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Completed My First Refret


Mind Riot
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Well, my first ever refret is done. It was an interesting and very informative experience, and I learned a great deal about a lot of things.

I documented the process with pictures and text and posted it over on the HC guitar forum, so instead of doing the whole thing again here I thought I'd just post a link to the thread so anyone interested could check it out.

It was done on a friend's cheap Epiphone LP Special II that was about thirteen years old. I back cut and hid the tangs on this, and filled the ends with superglue.

Here's the link:

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums...d.php?t=1752254

There's certainly some things I would do differently if I had it to do over again, and I made a couple stupid mistakes that I should have known better than to do, but I'm just glad it didn't turn out to be a complete disaster. :D

Edited by Mind Riot
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Just finished the entire read. Good job. I really like how you hung in there, and came up with some nice ways of how to recover from the errors. All that hard work AND it has a set of EMGs? Your buddy better love the nice job you did and be kissing your butt, cause you did a great job polishing a turd.

hehe

At checkout your post, very interesting. I did a quick skim over through the post. So if I miss something. Please don't slap me. The first thing is, I saw no straight edges or better yet, a notched straight edge to check where the fingerboard was before you yanked out all the frets. Or if the fingerboard needed a truss rod adjustment prior to strapping up the neck. The second item is the dial indicators that are missing from your jig. There was a reason to include these indicators and the reason was to bring the neck back into its original alignment without the strings attached. I know it's hard for some people to understand, because I didn't get in until recently. You really need to buy tutorial materials that instruct you on how and why he should be doing a procedure. I realized after many years of going it alone the videos really did help explain many of the procedures I had not though of on my own. The Stew Mac fretting videos would have saved you some grief in the entire process. Thankfully, you are practicing on a fairly inexpensive instrument, not that you can say anybody's instrument is garbage because it's what they play. If you had the videos, the mistakes you made wouldn't have happened and the fret job would've gone a lot easier. You did a good job considering the approach you took, but if you really want to do this for a living and start yanking frets on more expensive instruments, buy the videos and add those indicators.

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I won't slap you, but in fact you did miss a lot. :D

I explained in my post that I used my Stew Mac precision straightedge to adjust the truss rod with the guitar in the playing position until the neck read straight against it. I then placed the support rods to where they were just touching the back of the neck, and put the guitar and jig back down and removed the strings.

I then used the headstock jack and strap to push the neck back until it read straight against the straightedge again, so it was as close as I could get it to the same position it was when it was strung. My mistake in this case was not double checking the clearance of the headstock jack before I pulled the frets, because the jack wouldn't fit under the headstock and I had to reposition the guitar and thus the support rods. So once I could get the jack under there, I had to just push the headstock up to where it read straight against the straightedge and could only use the straightedge as my reference. So my mistake cost me the added precision of making the neck sit back straight on the support rods. Just an oversight that came from it being the first time I had used the jig.

As far as the dial calipers, I may add them later at some point. But I feel I should point out that the original iterations of the neck jig didn't have them, and even these days I've seen neck jigs that don't use them. While I agree that they are useful and a good thing to have I don't agree with the mentality that a neck jig is useless or incomplete without them. Just being able to force the neck back straight against a straightedge and support it while the truss rod is tensioned is a very useful thing, and not every luthier uses a neck jig at all or uses one with calipers if they do.

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If you had the dial indicators, you could get into a fetal position on the neck-jig and record the measurement, then always be able to get into the optimum fetal position in the future. And I know all too well there is an optimum fetal position.

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I still don't particularly see the point of checking how flat/straight the fingerboard is with a notched straighedge. If you can't adjust the fret tops sufficiently flat to level them out, you already know you need to yank the frets and level and/or work on any twist in some other way (heat, clamps, etc.)

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At least one point of the NSE is that you can ignore someone elses quick and dirty fret-work (even your own, as in the case of experimenting with fatter tang frets to see what they'll do to a spongy neck).

