1. #1

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    I snagged a dream guitar, L-5CES, a couple of months ago. This one is from 1997 and needed some attention in order to realize its full potential. Upon receipt, there was plenty of evidence the guitar had been played over the years (thumb wear, pitted frets, various finish nicks, worn plating), but it was all original and structurally solid. I'm guessing it had already received one or two fret levelings before I got it, because after I addressed the pitting, along with a couple of annoying buzzes, there wasn't much crown left. Pic below shows cross section of old fret vs new.



    I used the biggest wire I had at my disposal. With a crown width of .110/height .055, It definitely addressed the fatigue I was experiencing. While I was at it I addressed a slight rise in the fb extension, made a new pick guard (the original had lost most of its color and had become quite transparent), also made an ebony saddle to replace the ABR-1. Now, the guitar is fully realized and plays effortlessly.

    Before


    During


    After




    Thanks to Hammertone, I'll be receiving a period correct case in the next month or two. As well, thanks to all those who's posts/contributions helped in guiding my approach. I've done plenty of fret work in my time, but I have to say I was rather nervous about this job.
    Last edited by telephone; 06-26-2021 at 02:03 PM.

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  3. #2

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    My favorite fretwire specs! It can absolutely make all the difference in the world. Play it in good health!

  4. #3

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    Beautiful work now I have a question. Do you glue frets, press them in, or use a jaws type pliers? Personally over the years I have finally come around to not pressing frets I use the hammer. I think it seats the fret better and of course on a guitar with the neck already on at some point you have to hammer. Finally I tend to run a bead of titebond glue in the slot. I realize that titebond is a wood glue but it still will set and take up space in the slot. Luthier Ed Schafer told me that is how he did it and since then I generally do this. Everyone in awhile it can call for CA glue if the frets seem to not want to stay solid. I find this very rare mostly on really older guitars. Years ago I got a first class fret tang nipper from Jescar and it is far superior to the one Stew-mac sells. I bet it saved me an hours work over the old one on a each fret job.

    The guitar and bridge look great!

  5. #4

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    it's great seeing one w/playwear. seems like 95% of modern Gibson archtops [or modern higher end archtops in general] I see are closet queens that owners pull out for some pics, maybe strum a few chords then back in the case they go, but hey whatever floats their dingys. of course it's possible to play the hell out of a guitar @ home and keep it super clean, just cool seeing one that was probably gigged heavily.
    nice work getting that one up to snuff.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by telephone
    I snagged a dream guitar, L-5CES, a couple of months ago. This one is from 1997 and needed some attention in order to realize its full potential. Upon receipt, there was plenty of evidence the guitar had been played over the years (thumb wear, pitted frets, various finish nicks, worn plating), but it was all original and structurally solid. I'm guessing it had already received one or two fret levelings before I got it, because after I addressed the pitting, along with a couple of annoying buzzes, there wasn't much crown left. Pic below shows cross section of old fret vs new.



    I used the biggest wire I had at my disposal. With a crown width of .110/height .055, It definitely addressed the fatigue I was experiencing. While I was at it I addressed a slight rise in the fb extension, made a new pick guard (the original had lost most of its color and had become quite transparent), also made an ebony saddle to replace the ABR-1. Now, the guitar is fully realized and plays effortlessly.

    Before


    During


    After




    Thanks to Hammertone, I'll be receiving a period correct case in the next month or two. As well, thanks to all those who's posts/contributions helped in guiding my approach. I've done plenty of fret work in my time, but I have to say I was rather nervous about this job.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Beautiful work now I have a question. Do you glue frets, press them in, or use a jaws type pliers? Personally over the years I have finally come around to not pressing frets I use the hammer. I think it seats the fret better and of course on a guitar with the neck already on at some point you have to hammer. Finally I tend to run a bead of titebond glue in the slot. I realize that titebond is a wood glue but it still will set and take up space in the slot. Luthier Ed Schafer told me that is how he did it and since then I generally do this. Everyone in awhile it can call for CA glue if the frets seem to not want to stay solid. I find this very rare mostly on really older guitars. Years ago I got a first class fret tang nipper from Jescar and it is far superior to the one Stew-mac sells. I bet it saved me an hours work over the old one on a each fret job.

    The guitar and bridge look great!
    Thanks! This job had its challenges... I won’t bore you with the minutiae. In the end, I hammered em in, waxed the fb, and seeped CA under the bead until all was set. Not my preference, but after cleaning out the slots (which ended up at around .024 wide) I was having a bit of a struggle with the ends seating well. I tried expanding the tang, which made me nervous about possibly putting too much backbow in the neck. The method that worked the best was to over-radius the wire much more than usual, and tap them in. The last few frets were de-barbed and gently hammered in. All that said, I would have rather just used a bead of tite bond like you mentioned.

    As for nipping the tangs, I just cut em with my flush-cut pliers and file what remains. It’s time to invest in a decent trimmer. Will probably go with Jescar.

    I have to rant for a moment about Gibson’s penchant for nibs. They drive me absolutely crazy. Aside from cosmetics, they’re a pain in the rear for the next guy who has to deal with em when re-fretting.

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    it's great seeing one w/playwear. seems like 95% of modern Gibson archtops [or modern higher end archtops in general] I see are closet queens that owners pull out for some pics, maybe strum a few chords then back in the case they go, but hey whatever floats their dingys. of course it's possible to play the hell out of a guitar @ home and keep it super clean, just cool seeing one that was probably gigged heavily.
    nice work getting that one up to snuff.
    Yeah, this was clearly a real working man’s instrument - played, but taken care of. I’m glad it has its battle scars. Makes it much easier to take to the gig. It’ll continue to get played out, but maybe not as rigorously as it was in the past.
    Last edited by telephone; 06-27-2021 at 12:42 AM.