Hi all, Merry Christmas!

Regarding the mandolin I was posting about I just used a fret position calculator for a 22 fret Gibson to find the fret positions for the new fingerboard extender piece I am putting on my Kentucky KM650 an I discovered that the existing fret positions are quite 'out'!! the first fret is about 0.5mm out and it gets worse from there... to the last existing fret is about 4mm to long (0.158 " for you imperials!). What should I do? Do different manufacturers use different positions? I was planning to use the break point, where I was pretty sure a fret was positioned, to place another fret, but the calc says that fret should be placed 4MM further up... Help!!


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I should say those measurements were taken from the nut, but if I take the fret to fret measurement then it is pretty close, for the last couple of existing frets. I will probable just go fret to fret for the new piece and live with the error.

Are you sure that Kentucky uses the same scale length as a 22 fret Gibson?  


Measure, as exactly as you can, the distance between the fingerboard side of the nut and the top of the 12th fret. Then use a fret calculator, StewMac has one on their site, and select a mandolin fretboard, set the scale length for twice that measurement and 22 frets. It will give you nut to fret and fret to fret measurements. See if the resulting measurements match the first 12 frets on your mandolin. If they do, you have your measurements for the remainder of the frets. 



Thank You!! I will give that a go...
Well that is pretty darn close now!, it is still out with a few frets but as I said I think I can live with the error, I am not a player so I doubt I will hear any wrong notes if a fret is out a fraction, thanks for the assist Ned !!
No one else has asked so I will. Why are you not just replacing the fretboard? There are several companies selling fretted boards, and bending a piece of binding, and glueing it onto the board is easy once you know how to do it. Glueing the board down also is not hard. Why not give it a try?

Good question! As I understand it a replacement fretboard is a  piece that is glued onto the actual body of the neck. As you may see from the pix I posted, the fretboard extender (not part of the neck as such, but part of the body) was broken off and missing so I have to replace that before I can do anything else. I could take off all the existing binding and frets and then I guess lever off the fret board, replace the extender part, after shaping it to fit, and glue a fretboard down the whole length. Seemed like more work to me!! Please bear in mind that this is my first attempt at anything like this!!! I have now finished shaping the new piece to fit, will stain the top to match the fretboard, the sides to match the neck, place frets where needed, including one right at the new join, and everything should be AOK (Hopefully)!!

Actually, Leon, Kerry is making a good point about the fretboard. It's going to be a LOT easier to get the fret board and the extension level if you replace it in one piece. It's more work in the short run but should give you a much more level fingerboard in the future.  I know the neck extension is a separate piece but a single piece fretboard bridges the break between the neck and extension adding strength to the joint and limiting a potential problem as the neck moves over time.


Kentucky mandolins are not usually $10.00 instruments here. That model sells in the high hundreds of dollars U.S so it should be worth the extra effort and could make you a very good long term instrument as you learn to play.



Bugger, now I have more to think about!!!!! You're right, I didn't think of it in those terms Kerry and Ned. I was told that only the good players get up to those parts of the fretboard, so I thought that a fix as I imagined would be fine; and I should say that the new piece I have shaped is really quite good in terms of shape and 'levelness'. But you are right that buying a new fretboard would eliminate the problems I asked about at the start of this thread.

Are all fretboards the same then in terms of width, the angle they spread out as they go to the body, and their shape at the final part of the extender, or do they require shaping to fit? The only one I have seen are on and I think they are for Gibson F-somethings. Is it hard to lever off the old ones? And finally, do I need specialised tools to re-fret; it may be a pricey instrument (in good condition, but to me it still is something I paid $5 for) and I dont fancy spending lots of dollars and waiting for internet vendors to send me the bits I need.

Sorry for the 20 questions!!! Merry Christmas

Leon, this may now be getting out of the realm of home fixable. Like I said, you CAN buy fretboards that are already fretted, maybe these days, you could also buy one that had binding on and side position dots too. Generally, once the fretboard is totally off the instrument, the wood surface of the neck has to be cleaned/sanded flat (with the fretboard extender already glued of course), Then the fretboard glued on, and the bottom of the binding were the plastic meets the wood has to be scraped, so there is no edge, then the neck wood has to be retouched/finished. Every one of these last points has a bit of a learning curve, and I know that if I were in your position of never having done any repair work before, I  would certainly not be able do a job that will result in a playable/useable axe afterward. If I remember my own learning curve, it was, I think, the 4th fretboard that I glued on that yielded  an acceptable result. If you decide to go through all this, I'm sure that we can talk you through each individual step. This  kind of adult supervision sure would have made a difference back when I started doing all this.

Adult supervision would be great! To think that this was a quick job to keep me occupied thru the holidays! Well, I have taken advice from the masters and taken off the existing binding and fretboard, I am now sanding back the top of the mando, because the proper colour is underneath the green discolouration, so that should laquer up nicely. Now I just need to get the new piece level with the existing fretboard base and things should work out. I haven't ordered the new pieces yet, does anyone recommend any particular supplier? I think I have most of the necessary tools to do the job, even with the re-fretting.... Kerry you mentioned that attempts 1-3 were unplayable/unusable - what made them so, if I may ask?

Thanks again for taking the time to assist a newbie.....!

It was a long time ago, and I did'nt say they were unplayable, I said they were unacceptable. The fretboard was misaligned on two, and third one there was a serious binding issue, and along with that was the scraping binding/wood interface with it. Lots of lacquer missing on the sides that had to be fixed. They were all my own learner axes, so it did not matter either. How did you get the fretboard off? You heated it right?

Roger Siminoff seems to have the parts dept down for Gibsons.You could veer away from the extension and strengthen under the fretboard letting it float.My thought is that would free the top

to sing more! And weigh less..Also if someone had to go back in there.??..that whole design is too many bells &

whistles IMO.FolkLoar... LOL They do have their own sound.Am I getting OT yet?


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