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Gibson Partial Refret with Binding Nibs

6/24/14

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1. A Gibson.  This Les Paul classic is about 10 years old and is suffering from fret buzz.  There is some fret ware and the neck is a little warped. 2. A Low Fret.  With the truss rod adjusted straight, the first fret is a few thousandths of an inch lower than the rest of the frets.  It looks like someone filed it down a little, probably in an attempt to get rid of the fret buzz.  I’ll replace this low fret then level, recrown and polish all of the frets.
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3. Binding Nibs are the little raised sections of binding at the fret ends on most Gibson guitars with binding.  Nibs are a result of the manufacturing process used by Gibson up until the model year 2014. 4. The Process.  The factory would install the frets, file them flush to the side of the fretboard, then glue the binding to the fretboard.  The crowning marks on the top of the fret are from a previous attempt to repair the fret.
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5. Factory Tool Marks.  The factory would then file or scrape the binding flush with the fret ends and edge of the fretboard prior to spraying the lacquer finish.  Tool marks in the rosewood, side of the frets and binding are a by product of this process.  The chips in the lacquer are just ware and tare. 6. Removing the First Fret.  Flush-ground end-nippers force the fret up out of the fret slot while simultaneously pushing down on the fretboard.  Heating the fret with a modified soldering gun prevents chipping.  I shield the pickups with mu-metal to prevent demagnetization from the gun’s emf.
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7. Preparing the Fret Slot.  I clean out any glue or other gunk from the fret slot with an exacto knife and mini pull-saw.  I also chamfer the fret slot. 8. Preparing the Fret starts with LMI’s fret tang filing tool.  This will make it easier to fit the fret between the two binding nibs.  This nickel silver 6105 fretwire came pre-bent to 12″ radius.
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9. Pre-Grinding the bass-side fret end on the disc-sander. 10. Chamfering the Crown of the fret end gets rid of any burrs left by the disc-sander.
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11. Fret End Ready.  The tang is filed back, the crown is ground plumb to the side of the fretboard and lightly chamfered. 12. Trimming the other end of the fret with large flush-ground end-nippers.  I repeat the tang filing, grinding and chamfering process on the treble side of the fret.
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13. Installing the Fret.  I press, glue and clamp the fret with super glue and stew mac’s original jaws tool. 14. Ready For Leveling.  With the new fret glued in place dress the fret end, then level crown and polish the frets in the usual fashion using simulated string tension.
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15. A Partial Refret.  The replacement fret is tough to spot. The fret fits perfectly flush to both binding nibs with no gaps. 16. Tool Marks.  The only indication that the fret isn’t original is the lack of tool marks in the fret because I neither had to file or scrape the binding.  The original tool marks in the fretboard and binding remain.
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17. Level Frets allow this guitar to be set up with low action and no fret buzz. 18. All Done.