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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 9:35 am 
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Walnut
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Hi all,

I recently had two guitars re-fretted, an acoustic and an electric. Both at the same time by the same person.

I have the same problem on both: Fret buzz around 7th to 10th frets on low AND high E string. The rest of the strings play perfectly.

As far as I can tell, everything has been set up correctly, neck relief is in the right zone, nut has been shimmed to correct height, intonation is right.

I've been scratching my head trying to think why this is a problem. My only plausible idea is that somehow the radius of the frets is wrong, although I find it unthinkable that anyone with a degree of experience would level/finish the frets to an incorrect radius.

Any ideas why this is happening and/or what I might be able to do about it? (other than sending them back to the person who did the work, which is something I'm strongly considering).

PS. should mention what guitars they are: 1978 Gibson SG & 1990 Ovation Legend 1767


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 1:22 pm 
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Koa
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First name: peter
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Country: usa
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My opinion from a distance:

A dead-easy start: Get out the capo and test for string height at the nut. Refretting without testing for this is a dereliction of common sense. After that, use the fret rocker everybody's got in their tool drawers and do a rough survey of fret condition, i.e., how well were the frets leveled after installation. Then back to the person who did the fretting to have a conversation.

Im assuming a face-to-face conversation. If that's not possible, then the plot thickens. OP gives no information about their location.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 1:35 pm 
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Frets are not level.


Steve

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 2:06 pm 
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Walnut
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phavriluk wrote:
My opinion from a distance:

A dead-easy start: Get out the capo and test for string height at the nut. Refretting without testing for this is a dereliction of common sense. After that, use the fret rocker everybody's got in their tool drawers and do a rough survey of fret condition, i.e., how well were the frets leveled after installation. Then back to the person who did the fretting to have a conversation.

Im assuming a face-to-face conversation. If that's not possible, then the plot thickens. OP gives no information about their location.


Not sure if I have the right idea, but with capo on 3rd fret, the gap on the low E at the first fret is .010, whereas it's just a smidge under .008 on the high E -- same on both guitars

OK so I DONT have a fret rocker -- can't really confidently test with random bits of 'apparently' straight metal since I can't be sure how accurately they were machined! I really should get one.

I'm not very close by to the person who did the work, so am communicating via email. I made the 300 mile round-trip twice to drop the guitars off and pick them up, but at this stage it looks like I'll be using a courier if I end up sending them back for correction.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 2:11 pm 
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Walnut
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SteveSmith wrote:
Frets are not level.


Steve



This was my concern... I find it surprising since I specifically chose the person to do the work on the basis of many years of experience and a good reputation! In fact, I had to wait 3 months to get an appointment laughing6-hehe


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 2:56 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Get an 18" long machinists straight edge and set it on edge on the neck to get an accurate picture of the height of the frets. You can pickup "factory seconds" straight edges on eBay for pretty cheap (I like a seller called Taylor Toolworks). This will tell you the full picture of the neck including relief, fall-away, and any high frets. This is the first tool I use when evaluating a guitar.



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 4:36 pm 
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Over 45 years at the bench. I don't have a Fret Rocker, and don't need it.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 7:19 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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I finally figured out that a small 4" straight edge that I inherited from my gran gran would work as a fret rocker. I do see some benefit when installing frets. A quick check will indicate if a fret isn't quite set. But it is not a necessary tool, for sure.



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 10:02 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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A skilled Luthier will be able to tell you what the issue is in less than a minute but they, we have to see it. It could be a plethora of things but all of these things are one by one eliminated when we can have a look. Here is what I do when I deal with these:

1) Site the neck on two sides, treble and bass side. I want to make sure there is relief and hopefully less relief on the treble side and more on the bass side. The more on the bass side thing is not a deal killer but it's desirable for a number of reasons. A good fret dress should have resulted in the relief differential.

2) Then I fret around the 14th and the 2nd and pulse the string in between to verify that what I think I saw, relief caused a "tink" sound and that the string is not laying on the frets when I hold in the two positions. So with relief verified....

