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Forum topic by CharlieM1958 posted 1813 days ago 1161 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


1813 days ago

My 35-year-old Alvarez guitar is in need of some fret work. The last couple of frets closest to the nut have worn down so far that the darn thing is almost impossible to play without a capo. I’ve done a little surfing on the subject, and I’ve ordered some fret wire from Stewart-MacDonald (a couple different sizes so I can try to match what was there).

Are there any words of wisdom, must-dos, must-don’ts, learned-the-hard-ways, or other advice from my fellow jocks here?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"


27 replies so far

View mmh's profile

mmh

3381 posts in 2346 days


#1 posted 1813 days ago

Hey Charlie,
My neighbor is a luthier and I’ll try to get him to join the forum and post. He just stopped by to acquire some ebony to fix a 1928 mandolin. Meanwhile, don’t fret.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


#2 posted 1813 days ago

Hey, that’s a pun bad enough for ME to use. Thanks. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SteveE's profile

SteveE

56 posts in 2133 days


#3 posted 1813 days ago

Ohh! This thread is pertinent to my interests. I have a guitar that is hard to fret and I suspect that it is because either fret wires are worn or it is just not that great of a guitar. I too wounder how to decide what the size fret wire is correct.

-- Measure twice, cut once, bang into place

View scott83's profile

scott83

14 posts in 1813 days


#4 posted 1813 days ago

I build and repair guitars. Call me to discuss respective problems, as that’s easier for me than emailing a hundred times to troubleshoot with you.

Thanks,
Scott
678.215.3108

-- Scott

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


#5 posted 1813 days ago

Thanks, Scott. I’ll give you a call before I dive in.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

12909 posts in 2607 days


#6 posted 1813 days ago

Hey Charlie
My best advice is … everything in moderation !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


#7 posted 1813 days ago

Oh thanks, Dan. Next, I expect Odie will chime in with a goofy photo. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View woodworm's profile

woodworm

14124 posts in 2214 days


#8 posted 1813 days ago

It’s so unfortunate, I can play guitar but cannot repair it.
In fact the strings tuning also is always done by my friend (my mentor)...LOL

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View scott83's profile

scott83

14 posts in 1813 days


#9 posted 1813 days ago

Btw, my website is www.smorganmusic.com. Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Scott

-- Scott

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scott83

14 posts in 1813 days


#10 posted 1813 days ago

Hi Woodworm,
Repairing guitars is pretty easy. You only need a 16 ounce hammer. I haven’t picked up a framing hammer in years, but I still have one. Good luck on your journey to understanding wood and tools, and having a shop. My shop is 5’ by 10’. Could definitely use a little more space.

Regards,
Scott

-- Scott

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scott83

14 posts in 1813 days


#11 posted 1813 days ago

Hey SteveE,
Your problem could be set up and adjustment rather than fret related. Hard to say without looking at it. Can you post pictures?

Later,
Scott

-- Scott

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2382 posts in 2061 days


#12 posted 1813 days ago

Those frets are the easiest to replace. you’ll need to make a block about 4×4” to put under the neck. make a cup in the top to accept the neck and if possible line it with felt or at least place a folded washcloth in it. Use some tape, elecrical works good to tape down the wood on each side of the fret. Stretch the tape if using elecrical and it will act just like a clamp to hold down the wood to avoid any chipout at the fret edges.
Buy some front tine pliers. they’re used for clipping wires. They have a blade that is perpendicular to the handles, on the front of the pliers. Put them on a grinder so that they make a flat surface when held on the fretboard but till have a sharp edge to grab the fret. Pull the fret from the middle then the ends with a back and forth rocking motion.
When you replace the fret be sure your block is directly under the fret and hammer it on with a metal head hammer. tap it in. clip the ends of the frets off.
You’ll need a large flat millers file to file them the same level as the others. Then carefully round them with a small three cornered file and file the ends flush and tapered on the ends. Buff them with steel wool and you’re done.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 1894 days


#13 posted 1813 days ago

I don’t do anything with guitars or instruments myself, but I know that one of the owners of Grizzly is a guitar afficianado…I’ve seen kits and various supplies on their web page and in their catalog…...that said though it appears there are quite a few folks here that have you covered….just wanted to add my good luck in here.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15683 posts in 2842 days


#14 posted 1813 days ago

Craftsman, thanks for the good how-to. I think I have all the tools already, so it’s just a matter of technique. Good tip about taping down the surrounding wood to avoid chip-out. That’s exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Craftsman on the lake

2382 posts in 2061 days


#15 posted 1813 days ago

You’re welcome. I may be sweating the desks and drawers and such but I’ve made a few dozen guitars in my day. and repaired upteen of them over the years.

Don’t forget to leave the tape on if you can till you get the new frets in. If there is any loose wood the tape will rip it off. But if you put the new frets on then the fret will hold the wood on for the tape to be removed.

Also, the tang.. small hooks on the fret… sometimes are for new fret slots. Old fretslots may be too wide. They sell wide tang frets but another technique that works good with an ebony fretboard because it’s black with no visible grain, is to mix some ebony dust with epoxy, then fill the fret slot, file and sand, and recut the fretslot after. Please don’t try to glue the fret in. It’s a nasty trick to play on the next guitar repair person. The fret is removed and takes half the fretboard with it.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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