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  #16  
Old 06-19-2016, 01:19 PM
00-28 00-28 is offline
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I think there is some confusion in the terminology here. There is a difference between planing and leveling. A fretboard should be leveled before tension and frets are added. Relief is set by compression fretting or adjustable truss rod. Planing, the way I understand Hot Vibrato to mean, was to shape the fretboard, or shave areas of the fretboard, so that under tension there is the correct relief. I don't know what you mean when you say, "I plane the fretboard until it's perfect". I also don't see the need to plane the fretboard to correct the relief of a guitar that has an adjustable truss rod. I would hate to see my guitar's fretboard thinned at the nut and body join as a means to adjust the relief.

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Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
You can't just plane it flat and expect it to be right under string tension. The way I was trained is to induce "simulated string tension" on the neck, and re-check the results several times during the procedure with the guitar actually strung up. This method is discussed extensively in both of Don Teeter's The Acoustic Guitar books, and in Dan Erlewine's The Guitar Player Repair Guide. FWIW compression fretting only gets a passing mention in those books.
Why would you do this on a guitar with an adjustable truss rod? From the other topic I have the understanding you do this to all guitars you refret. Seems like your method is to shape the fretboard with a simulated back bow instead of using compression frets to create back bow on guitars with non-adjustable truss rods. Am I understanding this correctly?

......Mike

Last edited by 00-28; 06-19-2016 at 01:48 PM.
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  #17  
Old 06-19-2016, 01:46 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Originally Posted by 00-28 View Post
I think there is some confusion in the terminology here. There is a difference between planing and leveling. A fretboard should be leveled before tension and frets are added. Relief is set by compression fretting or adjustable truss rod. Planing, the way I understand Hot Vibrato to mean, was to shape the fretboard, or shave areas of the fretboard, so that under tension there is the correct relief. I don't know what you mean when you say, "I plane the fretboard until it's perfect". I also don't see the need to plane the fretboard to correct the relief of a guitar that has an adjustable truss rod. I would hate to see my guitar's fretboard thinned at the nut and body join as a means to adjust the relief.
By "I plane the fretboard until it's perfect", I mean I plane it until the radius is perfect, and until the relief under string tension is within .001" of my desired relief measurement. Sometimes it is necessary to "correct relief" on a guitar with an adjustable rod - if the neck is back-bowed under string tension, with no tension on the rod, or when a neck has too much bow under string tension and the rod is maxed out.
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Originally Posted by 00-28 View Post
Why would you do this on a guitar with an adjustable truss rod?

......Mike
Because factory-built guitars' fingerboards always have (often gross) irregularities that can either be planed off of the surface of the fingerboard, or off the surface of the frets after they're installed. I choose to do the former. And if you don't do it under simulated string tension, you're only guessing as to how the neck will react under 200 lbs of string tension.

Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 06-19-2016 at 04:09 PM.
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  #18  
Old 06-19-2016, 03:41 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
I would like to mention a couple of things here which might be of relevance.

Firstly, AFAIK , the original frets on vintage Martins were .037" high. I could be wrong here, but what I do know is that .037" was the fret height on every Martin I ever owned up until approximately two years ago, when out of the blue, and with no prior announcement, I discovered to my surprise that the fret height on my new Martins had suddenly became .043". ( I have a theory as to why this change came about btw, but modesty prevents me from disclosing it}.

The happy consequence of this increase in fret height is that it is now makes it at least possible, ( if perhaps not ideal), to sand the correct relief into the fret tops themselves (always assuming you have the correct jig to implement this, and know how to use it to get the desired result). For .005" relief, which is pretty well what most players want, it would mean that the 7th fret would still be the old height of .037", and the first and fourteenth the new (improved ) height of .043"... give or take a thou.

Obviously, sanding relief into frets which start out at .037" high would not be feasible.

It may well be, of course, that the vintage diehards actually want to retain the old fret height of .037", and would spurn the idea of refretting with .043" wire, in which case my suggestion will be of no use whatsoever. I am simply offering this as a possible alternative to compression fretting or fretboard planing.
I noticed that Gibson has been installing 6105 (.055" high) wire on most of their electric guitars for years. I'm not too modest to suggest that using such tall wire buys them a lot of wiggle room for sloppiness when it comes to the levelness of their fingerboards and frets, because of course as you mentioned, with taller wire, you can get away with filing more fret material away when correcting unlevelness. If they used smaller wire, there would be many more warranty refrets.

Regarding your suggestion of correcting bow by fretting with taller frets and filing the difference from the surface, I think that would work in minor cases, but I suppose if one were opposed to planing the board, I would consider compression fretting to at least be a means to help change the plane of the board in their favor.