3) Check for any ski ramp at the end of the fret board. Not an issue for you but I check anyway because this can cause the action to be too high, higher than necessary.

4) As Barry said the fret rocker is a good quick check tool but it's not anywhere close to being considered any standard that should ever be used for good fret dressing technique. Our strings see the fret plane as a whole and so should we..... Isolating three frets may show a high fret but it won't show you that two of the frets are perhaps low.....

5). I play every note after fret work and make sure there is no sizzle or rattle so I would check as you have and then verified the issue.

6). I measure the action at the 12th the high e should not be lower than around 4/64th" and the low e no lower than 5.5/64th" for the Ovation and 4.3ish/64th" for the SG. Action for these is possible lower but you need great fret work to get there these specs are to be expected as possible from a quality fret job for these guitars.

If after all of this notes still fret out and all of the above is good the fret dress did not result in a precision fret plane and the entire job should be done over. Again quality fret work never addresses only several or so frets in isolation. It's like truing a bicycle wheels to do great fret work loosening spokes on one side must be compensated for on the other side or soon we are riding an egg shaped wheel... Fret work is kind of like this too there are sequential dependencies and fret work is perhaps the single area in Lutherie where technique or lack of same will result on poor results every time. It's also one of the most important things because it's the direct user interface to the instrument.

I trust you took it to a professional Luthier and I'm not asking who. Lastly and most importantly there is a possibility since both guitars did it that the same methods used on both is the problem. There is also a possibility that the environment that both guitars were in at some point though all of this is also the problem. Dramatic differences in relative humidity for the owner's, you location and the shop location and even the seasons or the RH the day of the work may have had an impact. Speculating here but all of this is speculation from all of us since we can't see it.

But regardless it's wrong and needs to be fixed. If by chance your action is lower than what I quoted your expectations are incorrect for how low the action can go on fret work from this provider and it's a mismatch for your picking hand technique. Your expectations may not be incorrect for quality work I just have to check all the boxes here no offense intended.

FYI the way we are "informed" as to the condition of our fret planes it to set the rod for a straight neck and mark every fret with bluing like a machinist might (magic marker) and then use a precision beam with 220 sand paper on it. The beams are leveled and checked to be accurate to .0005" at least in our shop. One beam should span the first through the 12th and the other beam from the 12th to the last. We hit the fret tops lightly (sanding/scuffing with the beams) and where the marker remains and where it disappears tells us who is low and high. Repeating this including remarking a few times and in time your fret plane is perfectly level. From there a skilled Luthier will impart proper amounts of relief on both sides making them different and correcting that too.

It's an art and good results only result from great technique and skilled providers.

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Last edited by Hesh on Wed Aug 23, 2023 3:37 am, edited 1 time in total.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 11:00 pm 
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Koa
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Out of curiosity, when you drove to pick the guitars up, did you test them in the shop? If so, was the issue apparent then or did it develop later once home with the instruments?

I agree with Hesh to check that relief and action is within spec, if the setup specs have moved since it left the luthier’s shop there could be an explanation there and a reason why the luthier was comfortable for the work to leave his shop even though now down the road it is buzzy.

An issue with the work is totally possible also but no one can tell you if this is the case over the internet and I hope we can all give the person who did the work the benefit of the doubt considering we are not in possession of the facts and cannot measure the instrument.

This must be frustrating and I hope it is resolved for you, and quickly. Best of luck.



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 3:46 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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joshnothing wrote:
Out of curiosity, when you drove to pick the guitars up, did you test them in the shop? If so, was the issue apparent then or did it develop later once home with the instruments?

I agree with Hesh to check that relief and action is within spec, if the setup specs have moved since it left the luthier’s shop there could be an explanation there and a reason why the luthier was comfortable for the work to leave his shop even though now down the road it is buzzy.

An issue with the work is totally possible also but no one can tell you if this is the case over the internet and I hope we can all give the person who did the work the benefit of the doubt considering we are not in possession of the facts and cannot measure the instrument.

