped to the correct radius, that's the way to go. when I re-fretted my Charvel I found that to be the most difficult part. I had thought that they would take the shape of the fret board when I tapped them in, WRONG! I didn't buy any special tools, so it was rather tedious, but it came out really good and it plays great.[/QUOTE] [url=http://www.philadelphialuthiertools.com/fretwire/jescar-nickel-silver-fretwire-fw58118-electric-super-jumbo-pre-radiused/]Jescar Nickel Silver Fretwire FW58118 Electric Super Jumbo Pre-radiused - Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies, LLC[/url] Having the frets radiused correctly makes installing them pretty easy. You can tap them in if your careful and take your time. Using the hotstuff glue holds them in exactly like the way PRS installs them, they use the hotstuff glue too. I have a harder time painting a guitar body over doing the refret work...
 
Steve A. 6/20/2014 2:43 AM
[QUOTE=Slobrain;350256][url=http://www.philadelphialuthiertools.com/fretwire/jescar-nickel-silver-fretwire-fw58118-electric-super-jumbo-pre-radiused/]Jescar Nickel Silver Fretwire FW58118 Electric Super Jumbo Pre-radiused - Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies, LLC[/url][/QUOTE] Here are the ones that I have been looking at. Do you think that they should work okay? The PRS apparently uses a 10" radius. I was told to order the closest radius and then in the order notes tell them that you need them with a 10" radius. [url=http://www.philadelphialuthiertools.com/fretwire/jescar-nickel-silver-fretwire-fw47104-electric-medium-jumbo-pre-radiused/]Jescar Nickel Silver Fretwire FW47104 Electric Medium/Jumbo Pre-radiused - Philadelphia Luthier Tools & Supplies, LLC[/url] Any suggestions for a fret tang cutter that costs less than $20? Steve P.S. So where do I get the Hot Stuff super glue? "You definitely need the notched straight edge to make sure your neck is straight when refretting." I can see the need for that when a guitar still has frets but do you need it after the frets have been pulled? I guess so if the wood around the fret slots is crapped up a bit... P.P.S. Did someone already post this link to an article showing how to refret a PRS? The gold frets are VERY tempting! $30 instead of $10 but when you figure in shipping it probably isn't THAT much more. [url]http://fingerlakesguitarrepair.com/prs-refret-with-evo-gold-fretwire/[/url]
 
Slobrain 6/20/2014 10:35 AM
[ATTACH=CONFIG]29355[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]29354[/ATTACH]Hey Steve, I get the hotstuff glue from Amazon white and red label bottle, its the thin stuff so it wicks up at the edge of the fret end before you cut the frets end off after install. two to maybe three small drops at the edge of each fret will do the job. The shipping on a pack of 25 precut radiused frets from Philly tools is maybe a coupe of bucks. it cost me around $15.00 total for a pack of the super jumbo frets shipped. Contact Philly tools and they can most likely do the 10 inch radius for you. Believe me, when they do the radius of the frets it makes it much easier to install them. the notched straight edge is used to get the neck straight in case you have to do some spot adjustment on the fretboard in case the wood humps up. I see this happen on some of the Squier necks but I've refretted some old Kramer necks and they were fine and all I needed to do was a smoothing of the fingerboard with a couple of passes of a radius block and some 400 grit sandpaper, makes the fretboard look new again. I'm not sure how you feel about jumbo frets but I like the way they feel, gives you a better grip on bending strings. I used to have Warmoth install medium jumbo (6150) on necks I bought from them years ago and then tried the Dunlop 6100s and thought, why have I been using medium jumbo when the 6100s feels so good to play on. Jumbo frets gives a better control on the strings when playing as I found out years back, they don't wear out very fast either... Getting the fretboard evenly straight from the nut to the end with the correct radius is part of the key to a good refret, the other part is getting all the frets in correctly so when you go to level them it comes out perfect. The notched straight edge is most useful at the time of getting the neck perfectly straight to get the leveling done right. When all that is done, then you have a great playing neck. but... you then need to play the guitar for maybe two weeks to a month to break it back in. then that's where it really shines. When you install the frets you need to cut the excessive frets ends off, you need to cut close to the fretboard but just a small bit way and pull down as you cut as to not make the fret end pop back up. its all in the technique... If I were you I would try doing a refret on a old cheapo guitar you might have laying around. so that way you can see all of what you will need to do to get it done correctly. Also go to YouTube and looks at different refret videos to see how people do them, some videos are good, some others not so good so take the good and leave the bad... Look at the pics Ive added, they are frets installed and then finished.
 
Slobrain 6/20/2014 7:06 PM
[url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/FRET-CUTTERS-NIPPERS-FLUSH-CUT-WIRE-GUITAR-LUTHIER-TOOL-/261505035550?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item3ce2ea2d1e]Fret Cutters Nippers Flush Cut Wire Guitar Luthier Tool | eBay[/url] [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/FRET-TANG-NIBBLER-NIPPER-FRETWIRE-CUTTER-LUTHIER-TOOL-/251504985947?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item3a8edd875b]Fret Tang Nibbler Nipper Fretwire Cutter Luthier Tool | eBay[/url] [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/G-M-I-fret-press-caul-plus-6-radiused-grooved-inserts/261134430033?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D21235%26meid%3D7764131796680105855%26pid%3D100005%26prg%3D9374%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D171342822704&rt=nc]G M I Fret Press Caul Plus 6 Radiused Grooved Inserts | eBay[/url] [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/Installing-leveling-crowning-fret-wire-video-DVD-/121303585788?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item1c3e41d3fc]Installing Leveling Amp Crowning Fret Wire Video DVD | eBay[/url] Something useful... The fret caul can be used on a drill press too. That was the first way I did it. The 1/2 ton press is much better and cheap at harbor Freight tools too. Cheaper than Stewmac. here is a tutorial below on Youtube [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQUHKFrVkIM#t=591[/url]
 
Steve A. 6/20/2014 7:29 PM
Slobrain: I plan to practice on my ~1998 blue Epiphone Casino- the original blue guitar! I thought that the fret ends stuck out too much so I started filing them down a little bit. But it turned out to be a little bit too much and unless you were fretting the high E string dead center it would slip off the side of the guitar... That guitar had all sorts of little rattles. Like the tune-a-matic bridge- the threads on the studs did not match the threads on the body. (I got some bolts with the correct thread and cut them to length.) I need to measure the radius of the Epiphone neck so I can order frets for that guitar as well as the PRS. Jumbo frets. I like guitars that came with them from the factory but I think that you can have intonation problems if you replace super tiny frets with super big ones. I'll have to measure the frets on a 2012 SE Custom semi-hollow to make sure that I am ordering the right ones. So with the frets removed from a fretboard what is the advantage of the notched straightedge? Steve
 
John_H 6/20/2014 8:26 PM
[IMG]http://i1214.photobucket.com/albums/cc488/philaluthiertools/PLTS%20Product%20Picture/FW47104.gif[/IMG]<< the wire from PL That doesn't look bad. I always pay attention to the length of the tang, especially for a refret. [IMG]http://www.stewmac.com/product/images/17172/StewMac_Medium_Fretwire.jpg[/IMG]<< I like this wire from stewmac for refrets. The long tang really holds well. I've never used a notched straightedge. I think a lot of Dan Erlewine's, or whoever's tools/inventions are pretty clever, but hardly needed. I'd recommend practicing on an unbound bolt-on neck from a cheap Asian guitar for starters. Learning on a large guitar such as a casino could be very awkward.
 
dmartn149 6/20/2014 10:17 PM
[QUOTE]I think a lot of Dan Erlewine's, or whoever's tools/inventions are pretty clever, but hardly needed.[/QUOTE] I was encouraged to do my Charvel by an interview with Albert Collins where he said that he used to re-fret his guitar himself on the road between gigs. I think that he probably didn't have a lot of special tools with him. The only "special" tool that I used was my end cutters that I modded for pulling fretts. I used a dremil to under cut the tangs and also to trim excess fret length. You just have to go slow to keep the heat down.
 