I was listening to the Blues Creek tutorial earlier while working on a stratocaster refret, and it occurs to me that I sometimes apply the principles of compression fretting - in particular on strats and tele's, etc. with finished maple boards. Sometimes it's best not to plane these because of the finish work involved and the obvious loss of originality. But sometimes these necks exhibit the "ski ramp" at the end of the neck. When it's severe, the only choice is to plane the board, but in more minor cases, I can get away with fitting the frets at the upper portion of the neck more tightly, and it really makes a difference in the amount of kick at the end of the neck. So I guess I do sometimes do "compression fretting" after all.

In the case of an unfinished ebony or rosewood fingerboard, I can't imagine not leveling the fingerboard at all, but I can imagine some scenarios where it would be beneficial if I could use compression fretting to accurately and predictably alter the plane of a board. It's the "accurately and predictably" part that discourages me.

Last edited by Hot Vibrato; 06-19-2016 at 04:05 PM.
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  #19  
Old 06-19-2016, 05:22 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
By "I plane the fretboard until it's perfect", I mean I plane it until the radius is perfect, and until the relief under string tension is within .001" of my desired relief measurement. Sometimes it is necessary to "correct relief" on a guitar with an adjustable rod - if the neck is back-bowed under string tension, with no tension on the rod, or when a neck has too much bow under string tension and the rod is maxed out.
Because factory-built guitars' fingerboards always have (often gross) irregularities that can either be planed off of the surface of the fingerboard, or off the surface of the frets after they're installed. I choose to do the former. And if you don't do it under simulated string tension, you're only guessing as to how the neck will react under 200 lbs of string tension.
How can you plane the board and test the relief under tension (strings or simulated) without frets in it, and expect it to have the same relief under tension after it is fretted?
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  #20  
Old 06-19-2016, 05:25 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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A few notes:

1. Planing has been used for years. I remember a fantastic small industry that developed in New York city around the non-adjustable Martin neck. Towards the end of the sixties the East Coast artists needed necks that could be used for string bending and light playing. Guys like Maury Muehleisen who played lead for Jim Croce wanted REALLY low action with bending ability. The cottage industry was bringing the actions down by planing them.

2. There are situations that can only be handled with planing, such as a compound bow. A compound bow exists when the treble and bass sides aren't bowed by the same amount. With this condition you can had a back bow on the bass side and perfect relief on the treble side. I'm not aware of fret wire that allows differential compression so planing is the only option.

3. I've heard the arguments that a neck that is planed can become unstable. You'd have to take a lot of neck material for that to happen. In logic, reducing all conditions to the extreme is called the argument reductio ad absurdum, and is considered a classic fallacy. I've got a forty-year-old Gibson Les Paul that had a compound bow. It was planed twenty years ago and the work hasn't made it rubbery or unstable. In fact, it has played better since the planing than it ever did before. The same with a forty-year-old Conn dread with a Nato neck that was planed twenty years ago. A good tech or luthier will tell you whether or not the procedure will remove too much material. Choose a good workman and he'll keep you within bounds.

Bob
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  #21  
Old 06-19-2016, 05:43 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Purists are so full of it, they have no concept of whats required to achieve a good playable guitar, every guitar is different every guitar requires a different approach.

There is no right or wrong way, its what way works for you.

Luthiers are paid for there knowledge / wisdom and experience in said matters, what takes others days and weeks of trolling forums, takes seconds for us to access under a good eye.

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  #22  
Old 06-19-2016, 06:08 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
How can you plane the board and test the relief under tension (strings or simulated) without frets in it, and expect it to have the same relief under tension after it is fretted?
If I don't fit the frets too tightly, the difference in bow once the frets are installed is small and quite predictable, and can therefore be factored in while I'm planing the board. When I fit the frets more tightly is when the unpredictability creeps in, which is partly why I've been skeptical of the effectiveness and accuracy of compression fretting. That said, I'm always willing to learn new things.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, by the way!
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  #23  
Old 06-19-2016, 07:08 PM
00-28 00-28 is offline
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Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
Purists are so full of it, they have no concept of whats required to achieve a good playable guitar, every guitar is different every guitar requires a different approach.
I laughed when I read this. I'm not sure who the purists are in this discussion.

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There is no right or wrong way, its what way works for you.
OK, agree, at least until the guitar goes up for resale.

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Luthiers are paid for there knowledge / wisdom and experience in said matters, what takes others days and weeks of trolling forums, takes seconds for us to access under a good eye. Steve
There are more questionable Luthiers out there than ones that I trust. How do I know this? Unfortunately, experience.

