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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

'73 Maple Refret Questions

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by vintagerockr, Jul 30, 2017.

  1. vintagerockr

    vintagerockr TDPRI Member

    5
    Jul 30, 2017
    Oregon
    My '73 Tele maple neck is in dire need of a re-fret. This particular year has a very heavily lacquered fretboard which makes it hard to find anyone willing to do a decent job that ends up anything like it's factory self. Some guys want to pull the frets out sideways, others want to remove all the lacquer and start over. I am a player, not a collector so I am open to any suggestions but I've always loved the feel this particular setup has. Your fingers glide up and down the neck. I replaced the neck with a rosewood fretboard Tele neck and couldn't stand the way it played or sounded. Yes, sounded. I had no idea the neck had that much to do with the actual tone of the guitar. Especially since the electronics and hardware are son of son of Frankenstein xxx and will make the purists cry to Leo's mommy. EMG active humbucks and Answer Wunderbar. It was my first real guitar. $449 with the case back in '73 at Amercan Music in The Dalles, Oregon. I worked all summer for $1.50 an hour and was the proudest kid anywhere when my folks gave me the ok to buy it. They had discussed the issue with their friends who were classical musicians and were told (correctly) that if I was serious about playing I should have an instrument that wouldn't hold me back like the no-name electric with the coins shimming the neck that I was gigging with. So..... replace or re-fret? with what? Does anyone make maple necks with that big lacquer buildup anyhere? How exactly did Fender finish those necks? They were only that way for a couple of years and most of the luthiers I've spoken with get that "Oh Crap" look on their face when I show it to them.
     

  2. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    The necks were painted with a single coat of the then new polyester paint. It was a high build finish. You can buy similar poly today. Floor varnishes tend to be high-build.

    I would find the most experienced guy you can find - the reason many have suggested pulling the old ones out sideways is that Fender fretted some that way new, although I thought it was mainly veneer rosewood boards. There's a small chance of taking chunks out of the fretboard pulling them out straight up but an experienced luthier should be able to do either.
     
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  3. tunerfish

    tunerfish TDPRI Member

    27
    Apr 23, 2011
    Tennessee
    I worked summer of '74 to buy my first guitar, a D35 Guild for $300. Still play it.
    I had my 1968 maple cap tele into Joe Glaser to dress the low frets twice before I finally agreed to a refret and PLEK - yes it slightly altered the tone and it bugged me, but my ears got used to the change, and it plays so much better.
    You can also check the GE Smith Fender necks. They are slathered in poly.
     
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  4. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

    556
    Feb 9, 2014
    NE US
    To me the economics say replace. I know it's tough to know what type to replace, if you have some friends with a Tele maybe they would let you try on theirs for comparison. You can try a similar style (number of frets, overhang, etc.) Strat neck too, the corners in the neck pocket are rounded and leave gaps but it fits. If you have to have the original neck then a refret is worth taking a chance. If I replaced I'd still keep the neck, might get more with both body & neck if/when you part with it.
     
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  5. vintagerockr

    vintagerockr TDPRI Member

    5
    Jul 30, 2017
    Oregon
    I have heard rumors of people using some kind of solvent that softens the finish before pulling and installing new frets, leaving the original finish intact after it dries. Anyone out there know anything about that?
     

  6. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    My '70 was refretted about 15 years ago. The stock neck was fretted, then sprayed in heavy poly after the frets were installed. That's the way Fender does it. When you're using small vintage frets, you don't have much useable fret left after finishing. Fender still does it that way, but the Fender replacement neck I just put on one of my guitars, is a much cleaner job, without all the poly surrounding the long-edge of the frets. That being said, I did have a '70s reissue Strat about 10 years ago that was sprayed after the frets were installed, with enough poly to barely expose the frets. My '70 Tele neck needed to be stripped and sanded all over, so that's what I had done. The luthier did also spray the fretboard after he installed the frets, same way it came stock. I went a little larger with the fret wire I specified. And, I ent with stainless. A little risky for a vintage guitar, But I also play mine and now I don't worry about wearing the frets. Besides, there's nothing smoother than stainless frets. I like the outcome.

    HPIM0176.JPG
     
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  7. AlabamaOutlaw

    AlabamaOutlaw Tele-Meister

    403
    Feb 20, 2011
    Alabama
    I'll second the stainless steel fretwire, I use it on everything these days!
     
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  8. vintagerockr

    vintagerockr TDPRI Member

    5
    Jul 30, 2017
    Oregon
    Funny you mentioned that. A friend of mine offered me twice what I originally paid for the guitar for the neck alone. I could buy at least 4 necks to try out........ hmmmm
     

  9. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    NY
    You've had the guitar since 1973! Replacing the neck is NOT an option in my mind.
     
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  10. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    If I recall, I paid $1200 to have the neck pickup rewound by Lindy Fralin, the neck stripped and refinished (excluding the peghead face), re-nitro the peghead face, refret, wet sanding the grime off the body, new bone nut and set-up. I thought that was a lot at the time, but the more I think about it, that's a lot of work for the price.
     
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  11. rob2

    rob2 Tele-Meister

    410
    Apr 25, 2009
    Cork,Ireland
    I'd advise getting someone competent to do the sideways removal unless you want the thick finish cracked badly and the maple board possibly ripped up...Fender fretted all their necks from the side until 1982,using a weird foot-pedal powered machine of Leo's design...the frets partly cut their own way in.Properly done it gives a very solid fret,less likely to come loose...but when removing the frets its more likely to damage the board.
    They went in from the bass side and I think are often reversed out.'70's necks apparently benefit from heating the frets to loosen the poly a bit. Whatever you get done avoid stripping the finish,it will totally devalue the neck if you want to sell separately,if you have grey wear marks they will be under the new finish and you will lose the comfortable feel of a neck you've broken in to your own patterns assuming its well worn by now.If you are replacing with vintage frets perhaps you could get away with a partial refret.
     
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