Slobrain 6/20/2014 11:36 PM
I use the notched straight edge for three reasons, the first is to check the fretboard evenness while sanding problem humps in the fretboard wood when sanding them down even, I mostly see this in Squier necks... The second, re-radiusing a fretboard from say a 9.5 to a 12. the third is to get the fretboard straight when doing the fret leveling after the new frets are installed so that the new frets will level evenly from the nut to the end of the fretboard. You want the fretboard wood to be straight so the frets will level evenly. Prepping a fretboard is critical in getting the playability great. another word, the fretboard needs to be consistent from one end to the other without dips in the wood. If the fretboard wood has dips then the frets will not level very well and you will have taller and shorter frets across the fretboard after a long and tedious leveling of the new frets. The notched straight edge will show you any problems with the fretboard itself. You would be surprised that a little too much sanding on a fretboard can cause fret unevenness when installing and trying to level them. If the fretboard is even all the way from one end to the other the correct radiused frets will go in nicely and level with minimal loss of metal retaining the height. I have found more issues in intonation with smaller uneven frets over the taller frets. Some guys really like the Dunlop 6105 tall thin frets for really perfect intonation. When jumbo frets get a flat spot then it can cause an intonation issue but it has to be really worn down. You can relevel and crown jumbo frets and get longer life from the frets with the jumbo. I personally like the way they feel. Zakk Wilde, Yngwie Malmsteen and many other pros really like the jumbo frets too. EVH and Joe Satriani likes the Dunlop 6105s if I remember correctly. I crown my frets to come to a point on the top roundness. They play well and good intonation. The picture I had attached earlier was the installed fret without the final level. The guitar in this pic shows a reradiused and refretted Squier standard neck on a MIM strat body, I added the new fender strat logo on it too to get my Hendrix look. It plays very well and very fast too. I also had to install and cut a new bone nut too so it will work with the new taller frets.
 
Steve A. 6/21/2014 1:18 AM
[QUOTE=John_H;350385]I'd recommend practicing on an unbound bolt-on neck from a cheap Asian guitar for starters. Learning on a large guitar such as a casino could be very awkward.[/QUOTE] Yikes- I just checked and the Casino does have a bound fretboard. I may just start on the PRS and work slowly. As for the frets the link I posted has the same basic specs as what PRS uses. But I will measure the frets on a 2012 model SE semi-hollow to make sure since I really like the big frets on that one. Steve
 
Steve A. 6/21/2014 1:28 AM
[QUOTE=Slobrain;350388]I use the notched straight edge for three reasons, the first is to check the fretboard evenness while sanding problem humps in the fretboard wood when sanding them down even, I mostly see this in Squier necks...[/QUOTE] The notched straight edges I have seen listed are for 24.75" and 25.5"- my PRS SE has a 25" scale. Will that work? I suppose I could notch my own with a Dremel... The intonation problems I have heard about have to do with the player pushing down too hard on frets considerably taller than the original. BTW a guitar is an equal-tempered instrument (like a piano) and many of the chords in a particular key will not sound right unless you do micro-bends on some of the strings. Some players blame the frets but I blame the player... :spin: Steve
 
John_H 6/21/2014 2:12 AM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350390]The notched straight edges I have seen listed are for 24.75" and 25.5"- my PRS SE has a 25" scale. Will that work? I suppose I could notch my own with a Dremel...[/QUOTE]I wouldn't sweat it Steve. I've never needed one. Ever. You can do it all with a regular straightedge. I do suggest though that you use one that is fairly rigid. I've got one that's 36" made of steel. [QUOTE]The intonation problems I have heard about have to do with the player pushing down too hard on frets considerably taller than the original. A guitar is an equal-tempered instrument (like a piano) and some of the chords in a particular key will not sound right unless you do micro-bends on some of the strings. Some players blame the frets but I blame the player... :spin: Steve[/QUOTE]I could never understand the desire for scalloped fingerboards. Here's a one piece walnut neck on a bass I'm building. [URL=http://s486.photobucket.com/user/jhwkns_photos/media/gtr/mosebassrout_zpsde8e7b7c.jpg.html][IMG]http://i486.photobucket.com/albums/rr226/jhwkns_photos/gtr/mosebassrout_zpsde8e7b7c.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 10:12 AM
I've done hundreds and hundreds of refrets and far more than my share of fretting in a manufacturing setting; I've also had dozens of luthiers working for me over 44 years of making instruments. There's absolutely nothing like practice and experience. You just can't get good at doing fretwork unless you do a lot of it. For one thing, you should slightly over-bend the fretwire so the ends seat first. You should not have to hammer the hell out of frets or you'll just induce a back bend and the ends of the fret(s) will pop up. Use a deadblow hammer or a light brass headed one. Start at each end and then work your way tap at a time to the center. Do the entire fretboard and then go back with the fret rocker and gently tap high spots down. Yes, superglue is great, but you should be able to get pretty close to perfect just with the hammer, and then do the gluing. A perfect fingerboard surface...before you put the frets in...makes for a perfect fret job. Use a small triangular file to bevel the fret slot edges just a bit to make getting the frets in easier, and that will also help prevent chips the next time the 'board is refretted. There's nothing like using a resistance soldering station to heat the frets for getting them out. Don't skimp on tools. Learn the overlaid fret end trick, and go ahead and buy the StewMac fret nipping tool. Just because you get one done well early in your refretting career does not make you an expert...there's always a surprise awaiting you. Be careful with superglue around nitro lacquer...if you get drips on the lacquer on the neck, you're screwed. Be careful with soldering irons around celluloid binding unless you like fire in your face. Don't forget that there were about 20 years when Fender put their frets in from the side and if you pull them out straight up...even with heat...you're screwed...look it up on line. There's no need to buy fret wire from a guitar manufacturer like PRS; they don't make their own wire. Go to [url=http://www.lutherie.net]Paul Hostetter, luthier - bowed and fretted instruments - welcome to my home page[/url] and check Paul's fretwire size chart; also check out his treatise on shaping string nuts...it's the best. You can buy small quantities of practically any size from the right suppliers. Jescar wire is fantastic. Dunlop is very good, too. Jescar "Gold" fretwire is easier to install than stainless steel and seems to last as long. The last time I visited Fender, they were wasting about 1 1/2" of fret wire per fret position on well over 200 instruments a day; you do the math! Lightly dampening the fret tang with water...or spit...lubes the fret and makes installing easier. Martin has many different tang widths for refretting and literally wedging necks to take out too much relief; what a stupid concept, but it works on Martins with no adjustable truss rod. Fretting over the body on acoustic guitars is tricky. If you do a great fret job on a vintage guitar, it should look 100% original...so good that an expert vintage dealer will not catch it as a refret. That means knowing exactly how the fret ends were treated at the various different factories; there's Gibson style, Martin style, and Gangam style... I did a '41 D-45 for Bernie Leadon that he then sold for $125,000.00. It was perfect. Don't use superglue on valuable vintage instruments. I used hot hide glue on that one.
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 10:29 AM
a few personal observations, -you generally want the fret itself a bit under-radiused (to a smaller radius) so the ends are less likely to pop free, and there is little danger the middle will pop free as a result. -Don't undercut the tang on the outside ends (with the special cutters or manually) to accommodate a neck binding (yuck!) or to do slot refilling, as it makes the fret quite a bit less stable. -you can make a custom crowning "file" by laying saran wrap over good fret and molding epoxy putty over it, then stick strips of carbide paper (with a non permanent spray glue) to the hardened epoxy to recrown the troublesome frets in the exact same shape. -CA glue can be useful but is often not needed if the slots are fit well -use a triangular file, like used in chem labs to score glass tubing, to chamfer fresh slots to better accommodate tang and also lessen the chance of pulling up wood flakes from fret slot edge when removing frets. -don't try to cut these slots by hand [IMG]http://www.dreamguitars.com/products/bamburg/bamburg_jsb_10-22/images/detail3.jpg[/IMG] -finally NEVER use old fashioned (or cool colored) soft metal fretwire! SS is the bomb!
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 10:39 AM
I cannot agree with the advice not to undercut fret ends to accommodate binding. We do it all the time, and we don't have an issue with it. We're building eight or nine bound fingerboard guitars a month, and we do undercut. You just have to do it correctly. I like the StewMac diamond grit fret recrowning files. If you refret really well, you'll hardly need to do fret recrowning. We're now milling fret slots on our CNC machine with bits from "Precise Bits". Fantastic. We can do closed ended slots, too.
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 10:47 AM
I just hate bound fretboards, you do what you have to to accommodate that (poor in my opinion) design.
 
