Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Re-fretting

1

Hi guys, I am having my 67 country gent re-fretted. It's the 2nd time around, since I fell out of love with it after the last fret job. I am going for the original fret type but don't know what they where. I just remember they where low and smooth to play.

Anyone there that can help me.

2

My '64 came with smaller style frets, which I prefer. It needed a re-fret due to being deeply grooved when I got it but the issue this era had was that the fret ends didn't overhang the binding but ended at the edge of the fretboard. Adding to narrowing the usable overall width of the fretboard, was the fret ends had a shallow chamfer instead of being rounded off at the ends. Gretsch had installed the frets first and then hammered the binding over the sharp fret ends. I suggest you ensure your luthier doesn't repeat this faux pas.

3

They are thinner than 6105's, but I'm not sure of the exact size. I do have 6105 on one Gretsch and they are very close in size and just as comfortable as the old ones.

4

What don't you like about the current fret job? Is it not well done? Or are the frets too high for you? Perhaps you could just ask if he can lower them a bit?

5

What don't you like about the current fret job? Is it not well done? Or are the frets too high for you? Perhaps you could just ask if he can lower them a bit?

– Danman

They are too high and I have a tendancy to slide the high and low E off the edge making it difficult to play.

6

They are too high and I have a tendancy to slide the high and low E off the edge making it difficult to play.

– Gardar

Where do the frets end? Inside the binding or over the binding? Are the edges very slanted or rounded?
Basically a good repairman should be able to advise you about this while looking at the guitar.
If the edges are too rounded or too slanted then planing the frets will make them a bit wider and in some cases that could be enough. And the frets will be lower too, so that is an added bonus.
Perhaps you could post a close up of the frets.

7

The string slots are cut too close to the edge of the fret ends. I say fret ends and not the fretboard because the two aren't necessarily the same. If, as I mentioned was the case on my '64 Gent, the dam frets were incorrectly installed before the binding and ended at the edge of the fingerboard and didn't properly overhang the binding - cut the tang off - AND also had the ends chamfered at a shallow angle. If this is the case with your poor refret job, it's a given you're going to push both E strings over the edge of the fretboard without much effort.

First advice is to seek a competent luthier to fix the issue. If the frets aren't overhanging the binding and simply rounded off on the ends, you're looking at another fret job. And bear in mind that the treatment of the ends of the frets dictates where the nut slots should be cut! This only makes sense. I'd like to see a close up of the fret ends please. If the frets don't extend and/or are shallowly chamfered, a new fret job should cure the problem and save you the cost of getting a new nut as well. A pic is needed to see what the issue is/are.

As far as the frets being too high, there's only so much any luthier can do to reduce a .090" high fret down to .050" in the sense that it's all but impossible to create a nice crown and you'll end up with the lower part of the fret having a bit of a vertical 'wall' that if you slide up the neck with your fingers on the strings, there'll be a bump, bump, bump effect as you go over each fret. If the frets are too high for your liking and you're looking at another fret job, consider going with a much lower fret that has a nice crown that your fingers will just glide over when sliding.

BTW, I had my '41 Synchro refretted because of a severe shallow chamfer that had both E strings going off the fretboard making it unplayable for my fingerstyle. Nicole use the same frets she refretted my Super Chet with, which are wide vintage frets and only .035 high. They're just butter to glide over on both guitars. No 'walls' on the fret sides to keep clunking into and over.

8

The string slots are cut too close to the edge of the fret ends. I say fret ends and not the fretboard because the two aren't necessarily the same. If, as I mentioned was the case on my '64 Gent, the dam frets were incorrectly installed before the binding and ended at the edge of the fingerboard and didn't properly overhang the binding - cut the tang off - AND also had the ends chamfered at a shallow angle. If this is the case with your poor refret job, it's a given you're going to push both E strings over the edge of the fretboard without much effort.

First advice is to seek a competent luthier to fix the issue. If the frets aren't overhanging the binding and simply rounded off on the ends, you're looking at another fret job. And bear in mind that the treatment of the ends of the frets dictates where the nut slots should be cut! This only makes sense. I'd like to see a close up of the fret ends please. If the frets don't extend and/or are shallowly chamfered, a new fret job should cure the problem and save you the cost of getting a new nut as well. A pic is needed to see what the issue is/are.