Great tool for fret-work. I'm so lazy sometimes, I just use the NSE to also read the fret-tops, by lifting it and moving it to the left slightly.

By the way, my last post won't make a damn bit a sense if you haven't read MR's HC post.

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I think I appreciate the indicators as they provide a visual reference rather than just seeing the neck touch a rod cover. It is also possible to change the pressure unknowingly without this visual reference. The rod will not move even if the pressure increases but an indicator will if the rods are spread far enough apart. Just like any tool, techniques (in this case jigs) evolve. Now that a set of HF indicators are very very cheap it may be worth adding them. Back when the original jigs were developed using just rods, indicators cost big bucks. A good reason for not adding them to a product like the original SM jig.

I have a post somewhere where I built a neck jig myself but it was a SM copy. I also found my jack was too big but I strapped up a test guitar first to check the jig or I would have had the same problem you did. If you move the body after its set up even indicators wont help. Another trip to Lowe's to buy a smaller turnbuckle solved my jack problem.

I do skim sorry, I do that too much, must be old age kicking in or I am too lazy to read or both. The NSE certainly helps when you have a truss rod to adjust while the guitar is strung to tension. As Soapbarstrat says don't trust the frets check the board, I am purposely not saying trust the board, but I do trust my NSE. You want to adjust the board straight with the truss rod and a standard straight edge will only go so far especialy if you have a repair to make. At least I think thats what he means, see I'm skimming again. At least you can see how far off the board is or how straight it is. Certainly gives you an idea of what work you need to do to get the job done once you yank the frets.

All of this was covered in the SM vids so I am just repeating other peoples work. I would also limit my strap width on the headstock to 1" or less because you want to focus the pressure in a limited area (looked like a wide strap in your picts but it could be my optical delusions). I am still trying to figure out the fetal position technique with the indicators since it must be important, must find MR's HC post and skim some more, LOL.

Again just my two cents worth of advice.

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If you had the dial indicators, you could get into a fetal position on the neck-jig and record the measurement, then always be able to get into the optimum fetal position in the future. And I know all too well there is an optimum fetal position.

Proper fetal position technique is essential to coaxing my muse out of hiding. Oftentimes I can't come up with any ideas until I've spent some time weeping on the floor. Makes my wife a little irritated sometimes, when she asks me where I'd like to go to dinner and I collapse into a weeping lump of blubber for ten minutes before I answer.

All of this was covered in the SM vids so I am just repeating other peoples work. I would also limit my strap width on the headstock to 1" or less because you want to focus the pressure in a limited area (looked like a wide strap in your picts but it could be my optical delusions). I am still trying to figure out the fetal position technique with the indicators since it must be important, must find MR's HC post and skim some more, LOL.

Again just my two cents worth of advice.

The strap is 3/4" wide. Seems to work okay.

I would love to have a notched straight edge, but at some point I have to decide how much I want to invest in tools for all this. Unlike many people here, I'm not now nor do I really intend to work on guitars for a living. I started doing this in order to get my cheaper guitars up to better playing condition, and possibly to help out some friends with their guitars if the needed it. Thus far I've invested over five hundred dollars in tools for what is essentially a hobby that I'm not making any money at.

I might end up making a guitar from scratch, but it would again be for myself or a friend, not for sale.

I know many people on this forum are pretty much on the cutting edge of technology and technique when it comes to fret work, and I think that's really cool. But man, these tools get expensive really quick and I'm not making any money back. It might mean a compromise in that last little bit of precision and quality, but ultimately if the guitars play good and the player is satisfied then that's the benchmark for success, and I've been getting increasingly good results using the tools I have and gaining experience.

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Well you have reached the first stage of "why did I start this in the first place". Everything is expensive. If you want to build guitars what you spent for the refret project is going to seem like a bargain. But I always say its the first guitar that costs 10 grand the rest are cheap to make. This is not a hobby for people with limited funds and a fetal posistion is probably cheaper in the long run. Run now (or ball up) before its too late.

If you have expensive tools you can make tools; another catch 22. Good luck.

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