This must be frustrating and I hope it is resolved for you, and quickly. Best of luck.


Josh buddy I agree with all of your points. I thought too that set-ups specs may have changed likely for RH reasons and I wonder how long ago the work was completed and if this is a new issue or immediately noticed upon delivery of the guitar.

There is lousy work out here and in my experience much of the fret work we see from other shops..... is not ready for prime time. We may not agree on how much slack to cut the Luthier though if indeed it is a skill and technique problem. Both guitars are messed up that's strike two in my book. So maybe one more chance and maybe only with the guitar I value the least......

Lastly I thought of one more question to ask the OP: Where is your location generally speaking (I'm interested in climate) and what is the relative humidity where the guitars are kept and how do you know what you use to measure same is accurate. What you are describing is when back bow sets in from a guitar that is drying out. In time the fret ends will start to stick out so much that you can feel this running your fingers along the ends.

And one more thought just now... :) Actually the fact that they are both doing the same thing is an indicator that the work was consistent and maybe even good and something else could be the problem or that the work was consistently bad. I'm interested in RH now too that needs to be eliminated.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 3:54 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Wanted to offer up one more thing for others here as food for thought and something that may up your game.

As Barry suggested a straight edge to reveal the condition of the fret plane. Your strings tuned to pitch are a natural straight edge that over their span gravity means little because of the tension. When we fret and hold between any two places with say the high e we just made a straight edge with the string.

We fret in various places closer to the body and maybe around the 2nd or 3rd and hold and then pulse the speaking length of the string near the middle and want to hear a "tink" sound indicating that the string is not laying on the fret and the instrument has no relief and/or is in back bow.

It's very handy to use the strings as straight edges and always available on a triage bench without having to go get anything.

But ultimately for me the accuracy that we work to can't be done any other way manually that we know of without bluing and machinist methods. Chris will be happy to hear me saying this :)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 5:47 am 
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Sorry for the short reply, I was in a hurry and meant to come back to this one. I think the board isn’t level because it’s 7 & 10. I suspect the luthier used a too-short leveling beam/file or whatever. Raising the action might make it playable but better to get it fixed right.

I’ve had a surprising number of guitars come to my shop because the frets were supposedly leveled by someone else but frets were buzzing somewhere, usually around 10 or so. Almost always the frets just need to be leveled properly, some are just off a little bit and some are terrible. In a few cases loose frets have been the cause and that’s the only thing I use the fret rocker for - I use the end of it to tap on the frets to see if they are properly seated- tink vs thunk, ha.

Anyway, looks like Barry, Josh and Hesh have done a good job addressing the issue. Good luck with it.


Steve

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These users thanked the author SteveSmith for the post (total 2): Hesh (Wed Aug 23, 2023 8:46 am) • audiobabble (Wed Aug 23, 2023 6:41 am)
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 6:12 am 
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What caught my attention is one guitar is an electric the other is acoustic and they have the same problem.
Would a RH change effect both guitars the same?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 6:36 am 
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Walnut
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Hesh wrote:
A skilled Luthier will be able to tell you what the issue is in less than a minute but they, we have to see it. It could be a plethora of things but all of these things are one by one eliminated when we can have a look. Here is what I do when I deal with these:

1) Site the neck on two sides, treble and bass side. I want to make sure there is relief and hopefully less relief on the treble side and more on the bass side. The more on the bass side thing is not a deal killer but it's desirable for a number of reasons. A good fret dress should have resulted in the relief differential.

2) Then I fret around the 14th and the 2nd and pulse the string in between to verify that what I think I saw, relief caused a "tink" sound and that the string is not laying on the frets when I hold in the two positions. So with relief verified....

3) Check for any ski ramp at the end of the fret board. Not an issue for you but I check anyway because this can cause the action to be too high, higher than necessary.

4) As Barry said the fret rocker is a good quick check tool but it's not anywhere close to being considered any standard that should ever be used for good fret dressing technique. Our strings see the fret plane as a whole and so should we..... Isolating three frets may show a high fret but it won't show you that two of the frets are perhaps low.....

