Replace or file the frets?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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freestroke
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Replace or file the frets?

Post by freestroke » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:43 pm

The luthier already has my '74 Masaru Kohno (bought it new! 8^) and is doing a few things to fix it up, so it may be too late to change course here, but I'd like to know if I made the right choice. He offered me an alternative on the fret repair -- file them down or replace them, one being $200 the other $400. (Please, no snide remarks about how I'm getting gouged. okay? This isn't a question about getting my money's worth...I went to the best luthier I could find for this and he costs.)

Anyhow, he asked me what I wanted to do about the frets. I asked him what most guitarists would do in a similar situation, since I didn't really know, and he said they would have them filed level. He then told me, "It will change the way it feels." I somehow twisted this in my mind at the time to think that it would be like a lower action, which is clearly befuddled and insane, and now that I've realized it isn't like that at all, I'm worried. I'm thinking I'll run into the fretboard before I get the string fretted, that I won't have as much vibrato -- just all kinds of paranoid thoughts.

The nice thing is he said I've taken great care of it over the years! "It's in awsome shape for a guitar this old." He said he wouldn't be surprised if it would sell for $6000, so I feel little silly trying to get off cheap on a repair, but if it doesn't matter...I am by no means rich.
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

Derry

Post by Derry » Sun Nov 05, 2006 2:54 pm

had one of my CGs refretted in lieu of just filing as I wanted it to be as close to original,, Augustino LoPrinz did it in Clearwater Florida,, super work,, of course it was done in the late 1980s and was $85 back then,, have no idea what he would be charging these days,,

if you select to have them filed I would want to know how much material would need to be removed for total leveling and would all frets be the "exact" same height,,?????

my vote would go for the all new,,

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:00 pm

Generally, I think you should be able to dress and polish the frets 2 or 3 times before you have to replace them.

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freestroke
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Post by freestroke » Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:30 pm

Well, it seems like Derry has my current thinking on this, and Sasquatch51 what I think the luthier was thinking. This has never been done on this guitar, but then, how bad WERE the frets? That's part of my problem. I don't have anything to compare with, no experience really. I've owned this guitar for so long, without playing or even seeing any other guitars, that I have no feel for what's good, bad or indifferent.

Let's say you could file them down 3 times, but at what intervals? What if my grooves were so deep that it will require the equivalent of a 4th filing to get them level again? See what I mean?

This is just impossible. I could see Hybrid completely destroying the frets on his guitar in two weeks, compared with the way I play. (I figure he plays about 7000 notes for every one of mine, given the same amount of practice time. :lol: ) I played this guitar, oh, let's say, the equivalent of 3 hours per day for 10 years, at an average of Level V technique. How much fret damage is that? Once again, a new variable creeps in...how hard do I mash on the fretboard?

I'm descending into despair -- the luthier hasn't responded to my email yet. Hopefully, he's out snowmobiling or something.

No -- mood shift -- he's a good luthier. He wouldn't give me back an unplaybale guitar, right? I mean -- it might feel a little different, but will I really be able to tell? Maybe it will feel better!

:D

Sigh. I'll let you know how this turns out shortly.
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

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freestroke
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Post by freestroke » Mon Nov 06, 2006 3:32 pm

Okay, talked with the luthier. Going with new frets! :D

We talked about it for a bit, and he finally comes out with, "I play mandolin, but I never have time to work on my own instrument, so the frets are almost even with the fretboard now. I just hate it." Convinced me! :lol:

That combined with, "With new frets, it'll feel just like a brand new guitar."

Done and done!
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

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freestroke
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Post by freestroke » Wed Nov 15, 2006 11:58 pm

And Kohnosan is home again! FANTASTIC!

Let me be frank about this -- since I started playing again, I've really been disappointed in this guitar. Ya know, I remembered it sounding, well, different, and louder and sweeter, and you name it. The bass notes were better, but not substantially better, than the piece of dung Yamaha student guitar I play to work on crap stuff, like reach development exercises and sight reading -- things where the tone quality really doesn't matter that much, or slurs, or repeating some diabolitically contrived bar in some piece or another, until people begin to run in off the street to tell me to please stop. That sort of thing. Kohnosan was better, but ENOUGH better, ya know? This is supposed to be a big time guitar. It should sound better. It made me sad. I thought I was just going deaf.

But then, I sent Kohnosan for a facelift. New frets. The luthier found the real problem -- my saddle had worn loose! It was dissolving and damping out all that nice stuff! I cannot believe the difference. I have a real concert guitar now! It sounds like what I remembered, and maybe even better than that. It's phenomenal. I am euphoric.

I will reserve my praise for Nate Smith for another thread.

All praise be to luthiers. I am ecstatic.
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

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