Frets, Glued in or not.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by 6120, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. 6120

    6120 Member

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    What effect if any does glueing in the frets or not glueing in the frets have on the tone and playability of a guitar ?
     
  2. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    If anything, better contact improves the transfer of vibrations.

    When wood changes due to seasonal weather effects, the frets can move a little in the slots if not glued in. If your intention is to glue frets in, try Franklin liquid hide glue, it works well for frets.
     
  3. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    also, there's the tonal improvement of not having the fret ends sprung up and losing contact with the board, not to mention causing string buzzes.

    i'm always appalled when i work on certain high-end boutique acoustics (as well as certain otherwise quite nice canadian factory acoustics) and after shining up the frets with some #0000 steel wool i'm left with little tufts of steel wool caught under most of the fret ends.
     
  4. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    I always glue frets in when I refret a neck. On necks that don't need a refret I'll wick CA under the frets to secure them and it makes a noticeable improvement in tone.
     
  5. curtis

    curtis Member

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    I've tried to re-fret necks without glue purely so its easier for the next guy to re-fret after me, but they can just pop up a few days/ weeks etc later so I also usually wick CA under neath to prevent it.
    I like the thought of not needing glue, but in reality it is often necessary.
     
  6. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    I've been using CA (super glue) for around 15 years for refrets. I also liked the idea of not using glue and refretted many guitars without glue, but the results have been more consistent with glue. I experimented with different types of glue, but came back to CA.
     
  7. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I would never refret without glue, ca is what I use now, epoxy years ago. If you have frets not seated all the way at least they are solidly sprung if you know what I mean.
     
  8. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i think any re-fretter with half a clue knows these days to expect glue, and thus to heat up frets when removing them.

    i've used superglue for years, and have removed and refretted some of my own work (like when i caught the stainless bug and re-did my own gigging guitars),and it wasn't that big of a hassle.

    i run a bead of medium thickness glue along the slot before putting in the fret, but don't take pains to fill the whole slot with glue. with a properly sized tang it's plenty to lock the fret in place and seal the slot from the outside world, but is still reasonably easy to clean out for a refret.
     
  9. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

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    If the frets are not heated or not heated properly, I can see where super-glue could cause some fret-board chipping problems. (actually I have seen it on a scrap fret-board I do experiments on)

    But, if you use proper heat, super-glue can sometimes cause even *less* chipping than pulling frets where no glue has been used (what would have been a loose splinter of wood at the end-grain is now better locked in place)

    And I know all too well, that unglued frets can seem just fine for years and then suddenly from some mysterious reason, one of those suckers will just decide to pop up. I used to assume it could only happen in the more flexible part of the neck, but have since seen that no part of the neck is off limits to this happening.

    I even once ate the shipping for a neck to be returned to me, that I had done a fret-level on (they were factory installed frets). When I had the neck, I found some popped up frets and tapped them back down, and they *seemed* solid enough to leave alone, then the customer bitched that he suddenly wanted the neck back fast because the amp he ordered was delivered early, and he just had to have that neck asap.
    Glue from then on.
     
  10. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    Wood expands and contracts with humidity. Metal doesn't.

    Both expand and contract with changes in temperature but by different amounts.

    Unless the guitar is in a strictly controlled environment (and how many are?) even the most incredible luthier couldn't prevent the odd fret loosening up if no glue is used.
     
  11. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    The biggest drawback to using glue is, it changes the way the lacquer uptakes/lays on the board surface and can interfere with a really slick smooth thin finish.

    I saw a new (but refused) CS Robert Cray at the GC in Jackson, MS where some angry CS guy had gone mad with the CA glue - plus that rosewood was so pale and pinkish whether covered in CA or not. Looked revolting. Makes you wonder if there isn't a good way to load the exotic wood board with oil to keep the CA glue confined to where it is needed, only.

    I've seen assertions that Allparts necks have no CA glue on their frets. All 5 of mine have; maybe a little less than some other brands but then Allparts leaves an unfilled void at the ends of most unfinished fret ends. Something you seldom see on an MIM neck.
     
  12. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    I was trained to coat the board with paste wax before fretting (thin coat & keep it out of the fret slots) Then press the frets in & wick some thin CA in from the ends with a syringe. Any CA that gets on the board (which won't be much) comes right off with a small sharp chisel, as it is on the wax, not in the wood. When I'm all finished the wax comes off cleanly with naptha. Then re-oil the board if unfinished.
     
  13. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

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    I always find that the naptha dilluted wax is more than enough of a final wood finish. I try to wait until the very end of the job, before I wipe all the wax off. Although sometimes while the wax is still on there and you've been leveling, crowning, polishing frets, the board can look like World War III was just going on, but then you wipe everything clean and it looks better than just about any other fret-board in town.

    Not exactly a mass-production friendly process !
     
  14. curtis

    curtis Member

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    to explain a little further, I spent extra time on one or two down through the years experimenting with tang sizes and shapes to try to find some sort of general technique of finding the size that will sit in the slot pretty tightly without ever lifting....but generally ran CA glue down there to be safe anyway!
    The reason I tried was because I've refretted plenty of guitars that didnt seem to have any glue in there from the factory that didnt have any lifted. Its easier first time round i guess, with fresh slots. It never stopped me using heat, to use the oils in the 'board help lessen the chipping.

    I've also used wood glue in the slot plenty of times, and I liked it. Never had any back so I guess they've lasted OK. The glue acted as a decent lubricant to ease the fret in and clean up is obviously easy.

    I always wax the board if I'm applying CA (not getting any down under the frets though), then again after clean up for the nice slick feel.
    lovely!
     
  15. Mike9

    Mike9 Supporting Member

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    Another reason for lifting is the wire - if it's not bent correctly say too tight it'll lift in the middle - too flat and the ends will lift. I usually bent the wire then shape it by hand to get a more accurate radius. Then I glue them in. Sizing the tang to the slot counts too - I had one last year that I literally pulled 75% of the frets out by hand - no puller. Never seen such a sloppy factory fit before, or thankfully since.
     
  16. Denny

    Denny Member

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    I've been refretting for almost 27 years now. In my opinion, properly installed frets should stay the course without glue - HOWEVER - I always use glue when refretting - more for the sound transmission than strength. Metal and wood don't necessarilly glue together very strongly in the first place. so I would say, "best practice" would be to use some type of glue. It certainly doesn't hurt.

    D.
     
  17. GtrDr

    GtrDr Member

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    I use tightbond. It holds the frets in & it fills in any voids between the frets & the slots.
     

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