Slobrain 6/21/2014 10:50 AM
[QUOTE=Rick Turner;350411]I've done hundreds and hundreds of refrets and far more than my share of fretting in a manufacturing setting; I've also had dozens of luthiers working for me over 44 years of making instruments. There's absolutely nothing like practice and experience. You just can't get good at doing fretwork unless you do a lot of it. For one thing, you should slightly over-bend the fretwire so the ends seat first. You should not have to hammer the hell out of frets or you'll just induce a back bend and the ends of the fret(s) will pop up. Use a deadblow hammer or a light brass headed one. Start at each end and then work your way tap at a time to the center. Do the entire fretboard and then go back with the fret rocker and gently tap high spots down. Yes, superglue is great, but you should be able to get pretty close to perfect just with the hammer, and then do the gluing. A perfect fingerboard surface...before you put the frets in...makes for a perfect fret job. Use a small triangular file to bevel the fret slot edges just a bit to make getting the frets in easier, and that will also help prevent chips the next time the 'board is refretted. There's nothing like using a resistance soldering station to heat the frets for getting them out. Don't skimp on tools. Learn the overlaid fret end trick, and go ahead and buy the StewMac fret nipping tool. Just because you get one done well early in your refretting career does not make you an expert...there's always a surprise awaiting you. Be careful with superglue around nitro lacquer...if you get drips on the lacquer on the neck, you're screwed. Be careful with soldering irons around celluloid binding unless you like fire in your face. Don't forget that there were about 20 years when Fender put their frets in from the side and if you pull them out straight up...even with heat...you're screwed...look it up on line. There's no need to buy fret wire from a guitar manufacturer like PRS; they don't make their own wire. Go to [url=http://www.lutherie.net]Paul Hostetter, luthier - bowed and fretted instruments - welcome to my home page[/url] and check Paul's fretwire size chart; also check out his treatise on shaping string nuts...it's the best. You can buy small quantities of practically any size from the right suppliers. Jescar wire is fantastic. Dunlop is very good, too. Jescar "Gold" fretwire is easier to install than stainless steel and seems to last as long. The last time I visited Fender, they were wasting about 1 1/2" of fret wire per fret position on well over 200 instruments a day; you do the math! Lightly dampening the fret tang with water...or spit...lubes the fret and makes installing easier. Martin has many different tang widths for refretting and literally wedging necks to take out too much relief; what a stupid concept, but it works on Martins with no adjustable truss rod. Fretting over the body on acoustic guitars is tricky. If you do a great fret job on a vintage guitar, it should look 100% original...so good that an expert vintage dealer will not catch it as a refret. That means knowing exactly how the fret ends were treated at the various different factories; there's Gibson style, Martin style, and Gangam style... I did a '41 D-45 for Bernie Leadon that he then sold for $125,000.00. It was perfect. Don't use superglue on valuable vintage instruments. I used hot hide glue on that one.[/QUOTE] Rick has excellent advice. I've done maybe a dozen refrets and I find every neck is a bit different and has its ups and downs. I definitely would recommend doing a cheap guitar (Squier or cheap Epi) before doing the PRS. that way you get an idea of all that will need to be done. getting experienced by doing the work before you do it you should look at as many refret videos out there too. this will give an idea of all that you might run into doing the refret. Regarding the notched straight edge, it allows you to read the fretboard with the frets in. I personally find using one most valuable... some feel they don't need them and I guess it depends on the person. I used a regular straight edge before getting the notched straight edge and after getting it I realized how much more they helped me in getting the fretboard straight when doing the work. A good straight edge will work well with an unfretted neck. it will work with a fretted neck too but with uneven frets it will rock. its a personal preference thing. Doing refretting requires tools like any other job. Could an AC repairman do his work without a set of gauges?
 
John_H 6/21/2014 10:54 AM
Great advice Rick. My experience is more like dozens rather than "hundreds and hundreds", but practice is paramount. I'm just a guy who makes stuff in his garage, and by no means an expert, but I can make a pretty nice neck with basic tools. I wish I could be as confident when it comes to finishing.
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 11:03 AM
Since you guys are all professional fretboardists maybe you can help me understand, I am puzzled by people who scallop the higher frets; the string NEVER actually contacts the wood up there unless you are slacking them out with extreme vibrato bridge action. Even little old Tele frets almost never show the ugly dirt from losing their finish high up on the neck. Lower than 12 frets do see the string touch wood. Maybe the scallop helps them feel position?
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 1:25 PM
I personally really like bound fingerboards for several reasons: I like the feel; I like the look; I like the hidden fret slot ends. If you're doing professional fret work, you'd better get really good a dealing with bound fingerboards unless you like to turn work away and get a reputation for being a diva. Scalloped fingerboards are really for getting more meat of your fingertip on the string, especially for string bends. Flush fret scalloped boards have been done for decades and decades on a limited basis; and there is an undeniable comfort factor when sliding up the fingerboard. See if you can find guitars made by Phillip Interdonati on the web. Pro guitar techs do not have the luxury of imposing personal prejudices upon customers and their instruments. If you want to make money as a luthier, stop listening so much to your inner voices and start listening to real world customers. Unless you're a Trustafarian and it just doesn't matter whether you get paid or not...
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 3:01 PM
scalloped for bends? I have never heard that, you can't even push down without going sharp, and the biggest proponent (YMalmsteen) uses them just for sweep pick arpeggio speed and has never bent a string as far as I've heard... As to odd frets there are many including True Temper (shown above) and also Jetfrets [IMG]http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd151/JetFretz/John%20Petrucci%20Neck/IMG_2440.jpg[/IMG] and closer to scalloping without the heavy wood removal Todd Keehn's huge 0.15625" SS bar frets and Allparts #0877 super jumbo fret wire (0.170" x 0.102")
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 3:12 PM
Try scalloped frets. It is easier to bend with them. And as for going sharp: Robben Ford once had me refret his '58 Strat with the biggest frets I could find at the time because he felt that he was clamping down on the strings too hard with his left hand. He thought that if he had super big frets, he'd back off on his finger pressure because he'd hear the notes going sharp. It was a kind of bio-feedback mechanism for him to unlearn bad fretting habits. I'm telling you, you have to go with what your customers want, especially if they are smart and articulate. This isn't about what you or I like at all; it's about making tools for musicians and/or improving musicians' tools to their needs. Take yourself out of it, and learn to do what the players want and need. That is if you want to make a living at this stuff. I do.
 
Slobrain 6/21/2014 3:52 PM
I like the super jumbo frets because it gives me more string control all around without the scalloping. My finger tips are not dragging on the fretboard and it makes my touch on guitar lighter and faster. string bending easier too. Hey Rick, thank you for excellent advice. I'm always glad to keep learning from folks willing to share their knowledge. I haven't refretted a bound fingerboard yet but I feel I'm up to the challenge if I ever decide to give it a shot. Its in knowledge, prep and patience... I think Steve isn't sure if he can replace the frets in his PRS SE without issues of intonation but I have replaced vintage frets in some strat necks with larger frets and they seem to play better and actually gives the neck a meatier sound too with no intonation problems as long as they are crowned right. Cheers
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 6:23 PM
Intonation problems attributed to fret size are player problems, not fret size problems. Some players like small frets...Lee Sklar, arguably one of the most successful "for hire" electric bassists of all times, likes mandolin fret wire on his instruments. Some like huge wire. It's a matter of personal taste and touch. The story of my doing the refret on Bernie Leadon's D-45? He asked me to do it not because it technically really needed it...sure the frets had been dressed a couple of times, but one thinks twice about doing anything to a $125,000.00 guitar. He had me do it because he "felt too much wood" under his fingertips, and he avoided that guitar in favor of a vintage herringbone D-28 on which the frets were about .015" taller. So I regulated my coffee intake that day and did the job.
 
