Replacing the fretboard on a setneck guitar

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by bunny, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. bunny

    bunny Member

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    It's a '84 Guild Brian May (Red Special) with the fretboard worn and thinned over the years of repairs. The client's idea is to replace the fretboard and to restore the original neck thickness and profile. Dark ebony, short scale, 24 frets, zero fret, dot markers, small dot side markers, no bindings. The neck is finished with poly, red mahogany.

    What would be your approach to removing the old fretboard and fitting the new one? Obviously minimizing refinishing is desired, so heating and prying off is not the best way. I'm thinking of using a sharp plane and sanding off the rest with a long sanding beam. Would you do it?

    The new fretboard: slotted, but should I make the 7.5" radius before or after gluing it? Frets (SS) before or after gluing? How would you deal with the sides, taper the fretboard just a bit narrower than the neck width to blend the finish?

    I do a lot of repairs, but professional opinions are always great to hear :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2015
  2. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    When replacing fret boards I will typically pull all the frets and markers then plane the top of the old FB flat. Score the finish along the bottom of the FB with a hot knife blade, heat up the FB with a clothes iron and use some spatulas to work it off. The old board with a bit of cleaning can now be used as a template with a flush trim bit to cut the new one to perfect shape and size.

    I slot and radius my new FB prior to glueing on but do not fret until after. This gives me a chance to make sure that the new FB is dead straight after installation. Being a poly type finish you are going to need to at least re-clear the whole back of the neck to avoid witness marks.
     
  3. KSL

    KSL Supporting Member

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    I'm no tech but me thinks you shouldn't try your first board replacement with a clients guitar?

    It really sounds like you don't know what you're doing in every step of the process.

    I apologize if I might come off as rude but I would be uncomfortable as ancient seeing this thread.
     
  4. bunny

    bunny Member

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    Not the first, not even the tenth and I do know what I'm doing, but each structual repair is different in many aspects, so I'm always interested in second opinions which may lead to some new useful tricks. I've replaced fretboard on LP Customs and you have bindings (and nibs), so you glue the fb fretted, with bindings and inlays. On vintage strats and teles with bolt-on necks and nitro finish you do it differently, Acoustics - I did it with the neck on and off, plus neck resets and even straightening the warped necks on 100 yo parlors.

    Here I know what I'll normally do but I'm sure there's more than one way to do it. My fellow luthiers who's mostly into building would shave the fretboard off and refinish the whole neck:)
     
  5. KSL

    KSL Supporting Member

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    :) I apologize for my post then.
     
  6. bunny

    bunny Member

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    Oh, never mind! :) BTW, replacing the fretboard on any guitar is not at all an easy and pleasant type of repair :facepalm
     

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