As far as the frets being too high, there's only so much any luthier can do to reduce a .090" high fret down to .050" in the sense that it's all but impossible to create a nice crown and you'll end up with the lower part of the fret having a bit of a vertical 'wall' that if you slide up the neck with your fingers on the strings, there'll be a bump, bump, bump effect as you go over each fret. If the frets are too high for your liking and you're looking at another fret job, consider going with a much lower fret that has a nice crown that your fingers will just glide over when sliding.

BTW, I had my '41 Synchro refretted because of a severe shallow chamfer that had both E strings going off the fretboard making it unplayable for my fingerstyle. Nicole use the same frets she refretted my Super Chet with, which are wide vintage frets and only .035 high. They're just butter to glide over on both guitars. No 'walls' on the fret sides to keep clunking into and over.

– Windsordave

You are describing why I stopped playing my gretsch. I sent your text to my lutherian. Do you have stock/item # for the wide vintage frets?

9

The string slots are cut too close to the edge of the fret ends. I say fret ends and not the fretboard because the two aren't necessarily the same. If, as I mentioned was the case on my '64 Gent, the dam frets were incorrectly installed before the binding and ended at the edge of the fingerboard and didn't properly overhang the binding - cut the tang off - AND also had the ends chamfered at a shallow angle. If this is the case with your poor refret job, it's a given you're going to push both E strings over the edge of the fretboard without much effort.

First advice is to seek a competent luthier to fix the issue. If the frets aren't overhanging the binding and simply rounded off on the ends, you're looking at another fret job. And bear in mind that the treatment of the ends of the frets dictates where the nut slots should be cut! This only makes sense. I'd like to see a close up of the fret ends please. If the frets don't extend and/or are shallowly chamfered, a new fret job should cure the problem and save you the cost of getting a new nut as well. A pic is needed to see what the issue is/are.

As far as the frets being too high, there's only so much any luthier can do to reduce a .090" high fret down to .050" in the sense that it's all but impossible to create a nice crown and you'll end up with the lower part of the fret having a bit of a vertical 'wall' that if you slide up the neck with your fingers on the strings, there'll be a bump, bump, bump effect as you go over each fret. If the frets are too high for your liking and you're looking at another fret job, consider going with a much lower fret that has a nice crown that your fingers will just glide over when sliding.

BTW, I had my '41 Synchro refretted because of a severe shallow chamfer that had both E strings going off the fretboard making it unplayable for my fingerstyle. Nicole use the same frets she refretted my Super Chet with, which are wide vintage frets and only .035 high. They're just butter to glide over on both guitars. No 'walls' on the fret sides to keep clunking into and over.

– Windsordave

You are describing why I stopped playing my gretsch. I sent your text to my lutherian. Do you have stock/item # for the wide vintage frets?

10

You are describing why I stopped playing my gretsch. I sent your text to my lutherian. Do you have stock/item # for the wide vintage frets?

– Gardar

No, sorry I don't have any manufacturer or stock/item #'s to help you out. I just told Nicole I wanted low, vintage style frets similar to the ones now on the '41 Synchro that she was going to replace. She knows I like very low frets from previous re-fretting of other guitars of mine. I liked the ones she installed so she put the same ones on my Super Chet. They're approx. .104" wide x .035" high.

11

Thx, i found them on stewmac size:

0.106 0.036

Rock n' roll.

Thx for all your help.

I'll post details when the job is done.

G

12

Now it is the radius of the board. My lutherian tells me it is close to 9.5 at the neck through 12 and ends at 14. The bridge is 12.

What would be std?

G

13

Not sure what would've been the norm back then. I never measured the radius on my '64 gent but as I recall how it felt, I'd say it was 12. Others are better qualified to weigh in on this issue. The problem as I see it is with a 9.5 bridge radius to match the most used area of the fingerboard, the action needs to be set high enough so the outer string don't bottom out when playing particularly in the upper fret area. Personally if this were my problem, I'd have the neck taken down to 12, not a problem for a top luthier. Curt would be the best to consult on this issue so perhaps you could PM him.

