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Gibson's frets got smaller!

Brian N

Member
Messages
2,497
No one is talking about this as far as I can tell...am I going crazy here?

It all started about a month ago when I made a rare visit to my local Guitar Center. I grabbed a Gibson Les Paul Classic and started jamming. After a few minutes, something felt off. My fingers were dragging across the fingerboard, when normally they don't even touch! I looked up the spec; Gibson says they have medium-jumbo frets, which are the same frets I'm used to, the same frets on the few Gibsons I have at home. Yet my fingers never rub against the fretboard on the ones at home. What the heck?

So being the anal person I am, I come back with digital calipers to measure those frets, but first I measured my own; all my Gibsons have frets that are around .055" tall and .09" wide. Very consistent. Size 6105. I do some digging online and find lots of wrong idiots claiming different measurements, including Warmoth's website, but everyone who actually measured got the same 6105 measurements as I did. I even found a post from @Jescar who actually supplies the frets to Gibson confirming that their medium jumbo frets are 6105; .055" tall and .09" wide.

So I show up at Guitar Center again with digital calipers in my back pocket, and I measure the frets. They're .03" tall (not .055" tall) and .09" wide. Busted. I grab another of the same model off the shelf. This one is .035" tall and .09" wide. Two more of the same model, both .045" tall and .09" wide. Checking serial numbers, the earliest model was made in August of 2020 and the latest, made in February of 2021
Lastly, I grab a Les Paul Standard, and its frets are .035" tall and .09" wide.

Next I told a few folks on Reverb what I was up to, and asked them if they wouldn't mind measuring their frets. I thought maybe if I found models from 2019 or early 2020 that they'd be different. Most people didn't have the means to measure, but the few that did confirmed that as early as November 2019, the frets were around .033" tall.

So I'm wondering, what the heck is going on here?! Is something going wrong with Gibson's PLEK machines, or did they all of a sudden change their definition of medium jumbo and decide that people want low frets on every guitar? The fact that all of their frets are .09" wide makes me think that they're possibly still using 6105 frets, but just filing the heck out of them until they've lost 40% of their original height.

I emailed Gibson customer service about it, twice. Unsurprisingly, I received no response.
 

shock me

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
722
It's not just you! I am in the market for an explorer. The natural antique explorer I played on had small frets. Left the store highly disappointed.

Back in the 90's I had a Gibson RI '76 Explorer. No small frets on that one.

Gibson prices go up but fret size goes down.
 

Cheddar Kung Pao

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
4,141
Could it be those Plek machines gone wild??

they could be misconfigured or in need of maintenance or something? Or maybe they changed the wire out and didn't change their ad copy coz they know admitting they shrunk the frets wouldn't go over well with most buyers?

FWIW, my R9 has small frets and it plays great. But I have played guitars with small frets that I had that "my fingers are dragging on the board" feeling. I'm honestly not sure what the difference was.
 
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CapnRex

Member
Messages
1,834
Highly doubt it's the PLEK - they only take fractions of millimeters off.

It is disappointing, but I think the bigger crime is that SS frets are not standard on all guitars (fine, have a regular fretwire option or put it on "vintage correct" series)

I definitely think just the NAME stainless steel would be a selling point, if they put it on the darned stickers and stuff. "Gibson USA - NEW with STAINLESS STEEL frets"
 

Gurn

Member
Messages
1,362
I keep telling you. I miss Henry J.

This new CEO makes his money suing other companies & reducing fret sizes on Les Pauls.

What's his next trick? Roasted balsa wood weight-reduction?

I guarantee you he won't sue Chibsun!*

----
*(Gibson has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chibsun for several years now.)
 

TTHX

Member
Messages
567
This makes sense and I was wondering why the most recent Gibsons I've tried out felt different to me. I've also noticed that the frets felt smaller on some Epiphones I've tried as well.
 

Electricb

Member
Messages
226
This makes sense and I was wondering why the most recent Gibsons I've tried out felt different to me. I've also noticed that the frets felt smaller on some Epiphones I've tried as well.

Epiphone has had those low frets for a while. I have had a couple (some Casinos and a Firebird) that were otherwise nice guitars but I found them hard to play and didn’t want to spring for a refret so I sold them. I’m hoping to get one of the new USA Casinos to replace my MIC one, but I’ll have to play it first.
 

Gurn

Member
Messages
1,362
I hope a Youtuber will do a comparative analysis of fret-sizes on
Chibsun vs. Gibson in the J.C. Curleigh CEO era.

If my hypothesis is correct, Chibsun has not reduced fret sizes.
I don't want to inflate the sails of Chibsun/Gibson conspiracy theories.

So I do not imply any complicity to Gibson's new CEO.
Yet cui bono is always a matter to be considered.


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dilver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
217
Boo. I hate small low frets. Contrary to popular belief, they don‘t make you play faster.
Refrets are expensive and typically time consuming. I’d rather have more time between refrets than less. I guess if you’re someone that doesn’t play that much or don’t bend your strings, this isn’t as much of a problem. This isn’t a dig on people that like small frets, I just don’t see how I’d get around the fret wear.
 
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