1958 Gibson Les Paul Special Refret
Bob Thompson brought us this awesome 1958 Gibson Les Paul Special which belongs to Jason Hearst, of Hearstudios.
One of things that helps us get such great results with out refrets is using this neck jig. The whole guitar gets strapped into the system and then it gets tilted on it's side into a playing position.
With the guitar tuned to pitch, we set these gauges so they are touching the neck but not registering any pressure.
When the jig is tilted back so the frets are facing upward, you can see how both gauges are now showing 3 to 4 thousandths of an inch difference, just from the effects of gravity.
When the strings are then removed, you can see that the neck is now bowing back even further (about 0.033" at the 3rd fret)
The neck jig has a jack that allows us to introduce pressure to the back of the headstock to simulate string tension (which has been done here). This allows us to refret the instrument without strings on while simulating the same state it would be while in use.
We start by removing the old frets and sanding the neck. We want to remove as little material as possible while sanding the neck down to a uniform surface. You can see here where years of playing have created some low spots in the fret board.
The frets are then sanded to ensure they are all a uniform height and shape as well. We mentioned on a previous post how we can use the dust to find any low spots on the frets themselves but, it is all looking good here!
Once the frets have been completed, we then oil the fretboard itself with linseed oil. During the refretting process, solvents are used to remove tape and buffing compound from the fretboard, which can also remove the natural oils from the wood. Linseed oil helps to replace these and also makes the fretboard look quite nice.
Here we have the completed frets and fretboard looking good as new. Now we have to move on to replacing the nut.
The guitar came with a nylon nut which we had planned to use for the replacement. However, we were not satisfied with the quality of the new nylon nut blanks we had as they were more flexible and not as hard as the original so, it was decided that bone would be used for the replacement instead. Here, we have the blank in place being marked off to the correct size.
The shaped nut is then installed in the guitar and we use this gauge to mark where the new string slots need to be.
Now that the nut has been finished, we can string this old beauty back up and go through our setup process.