That guitar was an oddball in that it was only 1.5" wide at the zero fret and a few around here have reported the same thing. This fact, added to the fret end issue I went into previously, made for an uncomfortable situation for playing until I had it re-fretted properly.

BTW, luthiers who know what they're doing have two prices for re-fretting. The cheaper price is for necks with no binding and the more expensive price for necks with binding as it requires the extra work of carefully nipping the tang off both ends so when installed, the fret correctly overhangs the binding. The ends get simply rounded off by polishing. This allows the binding to become part of the playing surface of the fingerboard.

14

Great input dave? My luthier explained to me that he would cut the tang so the fret could extend over the bindings.

I'll see if i can pm curt for further advice.

Thx again

15

Curt = Curt Wilson?

16

Curt of Old School Guitars, one of this sites sponsors.

17

On the bench ready for the new frets.

18

BTW, how is the action of the Bigsby's arm. Is it easy to move the arm and get the expected result? In other words does it feel stiff to use? I ask because with the strings off, you could put in a Reverend soft spring when you re-string it. Just a thought.

19

Talking about the bigsy. Is supposed to be fixed somehow to the body. The different tension of the wouned strings has bent something in it so it is pushed downward. I fixed by dbl taping the bridge to hold strings on place.

20

Do you mean that the strings' tension, not your playing, pushes the base/bridge toward the pickguard?? If the base/bridge moves either toward or away from the pickguard so that the strings do not run parallel to the neck's edges, then the Bigsby isn't properly aligned. Depending on how much out of alignment it might be, the problem can be exacerbated by the base not being contoured properly to then top, allowing the base to move.

The proper fix is to have the Bigsby removed, the holes filled correctly and re-installed so it is now properly aligned. Two sided tape isn't the best fix if you don't want to re-align the Bigsby because that tension is going to constantly exert pressure on the base to move. The better fix, but still second to re-aligning the Bigsby would be to have the bridge pinned. The base is aligned so the intonation is what it has to be and the edges marked on the top. Very small pins are installed in the top and corresponding holes drilled into the bottom of the base - but not through to the top! The base sits over the holes and won't budge. Even when the alignment issue is fixed, you may want to pin the bridge anyway just for insurance sake.

21

If you don't have a decent break angle it could be that you need a neck reset. Guitars with a good break don't need pins or tape.

22

Thanks from me Curt, I forgot to mention that fact. In your experience, are mid '60's Gretsch Gents et al often in need of neck resets? I know there can be an issue with the break angle if the guitar didn't originally come with a Bigsby but the Gents did. If this neck needs a reset, would the joint show evidence of coming apart?

23

I'm guessing that the gents were built by the more experienced employees, good break angle and very few need the necks set.

Best way to check is to remove the strings and then see if and gaps form with a little neck pressure. Sometimes they pivot on the screw.

24

Hi guys, thx for all the grest answers. In my case I believe that the "hinge" in the bigsby has been bent by the stronger tension of the lower Strings, so now unless i tape the brigde the softest strum pishes the whole assebly down.

25

Hi guys, thx for all the grest answers. In my case I believe that the "hinge" in the bigsby has been bent by the stronger tension of the lower Strings, so now unless i tape the brigde the softest strum pishes the whole assebly down.

– Gardar

I Bigsby hinge can't be bent by the tension of the strings unless you're using bridge cables for strings! To be bent, it would have to be taken off and bent mechanically as they're very strong. We really need to see a few good pics of this hinge please to try and understand fully the issue with it.

As I said previously, the bridge base will move for only a few reasons: the Bigsby was installed off-center; the base isn't contoured to the top properly, the break angle is insufficient (Curt's suggestion) or the strings are so light they aren't applying enough tension to anchor the bridge.

If a soft strum causes movement, you have a serious issue. I suggest you get this guitar to a competent luthier. If the one you're using is having to take instructions from my comments, he isn't of high enough caliber to fix this guitar. It sounds to me he just does the work you request and hasn't recognized the issues at play here. Go to a competent luthier. Tell us where you live and you should get some good suggestions of who to go see. Your best bet IMO might be just to pack it up and send it to Curt who'll give you an accurate appraisal of what the issues are and the cost to fix them. He is the number one most recognized luthier by members of this website and whose work is unparalleled. Just click on Old School Guitars on the right of this page for more information.


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