5). I play every note after fret work and make sure there is no sizzle or rattle so I would check as you have and then verified the issue.

6). I measure the action at the 12th the high e should not be lower than around 4/64th" and the low e no lower than 5.5/64th" for the Ovation and 4.3ish/64th" for the SG. Action for these is possible lower but you need great fret work to get there these specs are to be expected as possible from a quality fret job for these guitars.

If after all of this notes still fret out and all of the above is good the fret dress did not result in a precision fret plane and the entire job should be done over. Again quality fret work never addresses only several or so frets in isolation. It's like truing a bicycle wheels to do great fret work loosening spokes on one side must be compensated for on the other side or soon we are riding an egg shaped wheel... Fret work is kind of like this too there are sequential dependencies and fret work is perhaps the single area in Lutherie where technique or lack of same will result on poor results every time. It's also one of the most important things because it's the direct user interface to the instrument.

I trust you took it to a professional Luthier and I'm not asking who. Lastly and most importantly there is a possibility since both guitars did it that the same methods used on both is the problem. There is also a possibility that the environment that both guitars were in at some point though all of this is also the problem. Dramatic differences in relative humidity for the owner's, you location and the shop location and even the seasons or the RH the day of the work may have had an impact. Speculating here but all of this is speculation from all of us since we can't see it.

But regardless it's wrong and needs to be fixed. If by chance your action is lower than what I quoted your expectations are incorrect for how low the action can go on fret work from this provider and it's a mismatch for your picking hand technique. Your expectations may not be incorrect for quality work I just have to check all the boxes here no offense intended.

FYI the way we are "informed" as to the condition of our fret planes it to set the rod for a straight neck and mark every fret with bluing like a machinist might (magic marker) and then use a precision beam with 220 sand paper on it. The beams are leveled and checked to be accurate to .0005" at least in our shop. One beam should span the first through the 12th and the other beam from the 12th to the last. We hit the fret tops lightly (sanding/scuffing with the beams) and where the marker remains and where it disappears tells us who is low and high. Repeating this including remarking a few times and in time your fret plane is perfectly level. From there a skilled Luthier will impart proper amounts of relief on both sides making them different and correcting that too.

It's an art and good results only result from great technique and skilled providers.


Thanks so much for a really in-depth answer!

- Action is pretty much spot on what you've said, maybe the SG is a little lower than 4/64 on the top E, so I might jack that side up a smidge and see if it helps... although in general I'm extremely happy with where the action is at on both guitars and would find it a bit of 'compromise' to have to go higher.

- If I capo the 1st or 2nd fret and fret around the 14th, I find that all strings resonate freely on both guitars, so the strings are not laying flat against the frets -- i.e. there is relief. And, like I said in my OP it seems to be in the right ballpark from what I've read online.

- yes, there is less relief on the treble side compared to the bass side on both guitars.

- I should probably say at this point- I'm in Ireland. So yes, Humidity is very relevant!! I'm on the west side, the work was carried out on the East side in what is statistically the 'driest' county, whereas I'm in one of the 'wettest' counties. Not that anywhere in Ireland is particularly 'dry'!
I'm well aware of RH levels, which in my location vary greatly but rarely get below 50% and are more likely to be 70%+. So it's entirely likely that the guitars have moved from a drier environment to a damper one.

I have tried adjusting the truss rod on the Gibson (slowly and carefully!), but found that it took an unacceptably extreme slackening to get rid of the buzz and I ended up with noticeably higher action around the middle of the fretboard which was not nice to play!

I can also say that these problems did not jump out at me while at the workshop to pick up the guitars. Admittedly the buzz on the electric is subtle, and I only played the acoustic fingerstyle at the time, whereas the problem only occurs with a pick.

All this is starting to make me wonder if my grave mistake was taking the guitars so far away to have the work done and that I should have had the work done by somebody in a similarly damp climate!

