Thoughts on "Fretless" 74 Thinline?

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Boreas, May 26, 2020.

  1. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    Just bought a clean 74 Thinline on eBay. The guitar frets were listed as "very little wear" on a guitar the seller was selling for a friend. I asked for pix of the nut and frets but was reassured all was fine. After receiving the guitar I contacted the seller and told him he was dead-wrong about the frets and a refret might cost me $500. He admitted he didn't look at the frets because his friend said they were OK. But since the guitar actually plays well as-is, we decided on a $250 refund.

    The frets are literally flat, but for some reason there are no buzzes and intonation is OK. I actually like it, but it feels fretless and a little weird. On the 7.5" radius, even string bends don't choke, but are a little gritty due to the flat tops. I would refret a rosewood neck, but don't believe I have the chops for a vintage maple neck. I am going to keep playing it for now and may try to simply recrown and polish them as they don't need leveled. Hopefully in a year or so I will have developed the chops for a refret and refinish of the fingerboard.

    SO, the point of the post is this - does ANYONE like playing with frets this worn? Am I odd? I don't play professionally and tend to wear typical frets VERY slowly.

    If I do decide to refret the neck, can anyone suggest a good specialist on maple necks that is reasonably priced? Not much in my area, so I will need to ship at least the neck.
     

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  2. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice guitar!

    Pretty large divots under the G String. I'd apply that $250 to a new fret job, get it plek'd if possible. If it plays fine for you than wait until it starts bothering you.
     
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  3. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    So a couple of observations.

    1) that nut did not leave the factory like that. Someone has done some filing on that piece for sure! Those big V's look horrible and I can't believe that you don't have tuning problems with the string getting bound up in the nut.
    2) those frets are wore out! It appears that they have been leveled before with a sanding beam but never crowned. And those grooves in the frets, they are pretty deep. But if the person who owned it before stayed up in the first three fret areas (cowboy chords) you should not have any trouble with string bends higher up the neck. If it is not buzzing or causing any issues right now I would just string it up and play it. But there is not going to be a lot of playing time left before it will need at least a partial refret.
     
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  4. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    Unless something changes, that is my plan. I was just curious how many people like playing with super low frets.
     
  5. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    The nut is not only cut deep, but the slots are also wide, so it doesn't really pinch or interfere with tuning stability. It really does nothing but separate the strings. Definitely looks like crap, but I can't see ruining a good nut to replace it without a full refret first. I could at least file the excess off of the top of the nut but I am afraid it might break off the "posts"!! I would guess however that the intonation varies slightly from fret to fret. At the 12th fret it is fine.
     

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  6. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    You might beat my ‘73 Deluxe. This has already had the first few frets done. Plays buttery smooth though. And currently no wear because it was recently levelled.
    EE66A0B7-5F38-471C-8CE9-8A620FA05366.jpeg 3F11A77F-C446-4109-B816-12A3BB038D80.jpeg
     
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  7. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    Holy heck! Look at that nut! You said it doesn’t buzz?

    I’ll admit my pink paisley strat is pretty worn (every fret is completely flat) and I still play it
    It really could use a fret job but I haven’t found the right luthier yet and most of them want to refinish the board since it’s maple, that’s where all the mojo is at!

    I’m probably gonna end up fretting it myself, for now I play it as is, I did put a new nut on it though

    So yes I’ve played on instruments that worn, the guitar I learned on was my fathers tele and the frets are just about the same as on that thinline
     
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  8. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    Woe! Someone loved that guitar, look how rolled that edge is, please tell me the back is nice and worn, looks pretty intact from the side
     
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  9. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    Very close! One thing mine has that yours doesn't is that it looks like the fingerboard was oversprayed with poly at least once. It creeps quite a way up the frets. The frets are like low islands in a sea of poly...

    I love the rolled edges of your neck. Did it come that way??
     
  10. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    Okay I gotta say it before anyone else does
    Did you restring it?

    If so, stick those dang string ends into the hole in the middle of the safe-t post next time
     
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  11. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    LOL! No, that's how she showed up! The previous owner must have wondered what the heck Safe-T-Post tuners were.

    I wanted to play it a while before I decided on what gauge to string it with. I have 10s on everything else - I will probably try that first.
     
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  12. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Nah - 70s poly isn’t it? But that edge is very comfortable.

    2349A137-2FC5-4A31-BAB1-A38594642F28.jpeg

    Those edges are from 46 years of regular play from previous owners who equally seemed to love it and abuse it. Most of the wear is from playing but it suffered a couple of bad refins. I have a restoration thread in this vintage forum.

    The pooled poly is there a bit on my Strat. You even see it on some runs of modern American Standards. If it’s definitely a later finish, that can be the sign it’s had a previous refret and the board re-radiused then sprayed. But it looks original to me from the pics so I think it’s just the Fender “thick skin” finish. The headstock will be factory oversprayed with Nitro as it played better with the decals of the era

    Cool guitar BTW!
     
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  13. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'd refret that for you for shockingly short dough, but I don't have a website or a reputation outside my area.
    If you want a good guy for reasonable dough, Rob DiStefano at Fret Tech/Cavalier Lion pickups in Joisey.
     
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  14. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    There’s a 73 or 74 Thinline locally that is gorgeous but also requires a refret...almost unplayable. Gorgeous sounding guitar, those old wide ranges are magical. Doesn’t sound anything Like any reissue I’ve played, these ones are fat sounding. Already can’t swing the price for the time being, and adding a refret on top of that doesn’t sweeten the deal.

    But in any case, now that you have it you might as well make it the best it can be.
     
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  15. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    Do LOVE those pickups!!
     
  16. JJLC

    JJLC TDPRI Member

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    I have owned over 400 guitars in the space of 50 years; plenty have had frets as bad, or worse than your Tele. I have never had fret work (level, crown, re-fret, etc.) done to a single guitar. I play them all just like they come to me.
    The only thing I have done is to dress up fret ends if they need attention & that only happens on ~1% of guitars.
    Play that puppy like it is IMO. :cool:
     
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  17. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    Thanks. Fret ends are a pet peeve of mine. I have small hands and they can get chewed up on the fret ends if I don't keep them trimmed!
     
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  18. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, pretty worn. I have had guitars play well for quite a while with those grooves in the frets. Everything is "settled in" I guess! But eventually they need to go. Old Gibson "fretless wonders " had wide very low frets. Flat tops often too.

    Not sure why you say you'd refret a rosewood neck but not maple, just the opposite for me... if anything! However, if that's the year of the "slide in" frets, that might be a challenge.
     
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  19. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Meister

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    I guess because I have never worked much on maple necks - and never on a vintage neck. I probably wouldn't hesitate with one of my old Squiers.
     
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  20. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Meister

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    It seems to me like $500 is a screaming deal even if needs a fretjob.
     
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