Opinions on 1976 Stratocaster refret

ElJay370

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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.

Speaking as a former full time and current part time guitar tech....in general, any repair will be more difficult and take more time if I have to undo someone else's work, and will be priced accordingly. Just saying.
 

Freeman Keller

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Thanks for all the great responses.

Going back to your earlier question - I did bring my copy of the Erlewine repair book in and read the section on refretting side fretted necks. Basically he says you can do it two ways - driving the frets out sideways (either to the bass or treble, there are advantages to each) results in less chip out but likely will damage the finish. Pulling them in the usual fashion will cause more chipping and will likely damage the finish. In either case you hammer or press them in as normal - he does not recommend trying to side fret.

He really doesn't spend a lot of time talking about finish repair but I gather that he likes the worn look of old finish. The one that I did was a relatively new bass with immaculate finish - I pull the frets and replaced them in the usual fashion. It was a bound board so driving them out sideways made no sense. Here is some of my frustration

https://www.tdpri.com/threads/refretting-a-lacquered-fretboard.1025026/

The owner was raving about my great work as I was swearing never to do it again.

I'll add that I do SS frets when asked, they are certainly more work but if that's what you wanted its reasonable to do it.
 

Killing Floor

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I would let a pro do it. It's a rockin' guitar. It needs to be played. If it was good enough for all the years you sweated on it, it's good enough to refret it. But because of the age and other concerns I'd send it to the best luthier you know. Good luck.
 

macduff

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I am late to this thread but wanted to add that I have a 1976 Strat that I bought new. I wore the frets down playing year after year of shows, sometimes 3 dates per week. Eventually I had it refretted by a company that should not touch a guitar. They ruined the neck by pulling the frets up and out, didn’t level or polish them, and sprayed a thick layer of clear over everything. I parked it for over 20 years.

Finally I took it to Elderly instruments in Lansing, Michigan. A few weeks later, I picked it up and it’s is jaw dropping. Absolutely beautiful, and done perfectly. It is again my number one I don’t care about the collector value, but it is all original except the frets and clear on the maple neck. If you love to play your guitar, do it. If you are a collector, different rules apply.
 
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Blue Bill

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I'll chime in with the crowd that says: Have an experienced looth do the job. Accept the reality that the fretboard finish may end up with a chip or two. Some of the happiest days of my life were getting a treasured, but worn out, guitar re-fretted; it's like getting an old friend back. To me it seems crazy to do your first re-fret attempt on your favorite maple fretboard neck. At least do a couple practice necks first. I think you will be the happiest guy in town if you get a pro re-fret, with SS frets!
 

Mojotron

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You would never want to learn to do a fret job on an older instrument - and certainly would not want to take on SS frets without a lot of experience with normal fretwire.

I sent a Fly to Mike Lull Custom guitars in Seattle to have a few frets glued back on and to have the whole neck PLEKed - that was an amazing job they did.

After having Parker NiteFlys and Flys for years I started making my own necks and got more of the tone I was after from normal fretwire and started doing all of my own fretwork. SS frets are no fun to work on. Sounds like this is not a fret job to learn on. If you send it somewhere - get them to PLEK your SS frets and nut. It's worth so much more than just having someone level and crown the frets.
 

SacDAve

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Looks great Your right you can't put a price on an old trusted friend.
 

FuncleManson

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Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I thought I'd give an update on how this turned out, if anyone is interested.

All-in-all, I'd say a very positive experience. I learned a lot and have a playable guitar again! There were a few mishaps, but nothing fatal, and a couple of things I would probably do differently if I was doing it again, like narrower frets.

1st day
2nd day
3rd day

More 3rd day:
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Second big oops while removing the nut :mad:. Tap away from the headstock idiot. Nothing structural though. Glued it back in place.

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Done:
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Most of my concerns turned out to not be a problem.

I was worried about the sideways fret removal, but except for the one screw-up (see 1st Day), it really went pretty smoothly. I didn't think the stainless was hard to work with until it came to crowning and polishing. Cutting, leveling, beveling and rounding the ends was not a problem at all. I'd give the StewMac cutters and fret leveling file (which I also used for beveling the ends) high marks.

Crowning and polishing were much more difficult, despite using the $100+ StewMac Z-file. Could have been user error, but I'm not sure it was the best tool for the job. So the frets are still a little flat on top, more like Gibson frets.

I've got a little more rehabbing to do on her. I'll eventually replace the brass nut, which I've never really liked. For now, it's shimmed to account for the taller frets. Also, the rear tone pot has a broken shaft, so I think I'll just replace all three. I've never had her opened up in the 37 years I've owned her. Should be interesting.
 




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