RE-FRETTING A GUITAR

 
(561) 706-6011

View Larger Map

When it comes to re-fretting a guitar some different methods apply.
 
First, many times an owner requests a fret job because their frets have fret wear or indentations. A good technician will take a measurement of the existing fret height to determine whether the existing frets can be re-crowned (shaped) prior to agreeing that a fret job (full or partial) is the remedy.
 
Fret crowning is a money saver, fret saver, and a process, but that's not the discussion here. Crowning frets will be another topic.
 
The topic here is removing and replacing all, or partial, frets. The process is whether frets will be hammerd in, press in, or glued in. So the question is: To glue or not to glue?
 
Traditional fretting is removing the worn frets and hammering in new frets sized accordingly to the fret slot by way of crimping or expanding the fret tang and fret barbs. This traditional method requires the seasoned know-how of the technician, that is, that an exact fit happens and the new fret matches the fingerboard radius. Simply no air pocket or gap exists after the new fret(s) is installed.
 
Post traditional is exacting the same process aforementioned, but now inserting a glue, epoxy, or cyanoacrylate into the fret slot then hammering in the fret(s). The argument here is that a solid fret to board contact is made and no air pockets or gaps exist. Thus, a solid fret makes for a solid connection of sound.
 
Turning to the method of inserting new frets there is the hammer in method and the press in method regardless of whether frets are glued in. Here, a fret press is the tool used to evenly apply pressure to a fret that is squeezed in. A fret press is a remarkable tool and is quite effective.
 
Production fretting (factory fretting) is by way of an over-head fret press. I've seen this device in operation at the factory(s). Its automated, fast, and productive (of course). The process is pressured in to an exact fret slot, that is, this is not the glue in process.
 
So simply stated for this discussion, traditional hammer in fretting is still a method in use and requires seasoned experience to exact a correct fit of fret to fingerboard. While glue in fretting is a method that will seal any gaps, make a solid connection between the fret and finger-board to deliver a strong sound, and will probably strenghten a neck to help avoid dead spots (see dead spot article).
 
In close, this is a sound-byte of the fretting process. Other issues such as fret compression, fret size, and fret crowning will be explored in furture articles. So, stay tuned.