Hello All,

   I have an old strat neck that I am getting up the nerve to re-fret. I have done a few original fret jobs over the years, but re-fretting is not something I have much experience with. The neck is from the era at Fender where the frets were driven in sideways from the bass side rather than hammered/pressed in from the top.   

    My primary concerns are regarding tearout. The tangs being withdrawn vertically where the blunt end of the barb is against unsupported 'virgin" rosewood sound like a bigger challenge than withdrawal of a frets barbs coming out the way they went in, as in a standard top-down installation. On the other hand, knocking the frets out the way they went in (bass to treble) seems like an invitation to tearout on the treble edge of the fretboard. Additionally, tearout at the treble edge seems like a much more challenging repair than to CA chips down under the bead of the new frets to be installed, and fill where needed. 

    Does anyone have experience and/or advice on the practical pros and cons of these two methods of extraction, or any tips to share? Regards, Mark

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Personally, with a Rosewood finger board, I would pull them normally. Maple finger boards are another animal, as they have finish on them. Do you use a soldering iron to heat the frets when you pull them? It does help reduce tear out. I also use a wet cloth first, and wipe it over the frets. I am trying to let water get in the fret slots by doing this. Using a hot soldering iron, with the tip filed to nest on the fret, I take my time with the flush nippers. You want to generate steam from the woods natural oil and as mentioned, steam from the introduced water. Glue the chip outs as you go with CA, so you don't loose them. Any missing chips can be fixed with Rosewood dust and CA, flooded onto the dust packed into the flaws. Blends well enough.

Thanks Paul. I went ahead and pulled them out the top. That sideways insertion fretting method may have saved Fender a few minutes per guitar, but was no favor to those servicing the instruments down the road. Perhaps they thought when it was time to replace the frets, it was time for a new neck. Toss it, like a worn out Bic razor.

The lack of an exit channel (where previous barb would have been inserted in conventional fretting) also made it a bear to get these started. I did use a soldering iron to heat the frets, but needed to get a couple Xacto blades just under the tang do I could then get a purchase on the fret with my Hosco fret pullers. Once started, they came out fine with minimal tear out. Those small chips that did come out, I will just refer to as "Relicing". Value Added  :)

Hi Mark, thanks for coming back with your findings, it helps us all and is part of the sharing. Although I did not respond to your question I did think about it a fair bit, but not having had experience in this fretting method I held back from commenting. If I had I would have agreed with Paul's suggestion. My notes were nearly word-for-word what Paul wrote.

Cheers Taff

Thanks Taffy. Yes, those were quite a bear to get out, but I managed to do so without relic-ing the stuffing out of it. The old frets had been re-dressed at least once (poorly), but I'm pretty sure it was the original fret wire.

 Another interesting thing I noticed is after pulling the frets was there was a noticeably disfigured fret slot on the bass side of each fret (where the fret wire entered on initial installation). My theory is that the fret barbs were literally like saw teeth, gnawing away at the fretboard with the bass side taking the brunt of the insult on insertion. One might wonder if the ravaged fret slot might make for inadequate purchase for the new tang barbs. A bit of Titebond with the new frets was probably not a bad idea, especially in a case such as this. Just a theory.


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