.........Mike
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  #24  
Old 06-19-2016, 07:25 PM
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There are more questionable Luthiers out there than ones that I trust. How do I know this? Unfortunately, experience.
The problem Mike, is some people think they can buy some tools from Stewmac or some other online supplier of tools and hang a shingle over there shed in there back yard and call themselves a luthier. Calling yourself a luthier is one thing, offering that service on a commercial scale is an entirely different thing.

If a customer was silly enough to use someone like this, then they are matched for each other.

We are in a society where social media rules, it takes almost no effort to look up the person you are going to use and read reviews on them.

To this end, a wary customer will look at who endorses that luthier, are they endorsed from a manufacturer, do they work for multiple guitar stores (not one), there are lots of questions that should be asked before taking it to be repaired.

Steve
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  #25  
Old 06-19-2016, 09:12 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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I think there is some confusion in the terminology here.
Whether you 'plane', 'scrape', 'sand', or 'level', the result is removal of some fingerboard material. I prefer scraping for most material removal, followed by sanding with a hard block.
These days, most of my leveling is done near the body joint to flatten the area after a neck reset. On many vintage Martins and Gibsons, the necks have more taper in thickness than modern necks, and a bit of reduction at the body is less of an issue than it is in the first position.

Quote:
I also don't see the need to plane the fretboard to correct the relief of a guitar that has an adjustable truss rod.
Adjustable truss rods are a different discussion. In that case, relief is adjusted as closely as possible with the rod, then any minor sanding/shaving/planing can be done to equalize relief on the whole board.

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Your method of removing the fingerboard and regluing with an induced back bow makes sense. Of course, there would be a fair amount of finish touchup on the neck afterwards. Do the vintage purists complain about that?
Touchup is minimal, and may not be required at all if there is finish wear on the fingerboard edges. If I do touchup, it consists of drop filling, no overspray. I locate the fingerboard with two 1/2" long brads, drilling the holes for them before removing the fingerboard. That way, the fingerboard goes back in exactly the same place, with no offset edges to contend with. The brads are removed after gluing.
This is not a particularly new technique, just a variation on heat pressing. IMHO, the advantage is that it is more predictable and more reliable.

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To be honest, I've never removed a fingerboard on a vintage guitar that was of any value. It sounds a bit scary. Hide glue can sure be stubborn, even with plenty of heat. Do you ever have problems with the mahogany or rosewood splintering and causing cosmetic damage? Any tips to avoid this?
I heat with a heatlamp, and add some water with a syringe if necessary. I use a thin spatula, working from all directions. If I feel resistance, I stop and attack from another angle. I rarely have splintering, but if I do, I peel the splinters off and glue them back in place before reinstalling the fingerboard.

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How many extra hours of work do you figure for removing the fingerboard, regluing it, and overspraying (or otherwise touching up) the neck?
About 1 1/2 hours, usually. I spend more time than that on a complete refret.

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BTW - How much curvature are we talking about with your fingerboard caul? Could you post a pic of it?
A photo would not be helpful because the curvature is so small (about 0.025"). It is made of oak, and is 1.2" thick. That is stiff enough to cause the neck to conform to the curve when it is securely clamped.

Last edited by John Arnold; 06-19-2016 at 09:35 PM.
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  #26  
Old 06-19-2016, 09:25 PM
Hot Vibrato Hot Vibrato is offline
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Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
I feel I have to post up this video here, without comment.

Thanks for posting this, by the way. It cleared up some questions about the subject. The most important thing I learned is that in the method presented, the board is planed. It's planed with zero relief without string tension, and the fret compression is merely to induce a slight back-bow so that the neck has the proper amount of relief under string tension. My impression of the process was that no effort is made to correct the irregularities in the plane of the neck, and you are relying solely on compression for this, which would indeed be imprecise and crude. This changes everything about my perception of the process. It also changes everything regarding the opinions of those who object to my methods: Luthiers who do compression fretting plane their boards. They leave theirs flat, and use compression to induce the .007"-009" amount of back-bow which is the typical measurement of a rod-less Martin with no string tension. I dress the back-bow into the board by planing under simulated string tension. The difference in the amount of material they remove vs. the amount of material I remove is just a few thousandths of an inch - significantly less than the thickness of a high E string. Anyone who would complain about that, I would not want for a customer.

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Originally Posted by 00-28 View Post
OK, agree, at least until the guitar goes up for resale.
Read my above post. There's about a .007"-.009" difference in material removed between what you deem is the proper way, and the way I do it. Is that really a deal breaker for anyone in the market for a vintage guitar, when the work is otherwise clean and precise? Without pulling the frets, I contend that nobody could possibly even distinguish whether one of my refrets is a compression job or not.

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Originally Posted by 00-28 View Post
There are more questionable Luthiers out there than ones that I trust. How do I know this? Unfortunately, experience
Unfortunately this is true. At least in this region, the majority of repairmen are grossly unqualified to work on valuable instruments, and the good repairmen spend a fair amount of time fixing botched repairs.

