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Refretting

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Hellmark, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. Hellmark

    Hellmark Tele-Holic

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    OK. Recently traded for a Gretsch Pro Jet that some one pulled all the frets from, and wanting to refret it. Now most of my friends seemed a bit freaked out at the idea of refretting themselves.

    Most of the difficulty is with fret leveling and recrowning, correct? My understanding has always been that, as long as you are patient, make sure that you get the proper curve, and trim it properly (especially the tang), it shouldn't be a problem getting them installed.

    This is a skill I would like to learn, and also save me a boatload of money (all the local shops want about $250 to put frets in it). Money that I would rather going towards a Tele or a Mustang amp.
     
  2. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I did a refret on a 65 SG Special and it wasn't so bad. Yes, the level and crown is the hardest part. What I did is use the longest and widest file that I could find, put in the new frets, color each with a sharpie, then file until you have eliminated all the sharpie. Then crown each fret.

    That neck is bound, right? If so you're going to have to trim the tang so the top of the fret extends over the binding to the edge of the fret board.

    It's a good idea to cover the fretboard and the pickups with masking tape. Keeps the file off the fretboard, and the metal dust out of the pickups
     
  3. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can do most of the job with cheaply obtained materials, but there's really no two ways around crowning. You pretty much need a crowning file for that part. On my early guitars I used to use needle files, but you need to be EXTREMELY careful, and the job would take the best part of a day. Not fun. As Ron K says in the linked post, with a crowning file that component will only take a few minutes.
     
  4. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

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    I beg to differ. For the L&Cs I do about every other year I'm fine doing it old school. Takes more skill but I already have a couple of converted triangle files.
     
  5. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    As mentioned earlier, the L&C is the least of your problems - if you do a stellar fret job you can probably do without it anyway if you're a high-action kinda bloke.

    Where you'll need to concentrate is cleaning out the slots, and making really sure you measure the slot depth and get appropriate fretwire. I would suggest getting some wire with a very short tang, and also a proper tool for cleaning slots (essential with the binding).

    Another issue might be the slots being a bit too wide. So reading up on clamping and gluing, or even crimping the tangs slightly might be required.

    Also, filing down the tangs on 44 fret ends will take AGES. A tang nipper saves so much hassle.

    You might find unless it's something you plan to keep doing ... $250 might be the cheaper option in the long run. Doing a refret without the correct tools is not fun at all.
     
  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    And I'll add that if you don't get pre-curved fret wire you'll have to bend it to the fretboard radius yourself.
    If it's too straight the ends will not lay down no matter how much you hammer them.
    Among other things.

    Did the previous "tech" sand the fingerboard?
    People do bad things to guitars and then sell them.
     
  7. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

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    ^this. big time.

    i burn through nickel frets pretty quick. my main guitar has gone through two sets of frets in the twelve or so years i've owned it. swapped for stainless the second time to hopefully prolong the next need to refret.

    this last time though, rather than paying $250-300 to refret... i did them myself. the edges were sloppy and sharp... the frets were unlevel, etc. took it to the shop... and just paid $60 for a level and polish. you don't need perfect fretwork... you just need to get it good enough so that the shop only charges you for the levelling and not the refretting :D
     
  8. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure what you're begging to differ with. As I said, you can take a very long time doing it with needle files and skill, or you can use the right tool for the job and do it in minutes with very little risk of messing things up.
     
  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The hardest part was done for you already when they cut the slots at the factory. :D It's all downhill from there!

    I agree that being very careful with prepping the slots is the next biggest thing. It's real easy for gunk to get down in there, and if the slots aren't perfectly clear, you're gonna have a bad time.

    There's a quantum leap in difficulty between crowning with a triangle file and crowning with a crowning file. My hat's off to guys who are comfortable using that triangle file, but no thanks. I use a router instead of a chisel for my binding slots, too. :oops:
     
  10. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

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    If you did your first crown 30 years ago then it just the way it was done. :D
     
  11. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Been wanting to do one of my own refrets as well. After spending a good bit of time watching a pro do many types of stringed instruments, I'm gonna give it a go. Yes, I'll prob flub it once or twice, but I expect to.

    Might start by replacing some poorly beveled ones on my cheapies.
     
  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is definitely a clever solution!

    I old-school-it with needle files because I like it. One downside to the crowning files is you cannot see what you're cutting until after you've cut it "oops, too deep!"
     
  13. Hellmark

    Hellmark Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, bound neck. I figure need to have something to help trim the tang. Everything will be covered to prevent filings from being a problem.

    Trying to find preradiused fretwire, but so far only seeing 9.5 and 7.25 for Fender, no 12". Would prefer stainless, but could do nickel.

    No, he didn't sand it. They included the old frets in a zip lock, and it seems like they got carried away trying to fretlevel, realized they went to far, pulled the frets to refret then realized they were in over their head and stopped.


    I am kind thinking this may be what I end up doing. I don't want to hose things up again.
     
  14. Mgeek

    Mgeek TDPRI Member

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    I've done a fret job without crowning files.

    levelled as normal, then just run a sanding sponge/paper up and down the fretboard a few times to knock the edges off the levelled frets.

    Not something I'd charge other people to do, but if you do get the knack, it works pretty good, and importantly for someone with bugger all patience like myself, it's a nice quick process.
     
  15. MEXbluesGUY

    MEXbluesGUY Tele-Meister

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    Good luck brotha. imma do my first couple re frets this summa.
     
  16. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I did a fret level and crown myself for the first time on a cheapy ESP guitar I bought off Craigslist. Just used a big flat file, masking tape, and some triangle files and some of those StewMac sponges with grit in them. It was really easy and took me maybe two hours of work after learnin' up on the Internet a bit. Came out great, I might add.

    I like the idea of taking it to the next level and doing a full on fret job one day. If I ever go down that route I will definitely try first on a beater guitar and will once again have to decide which tools are absolutely essential vs. which tools are optional. Learnin' up on the Internet will be part of the process. This is one of those deals where if you do it all the time the special tools are totally worth it, but if you do it maybe once a year maybe it's OK to get by with what you got. Two tools that I always find indispensable are 1) patience, making sure to measure twice and cut once; and 2) craftiness-- being creative and realizing there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It would be easier to put 9.5" radius wire on a 12"r board than the other way around.
    I like a little extra radius to ensure the ends are tight to the board, even more so with no tang under the fret ends.

    And while crowning is far easier with a crowning file than with a properly prepared triangle file (no please, not needle files!!), I don't consider level and crown to be harder than installing new frets WELL, especially with binding, and especially for the first time.
    It might be more accurate to say that poor install and excellent level and crown will play better than excellent install and poor level and crown.
     
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