Steve A. 6/21/2014 6:28 PM
[QUOTE=tedmich;350418]I just hate bound fretboards, you do what you have to to accommodate that (poor in my opinion) design.[/QUOTE] Do what my friend Felix does- extend the fret channel right through the binding. :tape: He is blind but he has done at least 100 refret jobs- mainly on his own guitars, sanding down the fretboard for a wider radius and doing it all by touch. His girlfriend does help with hammering the frets in but he does the rest. His guitars have very low action- he doesn't care much for any guitar that he hasn't refretted himself. (His guitar playing is fucking incredible- think Eric Johnson but with a better grasp of blues...) Steve P.S. He might do some bound necks the right way- I was thinking of an Agile LP that he refretted...
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 7:04 PM
Gawd, don't saw fret slots through binding! Especially on someone else's guitar. That's the single worst looking thing you can do. Next worst is the dark ages advice to take the binding off to refret and then glue it back on. We aren't in the stone age anymore, folks. The right ways to do these tasks are easy to find. Read any of Dan Erlewine's Stew Mac articles, read Frank Ford's [url=http://www.frets.com]FRETS.COM Acoustic guitar instrument care, repair for players, luthiers[/url], read Paul Hostetter's advice, read the Mandolin Cafe blog lutherie stuff (best on the internet for fretted instrument advice). Don't pay attention to anyone who doesn't do this stuff for a living or who hasn't been doing it for at least eight to ten years. The best advice comes from folks who have done pro repair work for a long time in busy retail environments, and their experience is available to you if you do a modicum of homework. And "luthiers" right out of lutherie school don't know squat, either. And "luthiers" who specialize in aesthetic work...carving, inlays, etc., are not to be trusted for practical work advice...
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 7:17 PM
The best advice I can give on repair work and restoration is to ask yourself this: "Would it pass inspection by George Gruhn, Stan Jay, Stan Werbin, Fred Oster, Richard Johnston, Dan Erlewine, Buzzy Levine, Walter Carter, or Jim Baggett?" And if you don't know who those guys are, you don't know the world of vintage guitars, and maybe you shouldn't work on them before working your way up through instruments worth less than a grand. One of the things they do at Roberto Venn is to repeatedly refret guitar necks. Yes, do a refret whether it needs it or not, and then do it again. And again. And again. It gets harder each time you do it because you're wearing out the fret slots. So learn to carefully restore the slots themselves...you're going to need to know that anyway. And even that doesn't necessarily teach you all the weird things you'll run into with bowed necks, back-bowed necks, "S" bends in necks, etc.
 
Joe L 6/21/2014 8:40 PM
Mitch! Good to see you old man. My suggestion to the OP is to pickup a few cheap necks from Guitarfetish to practice on.
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 8:49 PM
Or junkers at the flea market or garage sales.
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 10:13 PM
As a hired pro, of course you have to do what the customer wants, but for me bound fret boards are wasted effort and material like bound bodies. Its an extension of the whole Gibson LP vs Strat mentality, Gibson wanted the player to conform to the shape they saw as valid for the guitar while Leo made the Strat to fit the player, one of the best ergometric designs ever, as well as being cheap and easy to mass produce (2fer!). Some of the best guitarists don't think too deeply about what they do, it is all about the feel, and I think the Strat is a more direct route to those feeling most of the time because of its ergonomics. IMHO. Stainless steel definitely bends like crazy, there is no soft metal "grab"
 
Rick Turner 6/21/2014 10:36 PM
And there are many of us who think that Clapton did his best work and got his best sounds on a Les Paul and an SG! Bluesbreakers and Cream era stuff beats most of his solo career for tone, touch, and passion. And...there are a lot of guitarists who don't seem to like the sound of stainless steel frets. I hate to install them. The Jescar "Gold" frets seem to be the best of both worlds. As near as we can figure, they're an alloy of iron and copper and something or other else. They may not be as hard as SS, but they are very tough...and that is a different property than just hardness. They last really well, and they look great, too. Don't forget that Leo Fender's approach to refretting a Strat or Tele neck was to toss the neck into the ashcan and put a new neck on the guitar. Leo did not believe in refrets...at all. The necks were disposable. True story... In the 1950s and early '60s, nobody gave a shit about vintage guitars. When I was playing in a psychedelic rock band, a '58 LP or Strat was the equivalent of a 2006 LP or Strat. They were used guitars barely 8 years old. Also, Gibson came out of building acoustic instruments...flat top and arched top. Les Paul started on archtops. There is/was a tradition in that factory culture that was very, very different from what Leo came up through. Leo was the Henry Ford of the electric guitar biz. He figured out how to get more guitar out of less materials and labor than anyone had done before him. Leo was a true industrial designer fixated on making it...whatever "it" was...for less money, and thus having a greater profit margin potential than "the competition". I think we need to be able to step back and look at how these instruments evolved and also recognize that different aspects of the designs mean more or less to people other than ourselves. We also need to be able to separate design features that are truly lame from those which we merely don't personally like. And then we need to recognize that our own personal prejudices may work against us when faced with working on instruments that don't meet our own desires, but are clearly great for others. Like bound guitar necks... If you don't like them, fine, but don't impose that view upon others or do a shitty job refretting a bound neck just because you don't like them.
 
tedmich 6/21/2014 11:27 PM
all very valid points Rick, I would venture that the average ability of pro strat players exceeds that of the average pro LP players and that very few pro players go from a Strat to an LP (save for contractual reasons) while the latter switch is more common. Of course real artists can make most anything sound good, a point lost on all the guys who try to recreate EVHs Frankenstrat thinking it defines a great instrument rather than a great player. In general I think old guitars are just old, nothing too special and usually inferior to anything made today at 1/10th the price, but my feelings can't overcome the ridiculous prices to do the actual experiment. The technology of making guitars has only gotten better, woods may disappear but tech seldom does. People do feel deeply about old guitars though, no rational is needed to accept that!
 