There's little doubt that the luthier in question is very experienced, they have a good reputation from asking around on forums and the like, have been established many years, have built custom guitars, written books on the subject even, etc. Hence why I went to them.

That said, there is one other detail that is (in my book anyway) pretty much inexcusable: I noticed that the 21st fret on the gibson is loose on the treble side! There is perceptible movement when press it with my thumbnail. All other frets are fine (obviously I've checked them all on both guitars after making that discovery). So... back to wondering if the luthier was having on off-day or maybe cutting corners due to pressure of work...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 6:46 am 
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SteveSmith wrote:
Sorry for the short reply, I was in a hurry and meant to come back to this one. I think the board isn’t level because it’s 7 & 10. I suspect the luthier used a too-short leveling beam/file or whatever. Raising the action might make it playable but better to get it fixed right.

I’ve had a surprising number of guitars come to my shop because the frets were supposedly leveled by someone else but frets were buzzing somewhere, usually around 10 or so. Almost always the frets just need to be leveled properly, some are just off a little bit and some are terrible. In a few cases loose frets have been the cause and that’s the only thing I use the fret rocker for - I use the end of it to tap on the frets to see if they are properly seated- tink vs thunk, ha.

Anyway, looks like Barry, Josh and Hesh have done a good job addressing the issue. Good luck with it.


Steve

Thanks for the info. In my other reply, I just mentioned that one of the frets on the Gibson is loose on the treble side... so I'd like to ask you: When you've done a re-fret, after all the frets are glued in and cured, would you then (as a matter of course) tap across every fret to make sure you get 'tinks' all the way along each fret? Just been doing a bit of tapping myself... if I tap each fret in the middle, there's no way I'd have noticed that one fret that is loose only at one side... what would be required would be to tap each fret bass AND treble side (and possibly in the middle too)

EDIT: I suppose there may not actually be any gluing involved in fret installation, although it would seem to be a good idea, especially on a refret of an older guitar that's already been refretted once in its lifetime (as in my case & something the luthier was aware of). I understand superglue is a popular choice? The luthier expressed distaste for superglue, albeit in reaction to my telling him I'd used it to glue down some frets that had come loose in the past, from the point of view of it being difficult to remove... so may or may not have used it himself. I always thought acetone was pretty effective at dissolving superglue? I digress...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 7:04 am 
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Dave Rickard wrote:
What caught my attention is one guitar is an electric the other is acoustic and they have the same problem.
Would a RH change effect both guitars the same?

Extreme temperature changes can cause a neck to move dramatically. I once had a guy pick up his Strat after a fret dress, play it in the shop for almost 20 minutes, we were both happy it was going out the door in good shape.

Two days later he calls up to tell me the guitar is buzzing badly. I asked him to bring it back in and when he arrived I found the neck to be badly back-bowed.

Turns out he’d left my shop and left the guitar in his car while he hit the beach for a surf, on a hot summer day. Then he left it in the car overnight and through another hot day for good measure. I’m not suggesting something that extreme has happened in this case, it’s just a possibility to consider.



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 7:07 am 
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joshnothing wrote:
Dave Rickard wrote:
What caught my attention is one guitar is an electric the other is acoustic and they have the same problem.
Would a RH change effect both guitars the same?

Extreme temperature changes can cause a neck to move dramatically. I once had a guy pick up his Strat after a fret dress, play it in the shop for almost 20 minutes, we were both happy it was going out the door in good shape.

Two days later he calls up to tell me the guitar is buzzing badly. I asked him to bring it back in and when he arrived I found the neck to be badly back-bowed.

Turns out he’d left my shop and left the guitar in his car while he hit the beach for a surf, on a hot summer day. Then he left it in the car overnight and through another hot day for good measure. I’m not suggesting something that extreme has happened in this case, it’s just a possibility to consider.


Hot summer day? I think I vaguely recall what one of those is like.... Ireland (& Britain) having one of the wettest summers in a long time currently!

