To Re-fret, or not to Re-fret

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Jethro, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. Jethro

    Jethro Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 7, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks guys, I can't help but agree with most of you....just wanted some other viewpoints.

    I'll get'er refretted and leave the finish as is.

  2. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

    Jul 16, 2006
    Portland, OR
    Vintage Shmintage. Guitars are tools, ya fix 'em when they need fixing, regardless. I've refretted and replaced parts on every single one of my '30s Martins, '50s Fenders and '60s Gibsons. They need to work properly, period.

    To the original poster: You should likely refret the Strat. Refinishing the fingerboard is optional, you may want to do it if it really needs to be more level. It is your workhorse, keeping riding.

    When I first refretted my '82 52RI, the original fingerboard was simply not level enough to use with new frets (typical CBS-era slop) and so I had to restain and refinish it. It was absolutely the right decision and made the guitar play so much better. Any talk "vintage value" of a 52RI is just crazy IMHO - these are guitars cranked out in a massive factory like potato chips and are worth face value.
  3. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 7, 2007
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Wow, it's been a long time on this forum since I could just say "what he said",

    so, "what he said".
  4. Thin69

    Thin69 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 28, 2009
    Galveston, TX
    Heck I would be happier to be able to do what he can with his hands! Someday I would like to try my hand at a fret job but I think I will wait for a scrap neck first!
  5. GuitarPlayerFL

    GuitarPlayerFL TDPRI Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    Jacksonville, FL
    Only by younger players who think it's valuable. It's wrong to lump Pre-CBS guitars in with anything from the 70s and newer. Old does not = vintage as it relates to guitar lore.

    Even if you run across a 70s Fender that was made correctly, it's just an old guitar. Really. I lived that era of Fender. Having thirty years pass does not make an OK guitar more valuable....regardless of the number of them left.
    A lot of people like to drink the Kool-Aid.

    There is nothing special about a standard 1979 Strat. If the OP loves it, great. :D Re-fret it and enjoy it.
  6. sa paine

    sa paine Tele-Holic

    Jan 3, 2007
    greenfield NY

    You should be able to have the re-fret done and fret-board refinished to match the tint of the oirginal finish.

    You just have to make sure it's done by someone up to the task.
  7. goldenhound

    goldenhound TDPRI Member

    Jun 2, 2010
    The Great NorthWest
    Boy - should I say something here? :twisted: I think I will.

    Er...I own a 1979 natural finish, ash body, maple neck strat. I have to say, I was never a fan of strats until I played this guitar. The ash body (more than the alder) alone has everything to do with getting a 'meaty' strat tone. I love it more than most other strats. And for the record, I did have it refretted with med jumbo frets as my hands are a bit, well, hammy. It needed a fret job bad - the frets had had at least 2 grinds when I got it, and I bit the bullet in 2003. I 'fretted' over getting it done due to the age of it. It plays very well, has the absolute Fender Strat sound (just a bit beefier due to the old Dimarzio Fat Strat p/u's that 'one' of the owners put into it ( I put a Seymour Duncan Quarter-Pounder in the bridge back in '82). I will also say, its amazing to me how that clunky old bridge comes back into tune perfectly when I whammy it.

    Is it vintage? Well, yes and no. It's vintage because its 30 years old, the wood has aged well - the neck is great. True, it was built in an era when Fender was owned by CBS. I don't know, I don't see a whole heck of a lot wrong with it. Its a great 'Fender' guitar, built in another time. Doesn't make it any less a Fender. It's no 'surf' guitar. It's definitely a rocker, but it cleans up well. Sorry guys. I'm not wealthy. I buy my instruments to play. And this one has never failed me yet. And, just being honest, it would take me a while to make a 50's strat sound good to my ears. They aren't easy to 'play'. My .02. :oops:
  8. jrfrond

    jrfrond Tele-Holic

    Aug 11, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    It is quite possible to refret that neck without refinishing the fingerboard, but THE most important factor is finding a repairperson that knows how to deal with those necks that were fretted sideways. If you don't know this already, Fender necks from that era had their frets pulled into the fret slots from the side of the fingerboard with a special jig, not hammered or pressed in from the top. The cleanest way to remove them is sideways, the way they went in. That's what I do. Try and pull them up, and the fret slots and finish become a splintery mess. This is because the fret slot is "T"-shaped due to the fret installation method, and pulling it up will pull up the wood that overlaps the tang.

    There is no doubt that there WILL be areas that require touchup, but any competent repairperson armed with the proper CA adhesive and amber dye can render it all invisible. Part of the issue is that Fender sprayed the lacquer right over the frets, and when you remove the frets, there are little lacquer "hills" that remain which must be leveled and smoothed-out prior to refretting. Again, a COMPETENT repairperon that knows what they are doing will be aware and capable.
  9. Sheep

    Sheep TDPRI Member

    Mar 16, 2009
    I had the exact same dilema. For me, It wasn't the finacial value of the guitar that was important (as I would never sell it) but keeping the integrity of the guitar which was paramount. If a pro luthier says it cant be dressed; play it till it's unplayable but for now just enjoy it. If it needs a refret, refret it. Just don't do it untill it NEEDS doing. Know that you've done the right thing by playing it's ass off and enjoy the new frets whenever you get it done.
    One last thing....go for the same size frets as the originals no matter what anybody tells you.
  10. David Collins

    David Collins Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2009
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Missed this thread the first time around - good thing they always seem to come back to life every 6 months or so.

    I have a similar dilemma I'm dealing with right now. I have a 1979 Chevy Malibu, great car, engine and transmission are in tip top condition, and I really want to keep driving it. The windshield however has cracks and chips all over the place, and is so sand pitted that you can hardly see through it at all. Lately I've just been sticking my head out the window when I drive, but I'm wondering if it's okay to replace.

    I really want to preserve the originality of this '79 Malibu, and was wondering how much impact a replaced windshield might be seen to have among collectors. The tires and brake pads have been replaced a few times already, which is bad enough. I'm just not sure if I want to violate it's originality any more.

    Sorry - it's not my intention to mock anyone here, but simply trying to shed light on thins from a different perspective. I believe the '79 Malibu analogy is appropriate. If the instrument is not an extremely rare artifact, ready to be retired to a vault purely for preservation, then it is still eligible for reasonable service and maintenance. If a component critical to functionality is worn or damaged which cannot be easily reconstructed or repaired, then that component should be replaced. On a '79 Strat, there is no conflict whatsoever in refretting, even if it ends up involving refinishing of the board.

    If this were a '51 Nocaster we were talking about, the decision may be a bit more complicated, but there is no reasonable need for hesitation in this case. The guitar's primary purpose is still as a tool for making music, and not as a rare historical artifact for strict preservation. The frets are already worn, the functional value of the original frets is already lost. Replacing the frets and restoring it to proper function will only help to recover some of that value (this guitar's primary source of value still lies in its functionality), rather than depreciate it further.
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