Can a rookie replace a fret or three?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by _pete_, Feb 7, 2005.


  1. _pete_

    _pete_ Supporting Member

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    I just bought a used Ibanez that sounds and plays very nice but it has a good bit of fret wear on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd frets.
    I think the previous owner never played past the 3rd fret.
    Due to the wear it buzzes a bit on the low E and A strings until you play above the 3rd fret, then it's fine. The rest of the neck has no fret wear at all.
    I've never shied away from doing any type of repair but this is one I've never done. I need to replace those three frets.
    Is this a do-able job for a do it yourselfer?
     
  2. george4908

    george4908 Member

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    Yes, you can do it, it's not rocket science, but you need to do more than just replace three frets and string it up. The new frets will be higher than the others, so you will need to relevel all of them; then you will need to recrown them, and polish them. Then give the guitar a good complete setup. It's a somewhat fiddly process, and more time consuming than you might be imaging to get it right, but you'll learn a lot.

    It helps to have some specialized tools -- fret puller, tang cutter, fret files -- though other things will do in a pinch. Plus a good sanding block, radius guage, some rasps, some sandpaper, steel wool and fine polishing cloths.

    There are several books on this, Stew-Mac has a few guides to refretting, and there are some websites that go into it. You might start here: http://www.projectguitar.com/

    Go to the tutorials and start reading, and see if it's something you want to tackle yourself. Good luck!
     
  3. _pete_

    _pete_ Supporting Member

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    Thanks! I'll do some research but it sounds like it isn't overly complicated.
    It's an Ibanez S470. I just bought this guitar because it was cheap, sounded very good, has a neck that fits my hand well, and has humbuckers and a Floyd to complement my Strat.
    I don't want to spend a lot to refret the thing, a refret job would probably be more than I paid for the guitar.
     
  4. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    The problem is that if a) this is a one-off thing and b) you want to do it half decently, the investment in tools will probably be more than you would be charged for a partial re-fret and therefore not worth it. www.stewmac.com has a nice Essential fret work toolkit, to which you should add at least the fret pullers, fret benders and a couple more things, overall $200 minimum, probably closer to $300. I've done a couple of refrets already so I can tell you exactly what you will need, but I'd check with a luthier first because it may end up being more expensive than having it done by a pro.
     
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Before going any further - does it NEED a refret? Or only a fret dress?

    I ask because at least 90% of guitars that are brought to me 'needing a refret' do in fact only need a dress. Fret wear always looks far worse than it really is.

    Given that those Ibanezes have pretty big frets in the first place, I'd even put money on it not needing refretting. The good news is that it's much simpler and less risky to dress the frets than replace them. You don't even really need professional tools - provided you know how to make substitutes.

    First, check the height left at the most worn position on any fret, from the bottom of the string to the fingerboard. If it's more than about 2/3 of the height of an unworn part of the fret, you don't need a refret. With big frets, you might even get away with down to half the original height - and grooves that deep would look like the Grand Canyon.
     
  6. _pete_

    _pete_ Supporting Member

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    I think you may be right.
    Tonight I adjusted the truss rod and the action and played the hell out of the thing. It still buzzes on the low E string at frets 1-3 but it is much better. There was a slight hump in the neck and loosening the truss rod a little improved it.
    I'll see how it feels again tomorrow.

    These frets are very large so I think you're correct in thinking that a fret dressing would fix it up.

    Thanks!
     
  7. No, a rookie can't replace a fret or three. Take it to your local craftsman ( key word ) and have it done right the first time. You'll probably need more than a couple of frets replaced anyway, the entire neck probably needs to be set up correctly. You can screw a neck really quick when you don't know what you're doing. Just my two centimos. Best of luck.

    Peace - G
     
  8. Hard2Hear

    Hard2Hear Member

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    Pete- you can do whatever the crap you want cause it's your guitar!! If you want to learn, then learn.

    That being said, down I-75 just a bit in Franklin there's a repair guy named Mark Kaiser (I think that's the spelling). He's right above Fretware guitars in the middle of the old town. He does excellent work and is a nice guy to work with. He's done alot of work for me and can do wonders to a neck.:)

    On the top floor of that building used to be Babblefish studios, run by a guy I used to know. I havent been up there in a couple years so I'm not sure if he's still there or not.

    H2H
     
  9. THEO-BABBLEFISH

    THEO-BABBLEFISH Member

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    Hey H2H, Steve Falearos is still in the building in downtown Franklin. (402 South Main Street , Suite 10) You should stop by again when you're in the area. Babblefish has just installed a new console (soundcraft 3200) and tons of new gear to bring the studio to a higher level. check out the changes at:

    babblefishstudios.com

    Theo
     

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