On a more serious note, no -- nothing extreme has happened to the guitars, I look after my babies as well as I can!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 7:18 am 
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audiobabble wrote:
Thanks for the info. In my other reply, I just mentioned that one of the frets on the Gibson is loose on the treble side... so I'd like to ask you: When you've done a re-fret, after all the frets are glued in and cured, would you then (as a matter of course) tap across every fret to make sure you get 'tinks' all the way along each fret? Just been doing a bit of tapping myself... if I tap each fret in the middle, there's no way I'd have noticed that one fret that is loose only at one side... what would be required would be to tap each fret bass AND treble side (and possibly in the middle too)

EDIT: I suppose there may not actually be any gluing involved in fret installation, although it would seem to be a good idea, especially on a refret of an older guitar that's already been refretted once in its lifetime (as in my case & something the luthier was aware of). I understand superglue is a popular choice? The luthier expressed distaste for superglue, albeit in reaction to my telling him I'd used it to glue down some frets that had come loose in the past, from the point of view of it being difficult to remove... so may or may not have used it himself. I always thought acetone was pretty effective at dissolving superglue? I digress...


Many glue frets, many do not, some who do glue frets always use glue, some who glue frets may only glue them sometimes. The important thing is that the frets are well seated and level. It’s the destination here that is important and not the journey.

Have you spoken to the luthier about these issues? What did they say?



These users thanked the author joshnothing for the post: Hesh (Wed Aug 23, 2023 9:23 am)
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 7:26 am 
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joshnothing wrote:
audiobabble wrote:
Thanks for the info. In my other reply, I just mentioned that one of the frets on the Gibson is loose on the treble side... so I'd like to ask you: When you've done a re-fret, after all the frets are glued in and cured, would you then (as a matter of course) tap across every fret to make sure you get 'tinks' all the way along each fret? Just been doing a bit of tapping myself... if I tap each fret in the middle, there's no way I'd have noticed that one fret that is loose only at one side... what would be required would be to tap each fret bass AND treble side (and possibly in the middle too)

EDIT: I suppose there may not actually be any gluing involved in fret installation, although it would seem to be a good idea, especially on a refret of an older guitar that's already been refretted once in its lifetime (as in my case & something the luthier was aware of). I understand superglue is a popular choice? The luthier expressed distaste for superglue, albeit in reaction to my telling him I'd used it to glue down some frets that had come loose in the past, from the point of view of it being difficult to remove... so may or may not have used it himself. I always thought acetone was pretty effective at dissolving superglue? I digress...


Many glue frets, many do not, some who do glue frets always use glue, some who glue frets may only glue them sometimes. The important thing is that the frets are well seated and level. It’s the destination here that is important and not the journey.

Have you spoken to the luthier about these issues? What did they say?


currently awaiting an email reply....


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 8:47 am 
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Dave Rickard wrote:
What caught my attention is one guitar is an electric the other is acoustic and they have the same problem.
Would a RH change effect both guitars the same?


A neck doesn't know what kind of guitar it's on nor does it care, dang things..... ;) Either electric or acoustic go into back bow when severely dry.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 9:22 am 
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Ok good information thank you for providing it.

How you are checking relief is not how it's done we are looking for a very gentle forward bow curve between the nut and the 12th.

You said: "All this is starting to make me wonder if my grave mistake was taking the guitars so far away to have the work done and that I should have had the work done by somebody in a similarly damp climate!

There's little doubt that the luthier in question is very experienced, they have a good reputation from asking around on forums and the like, have been established many years, have built custom guitars, written books on the subject even, etc. Hence why I went to them."

Good to know and I suspect this may be some of all of your issue RH swings. Pro luthiers in the states know or should know that our shops have to be maintained close to 45% RH year around and there is an expectation that we will do what it takes regardless of the hoops to jump though to make this so. We want a stable RH so that when things go home necks don't move, bridges don't lift, tops don't crack and frets don't sprout.

Now my friend there is also an expectation with guitar owners that you will humidify and dehumidify as needed and as required. I guarantee my work which is not a common thing but I also have an expectation that the guitar's steward will also care for the instrument properly.

