Opinions on 1976 Stratocaster refret

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by FuncleManson, Jun 7, 2021.

  1. FuncleManson

    FuncleManson TDPRI Member

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    Hi,

    I was hoping to get some input from the knowledgeable folks here on refretting my 1976 Strat. I've owned it since 1985 and it was my only electric for almost 20 years. I've pretty much played the frets off of it (12th fret at the high E string measures .012" high). It's currently set up for slide.

    I guess my options would be:
    a) Leave it as is, set up for slide.
    b) Re-neck it with a '70's style neck with SS frets. I'd much prefer to keep the original neck--sentimental attachment.
    c) Send it to Aperio (or someone comparable) for a stainless refret. I don't really know/have a luthier.

    Which brings me to my fourth option: do a stainless refret myself. I've got most of the basic tools (press, fret hammer, soldering iron, fret pullers), but I'd need to buy a heavy-duty set of nippers and probably a few files. I'm retiring at the end of this week, so I should have plenty of time to work on it (and also less money to send it to Aperio, for example :rolleyes: ).

    My biggest concern is that according to some Youtube videos I've watched, Fender was putting the frets in from the side at the time, which would lead to more tear-out if pulled from the top. She's a very beat up old girl, so nothing I do would have to be too pristine, but I was just wondering if pulling the frets from the top would be possible or an absolute "no." I'm not sure that in some spots there's enough fret left to tap them out from the side.

    If you have experience with this, I'd love to hear your opinions. Thanks in advance!

    20190730_173342.jpg
     
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  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pay a well reputed pro to refret it with original spec wire.
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I refret a lot of guitars. I have only done one refret of a lacquered maple board and I swore I would not do that again. I have never refretted a side fretted neck but I think I probably could - Erlewine has a very good description in his book on guitar repair.

    I would suggest getting Dan's book and reading it thinking about what your experience and capabilities are. Think about the problems of maintaining the finish on your neck or stripping and refinishing it, you will be doing one or the other. Think about dressing the frets while you also deal with the finish. Stainless will make it worse but of course it will mean longer until you have to do it again.

    The other factor in my decision is that these were not my own guitars or fretboards - its easy for me to say no if I get asked to do this again.
     
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  4. Laxy picker

    Laxy picker TDPRI Member

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    I would put it a showcase on the wall and get another guitar. It served you well and has more value as is.
    Many serious collectors will not touch a guitar that has been re fretted or as this one will need because of the manufacturer build process some finish work.
    I suggest broadening your horizons and have this guitar on display as a conversion piece.
     
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  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    If it were mine, I’d buy a neck with tuning keys from Stratosphere and save the original neck in case you want to sell it one day. Don’t alter the original neck in any way.
     
  6. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

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    Even after refretting a few of my guitars, the thought of doing a job with stainless over a gloss maple fretboard gives me pause. I'd have a trusted luthier do it.
     
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  7. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    Refretting isn't necessarily all that difficult for someone with a sharp eye, a steady hand, the right tools, and a lot of patience, but a treasured vintage instrument probably isn't the best thing to test your skills on. Especially with the added complexities of a maple neck and stainless steel.

    I'd find an experienced repairperson (you can pull the neck and send it out if you really have nobody local) or watch some videos, read up a bit, and find a few cheap junkers to practice on first before attempting any work on your guitar.
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Have a pro do it. The value of CBS instruments have risen greatly over the years. A DIY job could ruin that in a flash. Fretting in itself is an artform and stainless ups that a bit. Don't try this at home. I'd get it done and enjoy it. It's not a '54 strat.
     
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  9. Jipes

    Jipes Tele-Meister

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    There's a video of Dan Erlewine doing this type of delicate refretting on Mike Bloomfield Telecaster



    This video shows how to remove the frets sideway to avoid the big tear out



    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Beebe

    Beebe Tele-Meister

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    I think JL_LI has a great idea. Though I would install Gotoh vintage staggered tuning keys myself. They are about $40 and work great with no string trees. I've been super pleased with every All Parts neck I've ever purchased... Maybe close to 10 now. You can get a great maple neck for something ridiculous like $109, and a rosewood (yup still available) fingerboard for slightly more. Just rub some Tru oil, Danish oil, or other hardwax oil like Rubio Monocoat Oil plus 2C on it, and you'll be good to go. You can get the nut perfect as well by building it yourself. You can get a piece of bone for a few bucks from Philadelphia Luthier, or pay slightly more for one cut and curved for a Fender from StewMac.
     
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  11. Beebe

    Beebe Tele-Meister

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    ... actually you'll need to dress the fret ends as well... then good to go. And "Made in Japan" is another huge plus of the All Parts neck in my book.

    Edit: forgot some fret leveling will need to be done as well. If you are into doing all these things then All Parts unfinished necks are great...
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
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  12. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Tele-Meister

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    Have it refretted.
    With knackered frets, it's just an old guitar with knackered frets.It's never going to be super valuable, so don't get hung up on originality and value. Ina any case, it'll be worth less with knackered frets.
     