bbsailor 6/22/2014 10:41 AM
[QUOTE=Rick Turner;350448]And there are many of us who think that Clapton did his best work and got his best sounds on a Les Paul and an SG! Bluesbreakers and Cream era stuff beats most of his solo career for tone, touch, and passion. And...there are a lot of guitarists who don't seem to like the sound of stainless steel frets. I hate to install them. The Jescar "Gold" frets seem to be the best of both worlds. As near as we can figure, they're an alloy of iron and copper and something or other else. They may not be as hard as SS, but they are very tough...and that is a different property than just hardness. They last really well, and they look great, too. Don't forget that Leo Fender's approach to refretting a Strat or Tele neck was to toss the neck into the ashcan and put a new neck on the guitar. Leo did not believe in refrets...at all. The necks were disposable. True story... In the 1950s and early '60s, nobody gave a shit about vintage guitars. When I was playing in a psychedelic rock band, a '58 LP or Strat was the equivalent of a 2006 LP or Strat. They were used guitars barely 8 years old. Also, Gibson came out of building acoustic instruments...flat top and arched top. Les Paul started on archtops. There is/was a tradition in that factory culture that was very, very different from what Leo came up through. Leo was the Henry Ford of the electric guitar biz. He figured out how to get more guitar out of less materials and labor than anyone had done before him. Leo was a true industrial designer fixated on making it...whatever "it" was...for less money, and thus having a greater profit margin potential than "the competition". I think we need to be able to step back and look at how these instruments evolved and also recognize that different aspects of the designs mean more or less to people other than ourselves. We also need to be able to separate design features that are truly lame from those which we merely don't personally like. And then we need to recognize that our own personal prejudices may work against us when faced with working on instruments that don't meet our own desires, but are clearly great for others. Like bound guitar necks... If you don't like them, fine, but don't impose that view upon others or do a shitty job refretting a bound neck just because you don't like them.[/QUOTE] Good points Rick. Here are a few more observations on the evolution of the modern guitar. I was a mid-teenager the 1960s when Rock and Roll the Beatles reached their musical and social peak. Guitars became very popular but manufactures needed to sell low-priced instruments that were easy to play for the new guitar player fingers that were weak, soft and tender. They introduced light and extra light strings so the guitars would finger well in the guitar store. Early attemps to use light gauge strings were done by using a regular set of .012" or .013" high E-strings moving them over one string so that the E-string became the B-string, etc. and the new high E-string was made by using a banjo D-string, thus making a light gauge set of strings before light gauge strings were commercially available. Les Paul type guitars had set necks and a 24.75" scale length which made the strings feel a little looser than the same gauge string on a Fender 25" scale length guitar. I would always use a little thicker gauge on the LP type guitars. Over the years I have discovered that neck-body joint type and fitting tolerances made an audible difference in the non-amplified sound of the string sustain. My interest in electronics got me interested in the technical aspects of guitar set-up which led me to the non-electronic aspects as well. My interests in guitars peaked when I met Steve Blozen, a wood stringed folk instrument maker in Newark, NJ who with the encouragement of his sons and the evolving popularity of the guitar started making electric guitars. Steve knew nothing about electronics, soldering, pot values or switching pickups. I spent about 5 years helping him and in return, learned about making fine wood instruments, wood tools, wood machines and finishing techniques. I most enjoyed doing the final setup on his guitars and getting the action just right. One thing I learned is that the straightness of the neck, frets and final fret dressing plays a very important role in the critical playing feel of the guitar. Also, necks on the commercial guitars in the 1960s were becomming thinner to accomodate unskilled young hands. Steve's guitars continued to have the beefier necks that were typical of the pre Rock and Roll and Beatles era guitars. Also, Steve's custom guitars appealed to more skilled players who did not see thin necks and slinky strings as desireable. As a result of my above experience, when I go into a Guitar Center retail store, I look on the used instrument wall to try to find a "sleeper". A sleeper guitar is one that shows little fret wear, poor setup, bad intonation, poorly implemented modifications and a variety of cosmetic issues. However, if the neck and fretwork are good, and the acoustic string sustain sound is good, the guitar has potential to be put into a playable condition at a low price. Once of my best sleeper guitars is a Schecter Research S1-Elite, dual cutaway solid body, arched top, set neck with a 25" scale and two humbucker style pickups. This guitar has a SD high impedance humbucker and an active EMG 85 humbucker pickup installed that represented a poor attempt to modify. Once I had the guitar home, I disassembled it, added another EMG 85 active pickup, added stacked 25K volume controls and stacked pots for mid-range frequency/boost-cut and active stacked pots for treble/bass boost-cut. All of this was added without drilling any new holes on the nicely finished arched top of the S-1 Elite. This guitar became one of my best playing and best sounding guitars. For anyone looking for a sleeper guitar, learn to quickly evaluate the real value of a potentially good guitar in the quality of the neck, frets, neck to body joint and acoustic feel of the string sound. Look past things that make little difference in the final set up. A guitar with a wavy, twisted or humped neck, high or loose frets should be put back on the rack with no further evaluation effort. Most off-the rack guitars or new guitars have very high nuts that need to be adjusted/filed to make first fret bar chords easy to play and have the guitar reach its full potential. Joseph Rogowski
 
Steve A. 6/22/2014 5:24 PM
[QUOTE=Rick Turner;350441]Gawd, don't saw fret slots through binding! Especially on someone else's guitar. That's the single worst looking thing you can do.[/QUOTE] A good portion of the members here are non-professional DIY-ers hoping to receive expert advice from by professionals like you. So you don't have to worry about me mangling up someone else's guitar. :noob: The PRS SE in question would be considered to be "totaled" by an insurance adjuster since a professional refret would be more expensive than the used price of the guitar ($400) less the cost of installed upgrades ($150 worth of pickups.) I thought that leveling and recrowning the frets might have saved it but there just wasn't enough metal left in the frets hence my intention to refret it. My only concern working on this guitar is how it plays and not how it looks. It is essentially worthless now and if I can bring it back to usefulness I'll be a happy camper. Steve P.S. Felix's Agile LP plays like a dream- the frets are more secure than if done the proper professional way since the tang goes across the full width of the neck.
 
Steve A. 6/22/2014 5:42 PM
[QUOTE=tedmich;350450]I would venture that the average ability of pro strat players exceeds that of the average pro LP players and that very few pro players go from a Strat to an LP (save for contractual reasons) while the latter switch is more common.[/QUOTE] I beg to differ. Although you see strats all over the place nowadays I prefer guitars with set necks and I don't like those damn tremolo springs vibrating when I play. :p When I bend a B or high E string I expect the pitch of a low E to remain perfectly constant. You can get that with a Tele or a Strat with a blocked tremolo but there is something about a LP style guitar when the neck and body communicate very well. I remember in the 70's Rory Gallagher and Nils Lofgren played strats while practically everybody else was playing setneck LP's and SG's. [QUOTE]The technology of making guitars has only gotten better, woods may disappear but tech seldom does.[/QUOTE] The Asian imports today play much better right out of the box than the Gibson and Fenders that I bought over the years. What I didn't realize back then was that there was hardly any setup done at the factory to keep the price down. They figured that a professional is going to have his guitar tech set it up anyway and the kids buying them won't know the difference. Steve A.
 
Steve A. 6/22/2014 5:51 PM
[QUOTE=bbsailor;350465]Over the years I have discovered that neck-body joint type and fitting tolerances made an audible difference in the non-amplified sound of the string sustain.[/QUOTE] Yes! I would always pick out a guitar that had a really nice sound acoustically. If it didn't have that sound you could spend hundreds of dollars on pickups and other upgrades and it still wouldn't sound good. The best playing guitars I bought in the 80's and 90's were used ones that had been set up professionally. I never knew exactly what that involved but I see now that fret leveling and recrowning is a big part of it (since I got my $40 fret leveling kit!) Steve
 
Slobrain 6/22/2014 6:41 PM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350440]Do what my friend Felix does- extend the fret channel right through the binding. :tape: He is blind but he has done at least 100 refret jobs- mainly on his own guitars, sanding down the fretboard for a wider radius and doing it all by touch. His girlfriend does help with hammering the frets in but he does the rest. His guitars have very low action- he doesn't care much for any guitar that he hasn't refretted himself. (His guitar playing is fucking incredible- think Eric Johnson but with a better grasp of blues...) Steve P.S. He might do some bound necks the right way- I was thinking of an Agile LP that he refretted...[/QUOTE] Hey Steve, you mean he flattened the radius of the neck to get better string bending without fretouts. That's the same reason I have changed some of my strat necks from 9.5 to 12 inch for a lower action without fret out on bends. I do like a 9.5 radius for chording and feel that Warmoths 10 to 16 inch compound radius feels great. I see that some other guitar manufacturers out there are now doing the compound radius with their guitars the last 10 years or so. Good for them, the compound radius is a great playing feel. Man, you really got some guys pointing out some good info on refrets here. Go look at as many YouTube videos and don't be afraid to do the refret, just be patient and take your time. You can do this. before I ever refretted a neck I had done many many mods and strat style guitar builds over the years and then a buddy refretted one of those Chibson Les Paul's because he didn't like the crappy fretting that it had. Once he did it he told me to give it a shot... I said what the heck and after my first refret, I was really glad to started doing them. Now its just getting an idea what each neck needs and taking my time to get each part done. Each part of a refret has a technique so watch as many videos you can end see each part of the refret technique to learn from. Who knows, maybe one day you will be doing them for a living... Slo
 