It's entirely possible for a guitar to live its entire long life and even have servicing in 70% or more RH. But the work for something requiring precision should be done at that level too. So where it was done is suspect for the climate.

Regarding a good reputation fretwork is a different animal and it doesn't get done well because someone knows how to make a pretty rosette. There are physics concerns, RH concerns, player technique concerns and more. Even string gages can dictate to some extent the need for high quality fret work. Lower mass strings have less inertia to overcome and they tend to lash out more making lower action more difficult. We have also taught fretwork with classes and on a private basis too. Without saying who we have had some very well known, established if not leaders in the field as our students and we were asked to keep it private and private it will stay. But it underscores that someone with 700 guitars to their name was smart enough and cared enough for their clients to be sure they knew how to provide the value associated with awesome fretwork. We have had multiple top shelf Luthiers as students in private classes. I see this as an excellent Doctor going back for refresher courses and that's always a good thing.

If you go back to the same provider one of you has to be prepared to match the RH at all times of the other.... and I don't see that happening. Are there other providers in your same geography that could be an option?

Regarding action if it buzzes or sizzles with a moderate attack with a pick it's too low. I can't and won't send an instrument home that will rattle from the frets if someone digs in with a pick and a moderate attack. I have a famous jazz guitarist with two D'Aquistos that were custom made for him (he played with Miles Davis back in the day) that likes action at half the level I indicated above. He has it and we could do it but his attack has to be his. If I played as I do it would rattle.

Anyway what is most interesting is that both guitars do the same thing so I think there is a mismatch in the RH of the work and the RH where you live. It's also possible to test this if you knew the RH where the work was done, duplicated it and waited a month for the guitars to settle in at that RH. There is wood memory too so a return to what it was right after the work was completed is not always possible

Another option is to find out the RH in the providers shop and if they observe strict RH control and then match it at your place in a room or with a case humidifier. I don't like this option because if my guitars are not out I won't grab one when I hear a song in my head and terrorize folks with my playing and singing..... ;)

Do you have a first name my friend I feel impolite not addressing you by your first name, I'm Hesh, got stuck with it they didn't let me vote? We have an excellent reputation with over 400 five star reviews and never any other review from anyone we actually did work for. Both of us are formally trained and my business partner taught Lutherie at the top Lutherie school in the world in my view. We service around 1,100 instruments a year and if you send us one we will refuse it and it may get damaged in shipping. We don't accept shipped in work so my interest here is helping you I just want to try to fill in some blanks for you that I do understand what I am speaking and live and breath this stuff ever day. We are as low last month turning away 70% of the work that comes our way for bandwidth reasons and wanting to have a life too.....

So in a perfect world find a luthier who knows their stuff in your climate. The loose fret is inexcusable and you should check for more as you have but use a 6" engineer's scale and tap each fret three places the ends and the middle. You will hear a difference in the resulting tone if one is loose and the loose one you have is a good standard to do first so you can say "ah, I hear what this guys is speaking of."

Good on you for on your own already checking, most people would have never thought of that so I'm impressed!

SGs of that vintage do have rubber necks at times that move with gravity and other things including massive movement with RH swings. A great provider will account for this with all things checked and even addressed in the playing position.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 9:34 am 
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Wanted to add a bit more for the folks here going to school on this thread.

When we have a fret dress to do and we do a lot of them, almost every day now here are some of our considerations:

1) We glue frets, all of them if even one is loose and every fret is checked in three places as I suggested above. It only takes maybe a minute to do and goes very fast and can be very revealing.

2) When we glue we just don't glue we also clamp them down with a radius caul slightly over radiused to the fret radius to apply additional pressure on the ends. The clamp, Jaws II is left in place when the glue is applied.

3) We wax the board lightly and I like Howard feed-n-wax to make clean up easier.

4) We use a quality CA in the "thin" variety that will wick into the fret slot under the fret and sometimes show a wet spot on the other side of the fret.

5) I do a quick wipe taking care to not send any CA on the neck or finish and then a spray of accelerator and then I move on to the next fret.

