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  1. #1

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    I have a ‘76 L5 with what I suspect are the original low, wide frets. This style of fret didn’t seem to catch on. Does anyone actually favor them today? Do they have advantages I’m not noticing? And if you were re-fretting an L5, what style fret wire would you choose?

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  3. #2

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    The low frets stole a fair amount of tone your guitar. Your hands will fatigue quicker with the low frets. The larger frets will generally be easier to play, especially chords and chord melody.
    The wide flat frets were good on shredder guitars. But the medium jumbos are just as good in my opinion.
    I was afraid to put different frets in my 76 Johnny Smith. But it was the best move I made with the guitar.

  4. #3

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    I luthiated heavily in the later 70’s.

    This was the era of low wide frets and the asinine brass nut craze.

    Low wide frets have one tiny advantage and that is fast vertical movement on the FB at the expense of absolutely everything else.

    Which is close to useless really.

    The disadvantages are many.

    Get some decent frets on there and start playing.

    As for what style, as you asked,:

    Get so called medium-jumbo or even “jumbo”. Taller frets are very forgiving with heavier strings, and only provide the opportunity for a more clear articulate style.

    Sorry to be weird and associate actual data with an opinion here, but:

    Think of a medium-jumbo fret as having a height of about 1.00 to 1.15 mm, roughly.

    A true “jumbo” is more like 1.25mm and above.

    This can sound like a small difference, but you will definitely feel it when playing.

    Definitely get rid of those disco-era silly low and wide frets and start making articulate musical sounds.

    In my opinion.

    Chris

  5. #4

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    Hey Chris, I couldn’ta said it better myself!
    Joe D

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405 View Post
    Hey Chris, I couldn’ta said it better myself!
    Joe D
    I think you already had said it better.

  7. #6

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    Anybody know the exact type of frets on a L5 CES of current production?

  8. #7

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    EDIT: I went and checked a few measurements and slightly adjusted my approximate dimensions below:

    **************

    I have no idea of the exact maker of the wire they are using. I suppose one could use the dimensions and check that vs. the current offerings from the major suppliers.

    And if course they could change wire used from time to time as well - but it seems very consistent over relatively recent years.

    It is approximately 2,75 mm (.108 inch) wide. And while final crowned height can vary from one guitar to another as well as along a given neck, look for a typical finished height of approximately 1,15 mm (.045 inch).

    This is a wide modern fret that straddles between “medium jumbo” and “jumbo”.

    There are higher frets out there, but they would most typically be on a bass or shredder configuration.

    Remember that .2mm is a very large difference in final fret height in terms of playing feel.

    The quite wide crown on these frets allows a rather flat radius on the top of the fret crown making them very easy to move over when heading north and south. And the ~1,15 mm height means your fingers are not driving into the FB just to get a clean note with some of the trickier reaches.
    Last edited by ptchristopher3; 05-25-2019 at 07:54 PM. Reason: spelling

  9. #8

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    Here is a decent chart if one wanted to investigate.

    Fretwire chart

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Anybody know the exact type of frets on a L5 CES of current production?
    An former Memphis Gibson employee told me that most guitars come with the following fretwire:

    Jescar Fret Wire 47095 – Jescar

    I know it's hearsay, although I'd say it's right on the money of the few what I've had passing through my workbench measure-wise, but I can't really tell if they're actually Jescar or not.

    OTOH, *I* wouldn't use any other fretwire for my own instruments.
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy
    https://soundcloud.com/theodore-koja...hy-bro-project
    Hy-Bro Test Sound Files

  11. #10

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    My teacher's L5 had been refretted by Rob Engel in CT. I believe he used 6120 dunlop fretwire for the job. Looked and sounded perfect to me, so when I got a '61 Guild X-50, I had it refretted by Rob, with 6120 frets. They are perfect.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mad dog View Post
    [...] I had it refretted by Rob, with 6120 frets. They are perfect.
    And for those keeping score, 6120 is a modern “jumbo” fret. A little wider and likely to finish a bit higher than the frets on my 2015 Byrdland (which has a very typical modern “Gibson Custom” fret job). There are higher frets out there vs. the 6120, but that means getting into an arguably freakish height.

    Of course decades ago a jumbo fret was considered freakishly high too.

  13. #12

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    When I ordered my Borys guitars I bought Jescar 47104 EVO wires and sent them to Roger for installation. Roger had no problems with installing EVO and said they turned out well.

    If you do not mind the slightly golden hue of EVO I recommend EVO highly. I like EVO and am going to re-fret all my guitars with it. I might choose 47095 in the future as the 47104 fretwire looks wide on the fretboard. Too, I prefer a crown with a steeper rake, more dome and less mushroom cap. 47104 has many fans and it imparts a "modern" glitzy look to the guitar; the wide shiny frets just jump out at you and grab your eye.

    For a subtle look, 47095 EVO would be my choice for my other guitars. If you can look past the golden hue, EVO is a great fretwire. I am glad Mr. Paul Hostetter agrees
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 05-26-2019 at 03:17 AM.
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  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    [...] For a subtle look, 47095 EVO would be my choice for my other guitars. If you can look past the golden hue, EVO is a great fretwire. I am glad Mr. Paul Hostetter agrees
    One of the downsides to a moderate width but high crown fretwire is the faster wear on the tighter radius crown. Not a huge issue, but for heavy use it can result in noticeably faster wear.

    But with EVO this semi-issue goes away and the idea of a medium width - high crown wire has no downside in my opinion (assuming you like the feel).

    The difference between .110 inches and .095 inches in width sounds silly-small. But the visual effect and crown feel (at a given height) is very noticeable.

    I think the 47095 is .095 in width.

    Back on 18% “nickel-silver” wire...

    I love the look and feel of Stewmac 0155 (.080 width and .050 height). You can get a medium width look on an acoustic or vintage guitar, but still have the articulation and lower total left hand strain of a higher fret. But it does wear notably faster.

    You also lose more total height when leveling if you are not careful when leveling this .080 wire.

    Fun thread.

  15. #14

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    Hi JCM,

    Please do not forget to get back to us for a victory lap with the result of your decision and new frets.

  16. #15
    Thanks, all! Now I just have to find time to visit the luthier...