1952 Tele Refret

Rich's '52 Tele, slightly in pieces. It appears as if the both the body and neck were refinished, and at least one refret was accomplished. Those old frets averaged .080" x .020" - definitely time for a refret!

A closer look at the neck sans frets, ready to be refretted. It was important to Rich that the neck finish not be disturbed, and I carefully - and painstakingly! - removed them with zero chipping to the fingerboard past the fret crown ... a huge and somewhat lucky feat in itself. Then each fret slot top was filed smooth with a fret dressing file, and carefully leveled with a 600 grit diamond fret level, to just kiss the slot tops. I also pulled the nut in prepartion for a new one, as the slots were progressively filed lower to accomodate the significant fret wear.

Rich elected to go with larger frets, and here's four .095" x .045" frets already installed with an arbor press.

I like to use aliphatic resin glue (Titebond II) as a lube and fret barb "dam" - here's my method of getting the glue into the narrow .020" wide fret slots without smearing it all over the fingerboard and making a mess and more work ... I run a .009 guitar string through a blob of the glue ...

... then run the gooped up string through the fret slot ...

... this gets the glue into the fret slot and not on the fingerboard!

A pre-radiused fret is laid onto the pre-glued fret slot, and tapped in at the ends only - the fretwire radius is smaller than the fretboard radius, so that after tapping in there's a space between the bottom of the fret crown/tang and the top of the fretboard; you can kinda see that in the photo.

The neck is moved to the arbor press and the fret is lined up with the press caul ...

... and pressed down into the fret slot - this also pushed out the ends of the fret, which further seats the fret tang barbs a bit sideways into the fret slot, for a more secure grip.

The neck is removed from the arbor press and the fret ends are tapped down.

Frets in, glue curing overnight!

Fret ends have been nipped, filed flush with the neck and dressed, leveled and crowned, polished with 600 to 12000 MicroMesh. New vintage unbleached cow bone nut cut for 10-46 strings, action set and intonated ... ready to twang on!