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Thread: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

  1. #41
    Mojo's Minions ICTGoober's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Yes, they did. Levelling the frets leave a burr that MUST be removed during crowning.

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    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    Yes, they did. Levelling the frets leave a burr that MUST be removed during crowning.
    No, they did not. Fretless wonder frets are flat topped, not crowned. As I said before, they rounded over the sharp edges. But they left the fretting surface totally flat.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
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    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Is this the plekd guitar ?

    The plek machine doesn't crown the frets very well

    I think it's called school bus
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  4. #44
    Ultimate Tone Slacker TMD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by ehdwuld View Post
    Is this the plekd guitar ?

    The plek machine doesn't crown the frets very well

    I think it's called school bus
    Yes.

  5. #45
    Mojo's Minions ICTGoober's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    As I said before, they rounded over the sharp edges.
    JESUS! I just said that!

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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by TMD View Post
    How's the bending?
    Well, my epic strong man hands have no problems...

  7. #47
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    You need to polish the top of those frets
    It's that school bus top that's messing with ya
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by ehdwuld View Post
    You need to polish the top of those frets
    It's that school bus top that's messing with ya
    I’ve never done extensive fret work like this before, and while it may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s well outside my comfort zone. I will probably take it somewhere, once “somewhere” types of businesses are open again.

  9. #49
    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    What were the selling points of these kinds of frets? Did Gibson market them as guitars that were easy to play, since you didn't have to press so hard? The top of the frets look super flat, too.
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    Mojo's Minions Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    What were the selling points of these kinds of frets? Did Gibson market them as guitars that were easy to play, since you didn't have to press so hard? The top of the frets look super flat, too.
    Those were the days of wound G strings and heavy flatwound strings. Not much string bending going on.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 05-24-2020 at 08:09 PM.
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  11. #51
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    JESUS! I just said that!
    Er...no. ​I said it, last page in the thread. You argued with that, saying that frets "must" be crowned to remove the sharp corners after leveling. This is not true. You can soften the edges without crowing the fret. I responded by saying again that Gibson removed the sharp corners without crowning the top surface of the fretless wonder frets.

    Crowning creates an arched top across the fret. Fretless wonder frets are largely defined by the fact that there is no arch across the top. They are not crowned. And FWIW, they are also not .080", as you stated earlier in the thread. I have measured them from .067" to .070" myself.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  12. #52
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by TMD View Post
    I’ve never done extensive fret work like this before, and while it may not seem like a big deal to some, it’s well outside my comfort zone. I will probably take it somewhere, once “somewhere” types of businesses are open again.
    It is literally
    Take the strings off
    Rub the top with anything but steel wool
    And put the strings back on
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    I didn't mean you, I mean the people complaining that they are too low.

    I don't know what size Gibson started with decades ago, but when clients ask me for fretless wonder jobs, I have to grind down the fret to the proper size. I have tried using mandolin wire so it's easier to do (narrow wire cuts easier than wide), but the lowest fret wire I've found is .037 tall - still too tall to qualify as fretless wonder frets.

    I had a '59 Junior with those fretless wonder frets, and in the 80's I bought a Custom with fretless wonder style frets. They were both used, and I didn't know their complete history, so I've no idea if the frets on the guitar started low, or ended up low through the years. I took my measurements from an actual fretless wonder Custom a Nashville studio cat owns.
    If you had a '59 Junior with those frets maybe my '62 Special came that way? I always thought someone had sanded or filed them down that low. Mine were even lower than in the photo above. It felt like playing a fretless fingerboard except the frets were just high enough to intonate the notes. Bending was a breeze.
    Geeze, now I miss that guitar!

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Locher View Post
    If you had a '59 Junior with those frets maybe my '62 Special came that way? I always thought someone had sanded or filed them down that low. Mine were even lower than in the photo above. It felt like playing a fretless fingerboard except the frets were just high enough to intonate the notes. Bending was a breeze.
    Geeze, now I miss that guitar!
    The dead giveaway of original fretless wonder frets, vs. other frets that have been lowered, is the width. Any frets can be made super low with a certain kind of leveling, but only original fretless wonder frets are super skinny. They are very narrow, even by vintage Fender standards. Vintage Fender frets were about .078" to .080" wide. Like I mentioned above, I have measured myself anywhere from .067" to .070" off of original fretless wonder frets. I didn't mention that the fret heights on the same guitars were from about .015" to .020" – the lower ones must have been re-leveled at some point. The .020" ones were almost like new.

    The exact wire is, to the best of my research about 15 or 16 years ago, no longer made. "Mandolin wire" is too narrow and guitar wire is too wide. The wires that are close (I mentioned them earlier in the thread) are not quite right, but they are your best bet. One is .075" by .030", and can be filed down to the proper width pretty quickly if you make a good jig. The other is .063" by .028". Too narrow. Better to start with the oversized wire and narrow it IMO. It will also allow you to straighten the sides more, which is truer to the original fret wire, which came off the roll already very close to flat-topped, with rather vertical sides. I believe, IIRC my research from quite some time ago, that the original wire started at somewhere around .025" crown height off the roll (i.e. before leveling). That means they were probably leveled down to about .020" to start. It was a by-hand process, so there was variation. But it'd be hard to take much less than .003" to .005" off of frets during an initial leveling after hammering them in.

    Here is some N.O.S. fretless wonder wire. See how the classic fretless wonder shape was built in to the wire itself by design. It wasn't achieved by taking down taller frets. Notice how low and flat the tops are, and how close to (if not exactly) vertical the sides are.

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    And a few more shots of them both in guitars and N.O.S.

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    They're definitely a very bizarre type of fret...but very cool IMO.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  15. #55
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    I can't stand them being so low. I accidentally leveled a guitar too low (frets were 0.039'' tall) and I hated it so badly that I opted to regret the guitar. Now, they're a healthy 0.05" again. Thanks, much obliged.

  16. #56
    Ultimate Tone Slacker TMD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by orpheo View Post
    ...I opted to regret the guitar.
    Typo?

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Quote Originally Posted by TMD View Post
    Typo?
    Yes, but a happy little typo I regret building that guitar, so I refretted the guitar hahaha. My auto-correct on this computer is very stubborn.

  18. #58
    Ultimate Tone Slacker TMD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Does any of this look like anything?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by TMD; 05-25-2020 at 10:34 AM.

  19. #59
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    school bus top frets
    my Gibson came that way

    like I said
    just polish the top of the fret
    do one in the middle
    so you don't have to take the strings off

    see if that helps

    if so
    then do the rest

    just not with steel wool
    the villagers will be at the door
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  20. #60
    Ultimate Tone Slacker TMD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fretless wonders and other low-fret options

    Can you tell what's going on in the pics?

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