Strange question: fretboard issue on Gibson???

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by sean79, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    I'm not sure what part of the forum this should be in, but I know that the guys here know a lot about this stuff (even though it's not a Tele).

    I have an early 90s (I think) Les Paul Studio. The ebony fretboard does not really fit the rest of the neck - it's a little bit narrower in spots and a little bit wider in others. If you're looking for it, you can see it (especially since the lacquer has cracked some), but you can definitely feel it.

    The variance isn't more than 1/64 of an inch - it's as if the fretboard is a little too wide at the nut, a little too skinny around the fifth fret, and a little too wide around the twelfth fret.

    Can I attribute this issue to the way the different woods shrank over time (mahogany vs. ebony, I believe)? Or, is it more likely from a quality control issue at Gibson?

    And... what's the best way to fix it? The guitar is a solid color, and I think it has a clear top coat. It looks like the clear lacquer has been applied on the edge of the ebony fretboard (no binding on the Studio). Along most of that length, where the two woods meet, it looks like the finish is cracked or raised. It's not noticeable at ten feet, but it is visible up close, and my hands notice it all the time - the finish and the not-quite-the-same-width woods.
     
  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    14,029
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Location:
    SC (S)lowcountry
    Can you post some photos?

    I think you are correct in that the fretboard has probably shrunk unevenly.

    I thought only the Alpine White studios has ebony fretboards, but maybe with the early ones they all did???

    I'm not sure how you could fix it. Could the fretboard be bound? I wonder what the cost would be.

    Just another thought: If you bought the guitar new, Gibson's warranty might cover a fix???
     
  3. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    I tried to take some photos earlier, but they really didn't seem to be coming out. It's a black on ebony transition, and it got too blurry when I got close enough to where I thought it might show the issue.

    The guitar was not new, so I'm guessing any warranty work is out. I was hoping for a solution a lot more simple (and cheaper) than binding. That would be a lot of work.
     
  4. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    45
    Posts:
    2,666
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2009
    Location:
    Reading, Massachusetts
    I, too, think the wood has shrunk unevenly.

    If you've got a block plane, it would be pretty easy to CAREFULLY plane the transition between FB and neck, then finish with a spokeshave near the headstock where the plane won't fit. If you plane on a slant, you'll avoid taking a ding out of the cutting edge when the plane iron hits a fret end.

    Failing that, a sanding block will do the same thing, only it'll take longer and require finish sanding. Either way, you're removing the projecting bits, be they FB or neck.

    Refinish with the clear topcoat of your choice, after repainting the newly-exposed neck wood.

    Binding is FAR from the easiest fix, and shouldn't be attempted here IMO.
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    21,240
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2003
    Location:
    Ontario County
    I'd avoid messing with it to the point where you remove material. All the early studios had ebony and dot fretboards. I wonder if you could drop fill some superglue in the low spots and avoid messing with the fretboard? Thicker superglue and accelerator might be the ticket. This time of year fretboards shrink across the width more than you think. Lastly, ebony is the least dimensionally stable of your most common fretboard woods I believe.

    You can always sell if off for one with a rosewood board too. Lots of Studios of all types are out there now. I just got a cool faded ebony one in the mail yesterday.
     
  6. lendryesky

    lendryesky Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    37
    Posts:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan
    Most new Gibsons (not early 90's) have this problem to some extent. I remember playing a Joe Bonamassa Studo Les Paul that the fretboard was really uneven up and down. There are other examples I've played too, which has been the majority. I don't want to start a Gibson QC flame war, because while my Gibson Les Paul special has this problem, I love it.

    It sounds, however, in this case it probably is the wood shrinking unevenly.
     
  7. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    Thanks, everyone. Assuming it happened (or is happening) because of uneven shrinking, do you all think that both pieces of wood are done shrinking? I'd hate to fix and refinish, only to have it keep happening. To what extent would you all think it's a seasonal thing (extra shrinkage in the dryer winter months)?
     
  8. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    3,732
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
    Location:
    Brentwood, TN
    Take some photos with no flash, but a well lit setting, and on macro if you can. Worth a thousand words.
     
  9. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    The guitar is at work; I'm not planning on going back until Monday. I did try to take a photo today, but it did not come out very clear at all. I was just using my phone's camera. If I think about it, I'll take a regular camera in next week.
     
  10. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    Okay... I still forgot to take a regular camera to work, but I was able to get a couple shots that sort of show it. Part of it is lacquer cracking, but I think you can see that the fretboard is narrower and/or wider than the rest of the neck in different places. Maybe I'm mostly feeling the bubbled/cracked clear coat, but the difference in wood widths is definitely part of it. And maybe the lacquer cracked because of the movement of the different woods. I don't know... but here's a picture.
    [​IMG]

    I'm thinking that I might try some real fine grit sandpaper on a block to knock the cracked finish down - does anyone foresee any problems with that approach?

    I've also got some finish cracking at the joint where the neck meets the body. Is that somewhat common?
     
  11. brianswindall

    brianswindall Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,586
    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    If you like the guitar why not just leave it? I have an old Harmony Rocket like that and I wouldn't think of changing it.
     
  12. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    I like the guitar, except for the issue with the fretboard joint. It doesn't bug me enough to make me want to dump it, but I think I'd like it better if I didn't feel that joint. I'm not worried that it's visible (it's far from the only cosmetic blemish on this guitar), but it feels weird...
     
  13. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,261
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    I read recently that some of the early 90's Studios actually have Maple Necks. I wonder if it's a case of the woods expanding at different rates, as you mentioned.

    See post 58 in particular -
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=1117031&page=2

    but there's a lot of cool info from Rastus in that thread.
     
  14. loopy reed

    loopy reed Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,010
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Are the fret ends poking out where the fretboard is narrower? That would be evidence of the wood shrinking, since the metal isn't gonna shrink with the wood...
     
  15. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    Thanks.

    I did not know that. I just assumed it had the mahogany neck.

    If they're sticking out, it's not much. The lacquer is broken/flaked off at some of the fret ends, so it's tough to say if they're sticking out further than they were from the factory or not - they're not sticking out past the lacquer layer. Most of the fretboard seems to be a little wider than the neck, but I'm not sure if the fret ends are making it to the very end of the fretboard. The thickness of the flaking/bubbled lacquer is throwing me (and my eyes are not as good as they used to be). I'll see if I can check it out a little closer.
     
  16. sean79

    sean79 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    northcentral/western Pennsylvania
    Just an update...

    Earlier today, I got a sanding block and tried to knock those joint edges down. I was worried about sanding through the paint, and I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.

    Started with 320, then went to knock out the scratches with some finer grit. I also attacked a big spot where it looked like the clear lacquer had flaked off the back of the neck - probably the size of two dimes next to each other. Those neck dings (you can see them in one of the pictures) were also addressed. Cleaned up some fret ends while I was at it.

    It turned out great... totally surprised me. I wish I would have done this a long time ago. I did end up with a little bit of sand-through, but only small spots on the back of the neck. Still, they feel smooth. BTW, this one looks like it's got a mahogany neck... I might see if I can clean a couple joint spots up a little better at some point, but I'm loving this thing right now.
     
  17. Ed Miller

    Ed Miller Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    326
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Location:
    Coldwater, MI
    take it to a reputable repair shop that can fill the spaces with drop fill. when it hardens it can be filed and sanded level and the over sprayed and buffed.it should fix the problem.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.