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Les Paul Custom refret question

they

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
249
So I have a single owner alpine white LP custom - 1983. After my kids and my wife (most of the time ;-)) it's the love of my life.

A luthier I respect (Paul at Peekamoose NYC) sez it's time for a refret. But he uses a fatter fret wire which, truth be told, I like; but the 80s LPs were true flat top fretless wonders. I'm worried, somewhat irrationally, that I will alter the tone for the worse, even if I improve the playability.
Is there a possibility that I don't need a re-fret? Could the tech just be reacting to the flat 80s t-top wire? I've played the hell out of this thing. What could go wrong?
 

levelfrets

Senior Member
Messages
591
So I have a single owner alpine white LP custom - 1983. After my kids and my wife (most of the time ;-)) it's the love of my life.

A luthier I respect (Paul at Peekamoose NYC) sez it's time for a refret. But he uses a fatter fret wire which, truth be told, I like; but the 80s LPs were true flat top fretless wonders. I'm worried, somewhat irrationally, that I will alter the tone for the worse, even if I improve the playability.
Is there a possibility that I don't need a re-fret? Could the tech just be reacting to the flat 80s t-top wire? I've played the hell out of this thing. What could go wrong?
I don't doubt that if your luthier said it needs a refret, it does. Low frets to begin with and nearly 30 years of wear it's likely needed. I do however think you should be careful changing the fret size from the original size. It's a huge gamble unless you absolutely know what the affect will be. I've been repairing/modding guitars for nearly 20 years and one thing I know well is changing a guitar from original spec, can get you further away from what you liked to begin with. Not saying don't do it, just saying, do it with caution. To answer your question about changing tone, yes a refret can change the tone. Usually because you will regain fret height, crown, and a level board again which significantly improves tone and playability.
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
If you think the 80s wer fret less wonders, you've never seen a real fretless wonder. In the late 50s and early 60s gibson used really narrow and low fret wire. I had a 1962 les Paul custom and the frets were so tiny you really couldnt feel them at all.

As far as your guitar, a good luthier will measure or eyeball how much fret is left. He should also use the fretwire you want and not stick you with what he wants.

This page shows you what the luthier is looking for..

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/GenSetup/Frets/frets01.html
 

Balok

Member
Messages
3,609
IME, larger fret wire, or any increase in fret mass, will brighten the sound in the 3k-4k range. I've always preferred the sound of lower frets.
I would put off a refret until you feel your fingertips dragging on the ebony when bending.
You can have him put on any fret wire you like. You don't have to go with his preference. I have been disappointed in the past when I followed the preferences of luthiers or amp techs over my own personal tastes.
 

cap'n rory

Member
Messages
219
I've had a refret on an '82 Gibson Dot (1rst year re-issue) that had low wide frets. I had finally decided that some notes sounded so indistinct, that it had to be done. It was pro re-fretted with Dunlop 6130 wire with hot dog shaped fret ends over the binding, losing the nibs. That and some other wiring alterations transformed the guitar for the better.
The sound is the important part, ask yourself, if you are so used to the guitar, are you missing something in the sound by your familiarization with its frets and possibly ignoring what is really going on?
I disliked the tone colour in certain positions, and a good pro re-fret gave that desired tone back in spades. YMMV
 

Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,189
If you think the 80s wer fret less wonders, you've never seen a real fretless wonder. In the late 50s and early 60s gibson used really narrow and low fret wire. I had a 1962 les Paul custom and the frets were so tiny you really couldnt feel them at all.

As far as your guitar, a good luthier will measure or eyeball how much fret is left. He should also use the fretwire you want and not stick you with what he wants.

This page shows you what the luthier is looking for..

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/GenSetup/Frets/frets01.html
My '70s LP Custom ('74 if memory serves me right) was definitely a fretless blunder, err wonder. Gibson stupidly carried the tradition on into the '70s so it's not hard for me to believe they would have carried it on into the '80s. Low, narrow and flat on top. Worst effin' frets ever. The guitar was soooooo much better after a refret.
 
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Flogger59

Member
Messages
11,714
By 83 they were using "schoolbus" frets across the LP line, no? Seems to me that Standards and Customs used the same fretwire when I was selling them new, then.
 

toddinjax@yahoo

Senior Member
Messages
580
A rounder crown will sounds better, be easier to fret and have better intonation. He should have a selection of fret wire to choose from, but I'd strongly suggest you do not put that flat **** back on.
 

Deathmonkey

Member
Messages
2,429
I have a pair of 86 LPCs I'm going to refret with (gasp!) jumbo stainless frets. Just by replacing the frets, you're going to gain some high end and clarity, but it shouldn't "ruin the guitar". The payoff in having a fret size that enhances your technique is worth a bit of tonal trade-off (if there is one), IMHO.
 

they

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
249
Many thanks for the feedback from each of you.

I'm going to see what the setup does for some of the low fret buzzing and dead spots, then try to make a decision.

I'm playing mostly blues these days, so bends are definitely a part of the equation, and I have been touching the ebony for so long (over-fretting, really) that its hard for me to guage the scope of the problem vs some bad technique.

After doing a bit more research, the frets are definitely school bus, rather than the thin wire of the early days.

I'll probably make peace with a fretwire closer to what I have on my Anderson - I've played a friend's 336 with frets done at the same shop and it does feel great and sounds fantastic. I'll always worry, until the deed is done, that I'm retouching a nineteenth century masterpiece.

http://www.pri.org/stories/arts-ent...on-botches-jesus-painting-in-spain-11245.html
 

cherrick

Member
Messages
2,584

T92780

Member
Messages
8,229
Silly question, but when you re-fret, doesn't it visually effect the binding, etc on LP Custom?

I have a 79' or is it a 81' LP Custom, either way, not played in years because of needing a fret job badly and I've been torn on what frets to put in, or to continue to retire guitar in it's vintage form.

I have a Heritage H535 that I like the feel, does Heritage put one (1) stock size frets in H535 and if so, what are they?

Carry on... thread helping me and giving me itch to do something- sorry didn't mean to hijack thread OP.
 

they

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
249
The estimate I got (in person) was a little under $800, and I do trust them to deal effectively with the binding and the ebony. It's definitely more expensive than unbound.

Keep in mind that price also includes a full plek, which they do in house, on one of only two Pleks in NY (the other is in a Sam Ash out on Long Island).
 

Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,189
$800 for a refret!?! Even with nibs and a Plek that seems high to me. Personally, I'd do away with the nibs anyway. They are cosmetic only and imho negatively affect playability as the fret can't go to the edge of the binding as they need room for the nib. I prefer my frets to go over the top of the binding and they be rolled back from there. This gives you just a hair more playing surface area on the fret which can help to keep the strings from sliding off the edge of the fret.
 

Colorado Mac

Member
Messages
680
I don't doubt that if your luthier said it needs a refret, it does. Low frets to begin with and nearly 30 years of wear it's likely needed. I do however think you should be careful changing the fret size from the original size. It's a huge gamble unless you absolutely know what the affect will be. I've been repairing/modding guitars for nearly 20 years and one thing I know well is changing a guitar from original spec, can get you further away from what you liked to begin with. Not saying don't do it, just saying, do it with caution. To answer your question about changing tone, yes a refret can change the tone. Usually because you will regain fret height, crown, and a level board again which significantly improves tone and playability.
Great response - listen to the man! And, good luck!
 






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