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  #1  
Old 01-18-2019, 05:05 AM
bluesman62 bluesman62 is online now
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Default replacing frets

I have a question on replacing some or all of my frets.On a lot of my guitars the first 3 or 4 frets are getting indentations in them.Do you typically replace all the frets or just the worn out ones.Also i am apprehensive about who to do it.I don't have a luthier .Should i take one of my mid range guitars first to see how they do.I live in central jersey about 5 miles from Philly so any suggestion on a good luthier would be appreciated
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2019, 06:43 AM
Osage Osage is offline
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Minor indentations can usually be dealt with with a fret level and dressing. You can typically get 2-3 of those before you need a refret.

Per your question, It is typical to replace all the frets in a refret although people do partial refrets on occasion.
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Old 01-18-2019, 07:09 AM
llew llew is offline
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Totally agree with Osage. But I will add that any fret work is tricky business. You need a qualified luthier/tech who knows what he/she is doing. Folks in your area should be able to steer you to a good person. Best of luck!
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Last edited by llew; 01-18-2019 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 01-18-2019, 07:18 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is online now
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There should be several qualified individuals who can do this for you; you live in a pretty densely populated area. Hopefully someone will chime in with suggestions.

I have had partial refrets done with perfect success. Put in 5 stainless steel frets and cannot tell the difference (except they don't indent).
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Old 01-18-2019, 07:23 AM
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I don't know what make guitar you're looking to work on -- but sometimes you can contact the guitar maker and ask if there is certified guitar tech in your area. For example, I go to a Martin Certified guitar tech in NYC whenever I need work done on my Martin CS-00-21.

Also, good guitar shops in your area usually have qualified techs they work with and can recommend.

Finally, I'm sure that there are a few Philly based guitarists on this forum who'll chime in with suggestions.

If you find one who comes highly recommended, I don't think there's any reason to try out a "test guitar" before the real one.
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Old 01-18-2019, 08:20 AM
Sloplay Sloplay is offline
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I had a Fender 12 string refretted a couple years ago, just the first four frets. They did a great job and charged me something like twenty bucks. Dunno if that's high or what, but the guitar plays like new again. It's a 1979 F-55-12 if that makes any difference.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:28 AM
ChrisN ChrisN is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osage View Post
Minor indentations can usually be dealt with with a fret level and dressing. You can typically get 2-3 of those before you need a refret.

Per your question, It is typical to replace all the frets in a refret although people do partial refrets on occasion.
Are you saying a level/dressing on the 1st 4-5 frets? Or on all the frets? If you get only the first 4-5 frets leveled dressed, aren't those frets now lower (not as tall) as the rest of the frets, leading to buzz up the neck??

If it's a level/dressing on all frets, that's a 4-5 hour job by a luthier to get it right, so, notwithstanding that it's possible to level/dress the first few frets, the cost/benefit, relative to the partial refret, might not be there?? On the other side of that one, though, is the fact that a partial refret, with now-taller/higher fret height would mean you'd still have to level/dress the rest of the frets to match the new ones?

I've pondered this issue for a while, so any input appreciated!
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Old 01-18-2019, 11:11 AM
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ljguitar ljguitar is offline
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Hi all

On my 25 year old Olson (my main guitar), I've had the first 5-6 fret wires replaced three times over the past 25 years (5 the first time, and 6 ever since). In addition, I've had them dressed at least once in between the replacements, usually two dressings in between.

The first partial refret was by a credentialed Martin repair person locally, and ever since by Michael Bashkin (luthier) in Ft Collins, Colorado. He tells me that he can dress them at least once more before we need to replace them again, and then replace them once more after that before a total fret job.

My 14 and 16 year old Bashkin OM and Kronbauer mini-Jumbo have not needed refret work to date.

Michael reworked the frets a couple years after I bought the OM because he felt he had not done the job as well as he should have. He just asked me to leave it with him while I was on vacation and did the work for me (I didn't even know what he was going to do). It was as amazing after he worked on it as before, and I have had a full setup done once and he may have dressed frets during that.