6) When they are all glued in place I again get out the engineer's scale that test each fret in three places.

It goes fast and is kind of an assembly line process when you do this often.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 10:11 am 
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audiobabble wrote:
SteveSmith wrote:
Sorry for the short reply, I was in a hurry and meant to come back to this one. I think the board isn’t level because it’s 7 & 10. I suspect the luthier used a too-short leveling beam/file or whatever. Raising the action might make it playable but better to get it fixed right.

I’ve had a surprising number of guitars come to my shop because the frets were supposedly leveled by someone else but frets were buzzing somewhere, usually around 10 or so. Almost always the frets just need to be leveled properly, some are just off a little bit and some are terrible. In a few cases loose frets have been the cause and that’s the only thing I use the fret rocker for - I use the end of it to tap on the frets to see if they are properly seated- tink vs thunk, ha.

Anyway, looks like Barry, Josh and Hesh have done a good job addressing the issue. Good luck with it.


Steve

Thanks for the info. In my other reply, I just mentioned that one of the frets on the Gibson is loose on the treble side... so I'd like to ask you: When you've done a re-fret, after all the frets are glued in and cured, would you then (as a matter of course) tap across every fret to make sure you get 'tinks' all the way along each fret? Just been doing a bit of tapping myself... if I tap each fret in the middle, there's no way I'd have noticed that one fret that is loose only at one side... what would be required would be to tap each fret bass AND treble side (and possibly in the middle too)

EDIT: I suppose there may not actually be any gluing involved in fret installation, although it would seem to be a good idea, especially on a refret of an older guitar that's already been refretted once in its lifetime (as in my case & something the luthier was aware of). I understand superglue is a popular choice? The luthier expressed distaste for superglue, albeit in reaction to my telling him I'd used it to glue down some frets that had come loose in the past, from the point of view of it being difficult to remove... so may or may not have used it himself. I always thought acetone was pretty effective at dissolving superglue? I digress...


Every time I do a fret job whether it's a refret or a level and dress I always check the frets (among other things) - each end and the middle (like Hesh said). It does take time but I refuse to get in a hurry and each guitar takes whatever it takes. I use CA when I put in new frets, I don't fault others for what they do as long as the guitars are right. I look at the glue as cheap insurance and it really isn't a big deal to remove the frets when I need to. My clients are all serious players and quite a few are pros, they expect the guitar to play with no issues.

I do things the way Hesh and Dave Collins do it because I was fortunate enough to go through their class some years ago.

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These users thanked the author SteveSmith for the post (total 2): Pmaj7 (Sun Nov 12, 2023 6:13 pm) • Hesh (Thu Aug 24, 2023 4:41 am)
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 3:15 pm 
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Guys -- thank you, great info all round. My name's David, just to give folks a name...
All I can say is I wish I lived around the corner from some of you guys!

I've tapped all the frets and it turns out it really is just that 21st fret on the Gibson that's loose just on the treble side. There are a couple of frets that sound a bit dull by comparison on the treble side on the Ovation around 14/15th but no visible signs of movement.

When it comes to RH... I still have no answer from the Luthier so don't know if he monitors his workshop... as for my own situation, I was probably a bit misleading earlier talking about 70%, actually the guitars are kept on wall hangers in my main room where it's generally kept between 45% and 55%. 70% and above is more relevant to unheated rooms and generally outside.

Now.. about the wall hangers... that's how it's always been for me - I don't have enough floorspace to have them on stands and they definitely need to be in easy reach. Interestingly, it was about 10-14 days after the work was completed before I could get over to pick up the guitars... when I arrived, the acoustic was hanging in the workshop whereas the Gibson was in its case.

I hope to get some feedback at some point from the luthier... hope he hasn't 'gone to ground'. Am also looking at other more local alternatives.



These users thanked the author audiobabble for the post (total 2): Hesh (Thu Aug 24, 2023 4:43 am) • CraigG (Wed Aug 23, 2023 8:19 pm)
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