Steve A. 6/22/2014 11:39 PM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350440]Do what my friend Felix does- extend the fret channel right through the binding. :tape: He is blind but he has done at least 100 refret jobs- mainly on his own guitars, sanding down the fretboard for a wider radius and doing it all by touch. His girlfriend does help with hammering the frets in but he does the rest. His guitars have very low action- he doesn't care much for any guitar that he hasn't refretted himself. (His guitar playing is fucking incredible- think Eric Johnson but with a better grasp of blues...)[/QUOTE] Here's a video of Felix so you can check out his playing- and the fret job he did on his red strat about one minute and 45 seconds into the video. [video=youtube;O617q5DLOfs]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O617q5DLOfs[/video] Enjoy! Steve
 
Steve A. 6/22/2014 11:54 PM
[QUOTE=Slobrain;350518]Each part of a refret has a technique so watch as many videos you can end see each part of the refret technique to learn from. Who knows, maybe one day you will be doing them for a living... [/QUOTE] Actually right now I'm thinking more of all the guitarists I know who need fret leveling. Its usually about $95 around here for a setup that includes leveling (if it needs a refret I will pass on that.) I have a whole shitload of guitars that undoubtedly need fret leveling and recrowning- I'm waiting for more tools to arrive.I am sure that the work on my older guitars will be much more involved than tapping in a few frets as I have been doing on my new guitars. Yes, there is certainly a whole lot of good tips from the people on this thread. Even the guitar tech down at the local GC gave me some tips, like putting blue masking tape on either side of a fret you are pulling out to help keep the wood from splintering. Thanks! Steve
 
Steve A. 6/23/2014 12:05 AM
Bound necks
I don't know how they are doing this in Asia but my Vietnamese ESP/LTD EC-256 has a bound neck and body and sells for $250-300. The Squire Classic Vibe 60's Tele Custom made in Indonesia has a bound neck and body and sells for around $350. And they look sharp. While customers say "Wow!" this thread brings up a good point- refretting these guitars might cost more than they are worth.
 
Slobrain 6/23/2014 7:15 AM
[QUOTE=Joe L;350443]Mitch! Good to see you old man. My suggestion to the OP is to pickup a few cheap necks from Guitarfetish to practice on.[/QUOTE]Hey Joe, Good to hear from you too. I hope your in the process of a new awesome amp build. I tell buddies about some of the stuff you did back on Ampage. I sure miss Ampage, what a cool place that was. Actually its Steve A. about to get his feet wet in the world of refretting. I've been doing it for a few years now myself. I'm trying to talk Steve into building the tools he needs. He's about to embark on refretting a PRS. Here is one of my refrets, I changed the radius from a 9.5 to a 12 inch and put in the Jescar super jumbo frets for more finger control... It plays so much better now, plus the jumbo frets give the neck a bit of a beefier sound too. Yep, I used the Squier indo made necks to learn on before I did other better necks. Surprisingly the Squier Indo made strat necks came out playing really well after the refrets. probably cheap wood but the truss rod in them is ok... [ATTACH=CONFIG]29383[/ATTACH] T-Boy, please bring back Ampage...
 
JoeM 6/23/2014 12:09 PM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350551]I don't know how they are doing this in Asia but my Vietnamese ESP/LTD EC-256 has a bound neck and body and sells for $250-300. The Squire Classic Vibe 60's Tele Custom made in Indonesia has a bound neck and body and sells for around $350. And they look sharp.[/QUOTE] Steve, I have a squier classic vibe 60s Tele Custom, but it says crafted in China, bound body, but not a bound fingerboard. Really well made guitar. Where did you see one with a bound FB?
 
Rick Turner 6/23/2014 3:16 PM
There is a certain amount of fuzzy brain when dealing with Bay Area guitarists of the '60s and early '70s! I have one of the three "Super Bear" black faced Princeton Reverbs modded by Owsley Stanley, aka "Bear", and Barry at one point thought his Princeton was one of them. It's not. Bear beefed up the power supply a bit, added a "mid" control as per Showman front end, and put in a JBL D-120. The little thing kicks some serious ass, but it wasn't gutted and completely rebuilt as per Randall's early Princeton make-overs. The guy who is still around who really knows the Prune Music story is Larry Cragg, a great luthier/muso/guitar and amp collector/rental service still working in Marin in San Anselmo.
 
JoeM 6/23/2014 3:34 PM
Rick, I think your last post was meant for the other thread?: (Regarding Mesa, Randall Smith) [url]http://music-electronics-forum.com/t36655/#post350602[/url]
 
Steve A. 6/23/2014 6:39 PM
[QUOTE=JoeM;350581]Steve, I have a squier classic vibe 60s Tele Custom, but it says crafted in China, bound body, but not a bound fingerboard. Really well made guitar. Where did you see one with a bound FB?[/QUOTE] In my dreams? :noob: Rather than figure out which gig bag I put it in I will take your word for it. (Yes, my memory has gotten really bad as a result of having bumped my head against beams and pipes in crowded attics too many times. But hey it's not all bad- half of the things I forget were probably bad anyway- right? :smoke: ) What I do remember is that it is a really nice guitar for the price ($379 a few years ago) and that SamAsh sent me two guitars with the same invoice number so I probably could have kept the second one but I sent it back to them. It's been apart for a few years now waiting for me to put in my set of Antiquity I's from another guitar. Steve
 
Steve A. 6/25/2014 3:40 AM
I've been trying to figure out how LTD can sell guitars made in Vietnam with bound bodies and fretboards for $250-300. It seems like the factories in Asia have new techniques to apply the binding- I have a hunch that it is pre-cut to fit since all of the bodies are identical. As for the bound fretboards my guess is that they are bound just like binding on the bodies- but they are using frets cut exactly to the required dimensions so that they are pressed in very easily. They might have a run of 500 necks all of which are identical so that would be one way to crank them out very cheaply. If you have workers measuring and cutting frets and fret tangs it would slow down the assembly line. And I think that having the binding makes it easier since the frets can't slide back and forth. I would further guess that the fret ends have already been tapered- they press the frets in, make sure they are all level and voila! the fretboard is done. (If they were filing the fret ends on the neck I think it would have left marks on the binding.) So I actually might try refretting one of six LTD EC-256's that I own (I did mention that I have OCD- right?) The first 3 I got had P-90 stacked pickups which sounded like total crap but that was cool because the pickup cavities could accommodate practically any other P-90 mount pickup without having to rout it out. I put DiM virtual P-90's in one, boutique-style P-90's in another and the third one is going to have boutique-style P-90's with a dummy coil. Once I pull out the 22 frets I could try to duplicate them exactly with radiused 6130 fretwire and theoretically they would all go right in. (What would be time-consuming would be "cloning" the 22 frets but I could do a few at a time for a couple of weeks until they were all done.) I would call it my "color-by-number" refret job. Of course it is possible that the removed frets would be too mangled up to make heads or tails of them. Yikes- its past my bedtime and my computer keyboard will turn into a pumpk.......:spin:
 
John_H 6/25/2014 10:38 AM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350729]...Once I pull out the 22 frets I could try to duplicate them exactly with radiused 6130 fretwire and theoretically they would all go right in. (What would be time-consuming would be "cloning" the 22 frets but I could do a few at a time for a couple of weeks until they were all done.) I would call it my "color-by-number" refret job. Of course it is possible that the removed frets would be too mangled up to make heads or tails of them.[/QUOTE] Trying to cut the frets to the exact length would be a waste of time. The fret ends should be all "dressed" at the same time for consistency. You're getting some great advice here from many sources, but I think it's over-complicating the issue. Yes, it's tricky at times, and tedious as well, but anyone who has some tool skill, and can pay attention to detail should be able to succeed. There are dozens of tools available to make things easier, but it still comes down to basic craftsmanship, and that boils down to natural skill, and practice. You should get a neck to experiment with, and start with the most basic of tools. If you learn by relying only on skill, and technique, You'll do better work in the long run because you'll only use the other specialty tools as intended. As time saver's, not as a crutch.
 