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  13. Beebe

    Beebe Tele-Meister

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    I should mention. They have a bullet truss rod strat neck with CBS Headstock as well. Here's on a build I did recently: IMG_20210329_150402519.jpg
     
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  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'd get it professionally redone. Which will give you another forty years and enhance rather than destroy value. You can get the neck peel fixed too.
     
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  15. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Have it refretted by a pro.
    Guitars are meant to be played.
    Frets are like tires,when they are done you replace them.
    I find the "use a new neck" option despicable, your treasured guitar IS the neck.
     
  16. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Just do it. If you're careful taking the frets out, you can pull them from the top. It's not too difficult to remove them sideways, with a bit of heat. Putting new ones in is easy enough.
     
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  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Up until about five to seven years ago all the 70s guitars were considered 'junk' on all the forums, you didn't have a proper vintage guitar unless it came from the 50s or 60s. Now the 70s are getting precious.

    Use the video previously posted for how to side-remove frets. Then go about chamfering the grooves (triangle file to break the edges slightly) and do conventional top down installation of new stainless frets. As long as you are not trying to re-surface the fretboard and spray new finish on it then you are not 'voiding any vintageness warranty'. Many buyers know guitars get refretted.

    Stainless frets are no more trouble than conventional wire if you modify your process. Too many installers are doggedly adhering to what they've always done and end up with problems.

    Pre-cut the frets to length plus the filing allowance (don't hang the frets an inch over both sides to be cut off after pressing in), use a fret numbered hole board to keep track of the frets in order. The stainless wire is harder and more brittle than regular wire. Use regular nippers and cut through the 'wings' of the 'T' until you score the tang. Then bend the wire and it breaks at the score line. If you try nipping with the wires installed in the fretboard, even with the super hard expensive nippers the wire will 'snap' when cutting and often bend the wire end or jig up the wire from the slot. And if you leave too long of wire over both sides of the fretboard you are making 44 cuts not 22 cuts -- "your hand will hurt", plus 44 times of potential problems. So cut them to length + file allowance (the angled bevel file that files the frets flush to the neck) and keep track of their order.

    The Kirn "leveling yer tele frets" thread on TDPRI will help with keeping your refret costs low and cover what you need to do.

    Of course, if this is a guitar you think you will sell in the next five years, then reconsider leaving it as-is and let the new buyer decide to proceed with their own leave/refret option. But if this is 'the one' that you've played forever and the last you'd ever sell even if impoverished then do a stainless refret.

    .
     
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  18. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    My gut is to send it to Aperio. But first .... are you absolutely sure you want stainless? I'm a massive fan of them, but, it did give a totally new feel to the playing of the guitar. I'd hate if you were to slap some stainless on there, you get it back, and you decide you don't like the slickness of stainless steel frets.

    Because ... I looked closer at your guitar and not only do I love it but the natural aging really makes it unique...so my gut is to keep the original neck and upgrade the frets.

    It sounds like you are capable of putting a neck on yourself and completing a setup.

    You can take the neck off, send it off to Aperio, when it comes back, slap it on, setup, and boom. But, you might be without a guitar for 'x' number of weeks, so that is something to consider.

    I am also a fan of getting a new neck, that way you don't compromise the old one. But I am guessing the cost of new neck <-> Aperio refret is going to be relatively close. Either way, I guess $350 - $450 I believe. So either route you will be shelling out some $.

    Love the guitar! And congrats on the retirement.

    Hey just thought of something - how about getting an inexpensive neck that is spec'd pretty close to your existing and trying a practice run of refretting with stainless? You'll have the time now! Just a thought. At least that will give you some experience when you try the real neck.

    LOL I just gave you three options, glad I was able to narrow it down for ya!
     
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  19. FuncleManson

    FuncleManson TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for all the great responses.

    Here's just a little more background to explain my mindset. If it gets refretted--by me or a pro--I definitely want stainless steel. I have three Parkers, a Harley Benton and three partscasters I've assembled that all have SS and I love them.

    Originality and resale value are not factors at all. It wasn't original when I bought it in 1985. It has a brass nut and a five-way switch with a mini-toggle for phase shifting in positions 2 and 4. I don't plan on ever selling it and I honestly don't think it would bring much anyway. It's really beat up. I don't love it because it's valuable or vintage, but because it was my first "good" (non-department store) electric.

    My thoughts were basically this: worst case scenario and I screw it up, options a) leave it as is, set up for slide and b) re-neck it with a '70's style neck with SS frets, would still be viable and maybe even c) send it to Aperio, if I hadn't butchered it too badly.

    I'd just like to be able to play it again (fretted) and I figured I might learn valuable a new skill in the process. I'm still ultimately undecided whether I should go for it, but I'm not in any hurry. I've got three more partscasters I'm working on, so plenty of time to consider it in the meantime.

    Thanks again for all of your input.
     
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