Can someone shed historic light on the way Fender installed frets?

Hello all, this is my first post.

I learned a few years ago that Fender used to install their frets sideways.

What I'd like to know is: when did they start this way of installing frets, and in what timespan did this occur?

Thank you for your time.

Views: 1167

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Frode:

From the beginning of Fender through the early 80's they installed them sideways.

Hello :) 

Thank you so much for that.

Wow, I didn't know that they did it like that from the very start.

Yes, this method is of interest to me! Is there a tutorial or video of this 'sideways installation' available anywhere? Are there no tangs on the fretwire? Obviously not, or they would 'dig a trench' while traveling through the fret slot.

Just curious of the method? Machine done perhaps?



I remember seeing a picture of the Fender sideways-fretting machine in one of Dan Erlewine's "Trade Secrets" books.   It was a foot-operated machine that used a large (maybe 3"X 5") curved platen that (if memory serves) installed the frets from the bass side toward the treble side, away from the operator.  

The platen looked fairly heavy and was steadied by a cable of some sort, but the operator was in control of the actual inserting by using a levered foot pedal with pulleys.

The individual frets were sharpened on one end...  the end, obviously, that went in first.  If I find that picture, I'll post it. 

Thanks all.

Surely, they must have made fretslots in the necks before they drove the frets in...?

Yes... the necks were pre-slotted with a gang-saw, then handed over to the "slider-guy":)

Mike, you're right that's where you saw it. It's in "Trade Secrets, Book One". in the Volume 14 section. This book doesn't have page numbers so the index refers to the volume number of the original Trade Secrets newsletter. They are published in order in the book.

I don't have any way to scan the picture there or I'd post it but there are usually some available on Ebay and I'm fairly sure that StewMac's site still has them. 

The frets indeed had tangs and barbs. If you ever de-fret one, the easy way is to simply drive them out the treble side with a sharp blow from a mallet and chisel. It helps to cut a small groove on the bass side of the fret that the chisel can purchase before driving the fret out. It leaves a beautifully clean slot with no chipping of the fingerboard (provided you score the finish on a maple board; this is not necessary on rosewood).

Thanks! Barbs was the word that I was looking for in my earlier post. Obviously, they would have tangs.

Great info!

Just did a refret on this 67 tele, here is a photo of the fret going out the side and showing clean slots since no barbs went down the slot as with top installation

Nice job Phipps and cool guitar!

FWIW, I use a scratch awl which works great.

Nice! That looks so clean! Did you have to scribe or cut through the lacquer/poly between the fret and the board? Or heat the fret prior to removal? Or did you just tap it sideways? It just looks so tidy...


© 2023   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service