Steve A. 6/25/2014 11:57 AM
[QUOTE=John_H;350761]Trying to cut the frets to the exact length would be a waste of time. The fret ends should be all "dressed" at the same time for consistency.[/QUOTE] John: That was a "think" piece I just posted- wondering how they are installing frets in bound necks in the factories in Asia in guitars selling for as low a $250. For a "real" refret job (as planned for the PRS SE Semi-Hollow) I will be following all of the great advice posted here. Right now my main interest is going through my collection of 40 or 50 guitars and checking the necks and doing fret leveling as needed. Before refretting the PRS I'll probably try lowering the frets in one of my LTD EC-256's from .053 to .036. Thanks for all of the tips! Steve Ahola P.S. Asian factories especially in China are reinventing a lot of the manufacturing processes, looking at the end product and coming up with cost effective methods to achieve the same results.
 
Joe L 6/25/2014 6:44 PM
[QUOTE=Slobrain;350564]Hey Joe, Good to hear from you too. I hope your in the process of a new awesome amp build. I tell buddies about some of the stuff you did back on Ampage. I sure miss Ampage, what a cool place that was. [/QUOTE] Those were definitely the dawning days of the clone explosion! And yes, I'm retired now and with all the extra time I have, the projects have multiplied. I'm doing an OD3 from the SLOclone forum with midi controlled BF clean/2203 Crunch/Friedman Lead channels which is nearing completion. Also have an Ampclones Mesa Mark IIC+ mostly done, a 36watt - 18 watt Marshall with EF86+TMB preamps, a 1959 modded to a Mojave Scorpion circuit, my old 4212 combo that was my first SLO prototype is now a 2558 completed as of last week (I still have two tube sockets and the clean channel controls to build a discreet clean channel), an SLO Lead channel rack mount preamp and I'm outfitting a 2203 chassis/power amp with an open preamp section board for prototyping stuff. So, is that awesome enough?
 
Slobrain 6/26/2014 9:40 PM
[QUOTE=Joe L;350815]Those were definitely the dawning days of the clone explosion! And yes, I'm retired now and with all the extra time I have, the projects have multiplied. I'm doing an OD3 from the SLOclone forum with midi controlled BF clean/2203 Crunch/Friedman Lead channels which is nearing completion. Also have an Ampclones Mesa Mark IIC+ mostly done, a 36watt - 18 watt Marshall with EF86+TMB preamps, a 1959 modded to a Mojave Scorpion circuit, my old 4212 combo that was my first SLO prototype is now a 2558 completed as of last week (I still have two tube sockets and the clean channel controls to build a discreet clean channel), an SLO Lead channel rack mount preamp and I'm outfitting a 2203 chassis/power amp with an open preamp section board for prototyping stuff. So, is that awesome enough?[/QUOTE] yep, I would say so... That's a lot of irons in the fire but sounds like all good ones. I'm not working now due to outsourcing from the hospital I worked at. They let the whole network group go, then brought in contractors... The wave of new corporate America... Post pics and sound clips here on the projects, I'm betting they will be killer sounding.
 
Steve A. 6/27/2014 3:28 AM
[QUOTE=Joe L;350815]Those were definitely the dawning days of the clone explosion![/QUOTE] Your legacy lives on... perhaps more of a firecracker than a big explosion but I figured out how to rewire the preamps of the discontinued Crate V18's and V33's preamps that of an SLO- the architecture was very similar so it was a matter of replacing some of the components. Without a carefully designed layout it couldn't handle the higher gain levels without howling back at you but these rewired amps got some really nice lower-gain sounds. (I used GT5751M's for the 2 preamp tubes- they reportedly have about 40% of the gain of a strong 12AX7.) Here's a link to that thread over at TGP that has 846 posts (not all SLO mods.) [url=http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=464873]Crate V18: Mods and Conversions - The Gear Page[/url] I came up with a "color-by-numbers" approach on the layout drawing, showing which parts to remove or replace, etc., which made it easy for n00bies to do the mods... [IMG]http://music-electronics-forum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=29430&d=1403860711[/IMG] Steve Ahola
 
Slobrain 6/27/2014 7:17 AM
I have to say I like the M-E-F format T-boy made here but in translation something was lost when switched from Ampage to M-E-F. I can remember Ampage was constantly thriving in the late 90s with many good techs and many new folks always showing up and getting into the guitar-amp- mod game. Reading the post on Ampage was incredible. I would sit for hours at the PC reading and learning and enjoying the new stuff being put on Ampage every day. It was like an adventure at Ampage. During the late 90s I learned so much from the good folks from Ampage. But seems now, M-E-F isn't thriving like Ampage did. I guess its sort of like music from the 70s/80s, then the shift in the early 90s that seems to change the face of rock n roll. Some things are just classic... Just my thoughts for this morning. Mitch aka Slobrain. That name Slobrain started out as a joke BTW...
 
Steve A. 6/27/2014 2:00 PM
[QUOTE=Slobrain;350920]I have to say I like the M-E-F format T-boy made here but in translation something was lost when switched from Ampage to M-E-F.[/QUOTE] AFAIK tboy had written and was supporting the software that was running AMPAGE- back in the mid-90's there was NO canned software for BBS-style forums (at least nothing with the features of tboy's software.) My guess is that it became too much of a hassle (or too time-consuming) for tboy to keep improving and supporting his own software so he switched to canned software for MEF. One issue that many old-timers objected to was having to a register to be able to post at MEF and we lost many of them for that reason. The darn libertarian desire to be completely anonymous if so desired. I know that a lot of members were logging on mainly from work (posts would drop off considerably on weekends) so perhaps that had something to do with not wanting to register. I liked the idea of accountability. I remember Randall Aiken getting caught using a phony name to post very inane comments as a joke. (I think he signed his own name to one of them and the secret was out.) That was cool but it wasn't cool when someone made a very derogatory post ripping into Andy Fuchs using my name. [QUOTE]Mitch aka Slobrain. That name Slobrain started out as a joke BTW...[/QUOTE] And I thought that you were awarded the name at a county fair, complete with a $5 prize and a blue ribbon... :spin: Steve
 
nickb 6/27/2014 4:44 PM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350440]Do what my friend Felix does- extend the fret channel right through the binding. :tape: He is blind but he has done at least 100 refret jobs- mainly on his own guitars, sanding down the fretboard for a wider radius and doing it all by touch. His girlfriend does help with hammering the frets in but he does the rest. His guitars have very low action- he doesn't care much for any guitar that he hasn't refretted himself. (His guitar playing is fucking incredible- think Eric Johnson but with a better grasp of blues...) Steve P.S. He might do some bound necks the right way- I was thinking of an Agile LP that he refretted...[/QUOTE] Off topic: Steve, I'd really like to hear Felix play - do you have anything-time for new thread maybe?
 
Steve A. 6/28/2014 1:38 AM
[QUOTE=nickb;350962]Off topic: Steve, I'd really like to hear Felix play - do you have anything-time for new thread maybe?[/QUOTE] I put this link to a YouTubeo back in Post #48 but here it is again... [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O617q5DLOfs[/url] Here is a link to BluesJanet's channel which has many videos of Felix (he's my favorite guitarist in the world!) [url]https://www.youtube.com/user/Bluesjanet/videos[/url] Steve
 
Steve A. 6/28/2014 1:54 AM
Hmmm... my PRS SE has a bound neck with ramped frets
I got in a pack of 6130 pre-cut frets and radiused them with the mini-pliers I modified so that they didn't damage the tang or the crown. I was taking measurements on the SE245 because I want the frets to be like that. Guess what- the PRS neck is bound! They don't use the plastic creme-colored binding- it appears to be wood. Which is how they get a glass-like finish on the neck going up to the fretboard. (For the PRS SE guitars my guess is that they start off with frets cut by CNC machinery to fit in the slot between the wood binding, with different lengths and heights and then they level and dress them once they have been pressed into the fret slots. PRS uses glue on their frets for their US models- I suspect that they do that with their SE models as well.) In measuring the height of the SE245 frets they go from around .047 at the 1st fret down to around .037 at the 12th fret and .032 at the 22nd fret. So it looks like these frets are ramped, getting lower as they get closer to the bridge. In any case, I have put the PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow project on hold indefinitely until I feel comfortable dealing with a bound neck... So what to do with the 6130 frets? As suggested here I can practice on one of my junkers with a bolt-on neck. I did have a question about what grit sandpaper to use for leveling the frets. What grits should I start with and what grits should I end with? I got a second Empire 540.24 level (~$11) which I am going to trim down. I've seen levelers listed going from 15" to 19". Any recommendations? I want to lower the XJ frets in one of my LTD EC-256 guitars... Thanks! Steve Ahola
 
nickb 6/28/2014 10:43 AM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350989]I put this link to a YouTubeo back in Post #48 but here it is again... [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O617q5DLOfs[/url] Here is a link to BluesJanet's channel which has many videos of Felix (he's my favorite guitarist in the world!) [url]https://www.youtube.com/user/Bluesjanet/videos[/url] Steve[/QUOTE] Thanks!
 