Having taught intermediate and advanced fingerstyle guitar locally for 40 years, I've seen, and handled, guitars dressed by less skilled techs which need a full fret job after only one or two partial refret jobs. Obviously these techs are removing more material from the fret wires during the process.

If I were to need a full fret job, I'd likely get the Jescar EVO (gold colored) fret wires, which are harder than normal nickel fret wire, but not as hard as stainless steel.

I play with dented frets till they buzz. Being an avid hammer-on player who also does a lot of slurs (which also involves a hammer-on technique), I put dents in multiple frets. It's not from hard over-grip pressure while playing repeated chord progressions. But dents are merely cosmetic…for quite a while.

A dent isn't an issue (for me) till it buzzes. And after I accumulate enough dents, and one starts to buzz, that's when I set up an appointment to have it looked at. Then if needed a fret dressing, or partial refret job is scheduled.

Hope this adds to the discussion...



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Old 01-18-2019, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisN View Post
Are you saying a level/dressing on the 1st 4-5 frets? Or on all the frets? If you get only the first 4-5 frets leveled dressed, aren't those frets now lower (not as tall) as the rest of the frets, leading to buzz up the neck??

If it's a level/dressing on all frets, that's a 4-5 hour job by a luthier to get it right, so, notwithstanding that it's possible to level/dress the first few frets, the cost/benefit, relative to the partial refret, might not be there?? On the other side of that one, though, is the fact that a partial refret, with now-taller/higher fret height would mean you'd still have to level/dress the rest of the frets to match the new ones?

I've pondered this issue for a while, so any input appreciated!
No, you have to level/dress all of them. It's pretty simple. I do it probably 3 times a week and any good tech should be able to do it no problem. It will definitely be cheaper than a refret.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:11 PM
ChrisN ChrisN is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osage View Post
No, you have to level/dress all of them. It's pretty simple. I do it probably 3 times a week and any good tech should be able to do it no problem. It will definitely be cheaper than a refret.
Good to know, and makes sense. Thanks
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:51 PM
bluesman62 bluesman62 is online now
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thank you for your advice
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Old 01-18-2019, 04:38 PM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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Yes, a fret dressing is often done when the fret wear isn't enough to require fret replacement. The dressing reduces the height of the frets dressed and it is normal to dress all frets so that all have the same resulting height, as that makes it easier to adjust the string action properly.

Although a fret dressing can extend the time until new frets are needed, dressing the upper frets (even though they haven't been used much) can call for complete fret replacement later instead of a partial fret replacement (e.g., only the first 7 frets).
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:06 PM
ChrisN ChrisN is offline
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Originally Posted by sdelsolray View Post
Although a fret dressing can extend the time until new frets are needed, dressing the upper frets (even though they haven't been used much) can call for complete fret replacement later instead of a partial fret replacement (e.g., only the first 7 frets).
Hmm. That's not good. What's the downside to replacing frets 1-7 and dressing only those new frets, not the old ones unless they're going flat? It seems the higher/taller frets 1-7 would keep the string height above the older non-replaced frets, meaning no buzz (as a positive). What's the negative?
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:42 PM
darylcrisp darylcrisp is offline
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based on how much leveling is needed, the nut slots may need some slight lowering as well, a basic setup is usually followed after a level/dress just to 1st fret action, relief and 12th fret specs.
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Old 01-18-2019, 06:32 PM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisN View Post
Hmm. That's not good. What's the downside to replacing frets 1-7 and dressing only those new frets, not the old ones unless they're going flat? It seems the higher/taller frets 1-7 would keep the string height above the older non-replaced frets, meaning no buzz (as a positive). What's the negative?
New frets are not dressed, at least in the way and to the extent worn frets are dressed. If the fret wear is limited to the first several frets, and the wear is sufficient such that is creates buzzes, intonation issues, etc., a valid choice to is simply replace the worn frets with frets of the same height/width/composition as the remaining frets. With that, all frets will have the same height and future setups can be done without fret height issues.
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