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Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
The problem Mike, is some people think they can buy some tools from Stewmac or some other online supplier of tools and hang a shingle over there shed in there back yard and call themselves a luthier. Calling yourself a luthier is one thing, offering that service on a commercial scale is an entirely different thing.

If a customer was silly enough to use someone like this, then they are matched for each other.

We are in a society where social media rules, it takes almost no effort to look up the person you are going to use and read reviews on them
.
Sadly, my business is not far off from your above description, but add ten years of training under a master repaiman prior to going into business for myself. I'm not in a shack, but my shop is modest.

I don't advertise my business, I'm not listed in the phone book, and I have no website. I don't do warranty work, and I don't do work for stores anymore (although several stores often refer customers to me without taking a commission). You won't find any information about me or my work on the web. ALL of my business is through word of mouth referrals from other happy customers, and they are all people I know, and their friends and acquaintances. This has many advantages. The first and most obvious is that since I work at my home, the customers are pre-screened by my own clientele. And they all seem to have nice guitars. I spend my days at my shop in my home working on Gibsons, Martins, Taylors, Fenders, Guilds, etc., and I hardly ever have to work on crappy guitars.


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Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
To this end, a wary customer will look at who endorses that luthier, are they endorsed from a manufacturer, do they work for multiple guitar stores (not one), there are lots of questions that should be asked before taking it to be repaired.
This is the saving grace of my business. Because of my word of mouth business model, virtually every new customer I have has already seen my work, or they've spoken to someone who was satisfied enough to recommend me. IME, good repairmen are in such demand, all a repairman needs to do to get business is to do exceptional work, and word catches on.
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  #27  
Old 06-19-2016, 11:57 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Sadly, my business is not far off from your above description, but add ten years of training under a master repaiman prior to going into business for myself. I'm not in a shack, but my shop is modest..
My statement is not to infer or imply all people that run repair business's from there homes are shonky, far from it.

My point is that with the influx of google searching / forums and online stores such as stewmac, too many people with too much ambition and not enough smarts and no hand skills actually open a repair shop with very little to no knowledge. They are winging it.

Its fine to ask advice on forums and be guided in doing your own home repairs, but if a commercial enterprise needs to ask questions on how to do something via a forum for a paid job, then, clearly we have some issues, first issue, if your a commercial enterprise why are you asking how to do this ????, maybe you really should not be doing it.

This is one of the issues with trades that require no governmental regulation or intervention to license.

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  #28  
Old 06-20-2016, 03:38 AM
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One of the criteria which I apply when deciding whether I can trust the advice of internet gurus is their ability to differentiate between "their" - "there" , and "your" - "you're".
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  #29  
Old 06-20-2016, 04:33 AM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
One of the criteria which I apply when deciding whether I can trust the advice of internet gurus is their ability to differentiate between "their" - "there" , and "your" - "you're".
English is not everyone's first language, so critiquing others on grammar and not the topic at hand, speaks volumes about a person.

Knowing how to seamlessly remove a fretboard from a guitar and refit it with no evidence of how it's been done has very little to do with the ability to distinguish the difference between there and their. However you go for it, feel free to get your advice on building and repairing guitars from someone that can differentiate there from their as the point of reference to being an expert in the field of Lutherie.
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Last edited by mirwa; 06-20-2016 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 06-20-2016, 05:25 AM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
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Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
My statement is not to infer or imply all people that run repair business's from there homes are shonky, far from it.

My point is that with the influx of google searching / forums and online stores such as stewmac, too many people with too much ambition and not enough smarts and no hand skills actually open a repair shop with very little to no knowledge. They are winging it.

Its fine to ask advice on forums and be guided in doing your own home repairs, but if a commercial enterprise needs to ask questions on how to do something via a forum for a paid job, then, clearly we have some issues, first issue, if your a commercial enterprise why are you asking how to do this ????, maybe you really should not be doing it.

This is one of the issues with trades that require no governmental regulation or intervention to license.

Steve
It's a myopic view that a commercial business shouldn't have to ask for advice. Not everyone in the field started off knowing everything, and not everyone in the field has encountered every single type of repair... and there's seemingly an infinite number of problems.

In fact I'd be more wary of someone that never asked for advice, claimed to know everything. ..

The best way of judging a repairman's work is through referral and previous work. There's no crystal ball that can tell us whether a new job will come out right or not. The hope is that the luthier's application of his cumulative knowledge leads to a good job.

Luthiery is one of the last bastions of freedom from governmental regulation we have. If you really think that's the answer then maybe a relocation to Venezuela may be in order! ;-)
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