Steve A. 6/28/2014 2:25 PM
[QUOTE=nickb;351007]Thanks![/QUOTE] Here is one with Felix singing "Red House" playing some of the coolest blues guitar ever... [video=youtube;3JBSkNnGBMU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JBSkNnGBMU[/video]
 
David Schwab 6/28/2014 2:57 PM
[QUOTE=dmartn149;350225]If you can buy frets already shaped to the correct radius, that's the way to go. when I re-fretted my Charvel I found that to be the most difficult part. I had thought that they would take the shape of the fret board when I tapped them in, WRONG! I didn't buy any special tools, so it was rather tedious, but it came out really good and it plays great.[/QUOTE] If you are hammering them in, you need to bend them to a radius slightly smaller than the fingerboard. This keep the ends seated well. If you are pressing them in they can be closer to the actual radius, but I over radius them anyway. I used to radius them by hand with a specially modified pair of pliers, but for about the past 25-30 years I have been using a Stew mac fret bender. I believe the SE uses medium jumbo wire.
 
David Schwab 6/28/2014 3:01 PM
[QUOTE=Steve A.;350990]Guess what- the PRS neck is bound! They don't use the plastic creme-colored binding- it appears to be wood. Which is how they get a glass-like finish on the neck going up to the fretboard.[/QUOTE] Is it bound, or did they cut the fret slots shy of the edge and notch the tangs back on the frets? Easy to do with CNC, and some fingerboard suppliers will make them like that for you. [url]http://www.birkonium.com/product-category/semi-custom-fretboards/[/url] [ATTACH=CONFIG]29453[/ATTACH] Some companies also cut the tangs back and then fill the slots with either wood filler, or sawdust and glue. You need one of these for bound necks. [URL="http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Fretting/Pullers_nippers_sizing/Fret_Tang_Nipper.html"]STEWMAC.COM - Fret Tang Nipper[/URL] Or, you can use a flush cutter and small file to remove the tangs.
 
Steve A. 6/29/2014 1:40 PM
[QUOTE=David Schwab;351027]Is it bound, or did they cut the fret slots shy of the edge and notch the tangs back on the frets? [url]http://www.birkonium.com/product-category/semi-custom-fretboards/[/url][/quote] The second choice. What looked like wood binding is the fretboard with the frets not cut all of the way through. [quote]You need one of these for bound necks. [URL="http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Fretting/Pullers_nippers_sizing/Fret_Tang_Nipper.html"]STEWMAC.COM - Fret Tang Nipper[/URL] Or, you can use a flush cutter and small file to remove the tangs.[/QUOTE] What size flush cutter (a bigger size than the fret puller?) As for the Stew-Mac cutters the wide one should work most of the time- right? 0.100" to 0.120" (I don't think that I'll be using the narrower frets .070-.095".) Here's a link that shows a $3.97 alternative to the Stew-Mac tool with the needed modifications done with a Dremel tool. The nibblers at Radio Shack are long gone but Amazon has inexpensive ones for $12-25. [url=http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/archives/threads.php?id=1312_0_5_0_C]Fret tang nipper on the cheap[/url] Another question: do you use a soldering iron to heat frets when you remove them? I read that it is necessary (or highly-recommended) if the frets have been glued in. If you do what wattage and tip do you use? I assume that you would have the tip perpendicular to the fret so it can't slide off and burn the fretboard. Thanks! Steve
 
David Schwab 6/30/2014 10:02 AM
[QUOTE=tedmich;350412]-Don't undercut the tang on the outside ends (with the special cutters or manually) to accommodate a neck binding (yuck!) or to do slot refilling, as it makes the fret quite a bit less stable.[/QUOTE] Seriously? People have been doing that for decades. It works perfectly fine. These frets have been on this bass, and guitar for 20 years. No problems at all. Rosewood binding: [IMG]http://www.sgd-lutherie.com/images/rosewood_binding.jpg[/IMG] Plastic binding: [IMG]http://www.sgd-lutherie.com/images/binding.jpg[/IMG] It's a much better solution than the way Gibson does it, ending the fret at the binding. If your frets are that lose, that little bit of missing tang isn't going to help.
 
David Schwab 6/30/2014 10:08 AM
[QUOTE=tedmich;350446]As a hired pro, of course you have to do what the customer wants, but for me bound fret boards are wasted effort and material like bound bodies.[/QUOTE] It's a very classy detail. Has nothing to do with Gibson or Fender. Binding has been used for a very long time. Look at the unbound cheaper Les Pauls. They look cheap. That was just a cost cutting move more than anything else, and it looks like it. It's very un-craftsman like. Binding is just one of those extra visual details. [IMG]http://www.sgd-lutherie.com/images/DSC02732.jpg[/IMG]
 
Jim Darr 7/1/2014 7:34 AM
Just found this thread. Very good info here!!!
 
Rick Turner 7/1/2014 9:07 AM
When I visted the Cort factory in Korea, they had an automatic machine cutting frets to exact length and notching back the tangs for installation on bound fretboards. They'd set it up for doing 500 1st frets, 500 2nd frets, etc. and the machine was running full time. At Fender, however, in about 2006, they were wasting a good 1 1/2" of fret wire per fret with overhanging wire. Go figure... The supplier for fret slot milling cutters designed for rosewood and ebony is "Precise Bits". Great stuff. We use the .025" bits. [url=http://www.precisebits.com/products/carbidebits/fret-cutter.asp]UltraBIT Fret Cutters[/url] The trick is figuring out speeds and feeds. Yes, you can do closed end slots with these. We also run a "V" cutter to slightly bevel the edges of the fret slots for easier fret insertion and to help prevent chip-outs when refretting in the future. Love that CNC machine...
 
Slobrain 7/2/2014 7:59 AM
[QUOTE=Rick Turner;351231]When I visted the Cort factory in Korea, they had an automatic machine cutting frets to exact length and notching back the tangs for installation on bound fretboards. They'd set it up for doing 500 1st frets, 500 2nd frets, etc. and the machine was running full time. At Fender, however, in about 2006, they were wasting a good 1 1/2" of fret wire per fret with overhanging wire. Go figure... The supplier for fret slot milling cutters designed for rosewood and ebony is "Precise Bits". Great stuff. We use the .025" bits. [url=http://www.precisebits.com/products/carbidebits/fret-cutter.asp]UltraBIT Fret Cutters[/url] The trick is figuring out speeds and feeds. Yes, you can do closed end slots with these. We also run a "V" cutter to slightly bevel the edges of the fret slots for easier fret insertion and to help prevent chip-outs when refretting in the future. Love that CNC machine...[/QUOTE] Hey Rick, Does the Cort factory cure its wood that they use in guitar builds? I have to ask, after working on a bunch of Squier strat necks I always notice the fretboards are not consistent from one end to the other by having dips or humps. which I think maybe the wood isn't cured right or just cheap wood in general... I had to ask as its the Indo Cortek factory that build the Squier necks, some are Cortek/Samick. surprisingly, the build of the Squier necks are similar to Mighty Mite neck builds. I wonder who really builds the MM necks? Cheers BTW, can you post some pics of the CNC and other stuff you guys use in building guitars? Thanks