Fretboard shrinking

Raphael Nano

Member
Messages
17
Hey guys! Hope you're doing great.

So I got my Les Paul Custom 2009 5 months ago, got it for great deal $1500. However, the fretboard shrank and the fret edges are sticking out, I don't have a problem with that, I can get a fretjob .. but is it okay if the fretboard has shrank? Or should I get a new guitar? Will it play the same as a new Les Paul? The new Gibson high performance line has slightly wider neck .. the width increase is very very minimal but they all say it doesn't feel the same at all.. I still love this Custom and if the shrinking fretboard isn't a problem I'll definitely keep it.

Sorry for asking too many questions
Thanks!
 

Blix

Wannabe Shredder
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
29,161
ping walterw ... guitar tech guy here.

this is not uncommon. i think your fretboard dried out some. it think you need to re-hydrate it, maybe with lemon oil.

ping walterw.

good luck!
You can't re-hydrate with any oil, only moisture/humidity does.
 
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Raphael Nano

Member
Messages
17
ping walterw ... guitar tech guy here.

this is not uncommon. i think your fretboard dried out some. it think you need to r-hydrate it, maybe with lemon oil.

ping walterw.

good luck!

Thank you! will it go back to its normal size of I re-hydrate it, won't it damage the wood?
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
40,596
Were you in the pool? That can cause significant shrinkage.

I'm not sure cause I got it used /:


anyway, get the fret ends shaved now (it's easy for a good tech) and then don't worry about it anymore.

yes it's a humidity thing, wintertime air and indoor heat all dry out the wood. once spring rolls around it's no longer an issue, but if you get them filed now in winter it'll never be an issue.

don't mess with oil, that has nothing to do with it.

and the only way to "humidify" is to humidify the air, not the wood itself. don't go putting water on the fretboard :eek:
 

stuco

Member
Messages
848
Get them dressed and don't worry about it. If your home is super dry you may want to look into keeping a guitar room humidified, especially if you have solid wood acoustics. For most electrics it is not that big of a deal unless it's extreme humidity conditions either way.
 

FlyingVBlues

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,332
Wood is a hygroscopic material. Its physical dimensions are dependent upon moisture content and the wood will expand when the moisture level is too high, and it will contract when the moisture level is too low. During the winter the humidity level is typically low which causes fretboards to shrink and causes "fret sprout". A relative humidity of between 40 and 50% is best for guitars. I have a humidity meter in my music room to keep track of the humidity level and a stand-alone humidifier that runs all winter. I keep the humidity level at 45%. For a single guitar I would just get a case humidifier such as the Oasis OH-6 Case Humidifier (oasishumidifiers.com) or the Planet Waves Two-Way Humidification System (planetwaves.com). You could also make your own case humidifier by taking a plastic soap container used by travelers, drill a couple of small holes in it, and keep a damp sponge in the box. The humidifier should fix your problem, but if the fret sprout persists a guitar tech can easily fix it with a fret end dressing file.

Many people also use a product like Gerlitz Guitar Honey or Fret Doctor to help restore the proper moisture content of fretboards. Both products are good, but I don’t think they specifically deal with the lack of proper moisture content in a fretboard. I use Fret Doctor occasionally to recondition fretboards, but I use it very sparingly. I've heard of cases where an oil-soaked fretboard can result in the loosening of frets.
 
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Bluesdaddy

Member
Messages
981
I was going to say the same thing .
A custom should have nibs ( binding over frets) to prevent sharp fret ends.
I've never seen frets sticking out on a Gibson with nibs. Small cracks , but not frets sticking out.
Unless it's a refret of course.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
40,596
ooh, good point! customs have covered-up fret ends.

@Raphael Nano, can you post a nice close-up pic of the frets, especially the fret ends, and let us see what's going on? just upload it to photobucket or something and paste it in here.
 

Dr. Tinnitus

Member
Messages
3,423
To me this is a reason to get a humidifier. I bought a decent one this year, and all of the guitars seem to be coming out of their cases the same as when they were put in.
 

old goat

Member
Messages
1,987
Products like lemon oil and fret doctor will do absolutely nothing to hydrate wood and cause it to reexpand. Even dampening the fingerboard with water will not do that--not that I'm suggesting it. Only a few months in a higher humidity environment will do that. The good news is that the fingerboard will only shrink so much and then stop. If you get a different guitar it will do the same thing, unless the fingerboard has shrunk already, or unless you humidify either the room or the case.
 

sws1

Member
Messages
12,889
It's from the low humidity in the air. Put some moisture back in the air and it'll fix itself.
 




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