Re-fretting a Traben bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ringy, Nov 11, 2012.


  1. ringy

    ringy

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    I work on guitars and a guy has asked me to look at a Traben bass which the previous owner had defretted. The owner would like the frets reinstated which raises two questions:

    How easy is it to reinstate the fret grooves? They are easily identifiable but how easy are they to clean out?

    Anybody know what gauge of fret wire is used on a Traben bass? As its been defretted I have nothing to go on. I emailed Traben days ago but no response.
     
  2. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    Do you have experience fretting a neck?

    The fret gauge Traben used shouldn't matter, install what the player wants. As for cleaning out the slots, what were they filled with?
     
  3. ringy

    ringy

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    As I said in my first post I work on guitars and have done several refrets but never a bass. As it's not a straight refret in that I don't have the original frets as a guide to the gauge, that's why I asked.

    The owner "thinks" the grooves were filled with that plastic wood putty stuff. You can see from the pics it's not exactly a professional job. It looks like the board was stained and wiped off after the grooves were filled.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    What I'm saying is that you don't need the original frets for anything. The tang is the same on all frets, so the owner needs to choose how tall & wide he likes them. If he likes narrow vintage fret wire, install that. I can pretty much guarantee that it didn't come from the factory with it, but it doesn't matter.

    As for removing the material, I would basically start from scratch and use a fret saw to cut new slots right where the previous slots were.
     
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  6. darkstorm

    darkstorm

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    Oct 13, 2009
    Sounds like you have no experience in this area. The basses owner would be better off going to experienced person for refret imo. Sounds harsh but imo is true.
     
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround

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    Actually they vary. For instance, Jim Dunlop's fret tang sizes range from .021" to .037".
     
  8. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    Interesting, I didn't know that.
     
  9. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

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    May 4, 2009
    Not only does the thickness of the tang vary, but so do the barbs that seat the fret. These need to be matched to the fingerboard wood as well to make sure the frets seat properly. The width and crown of the fret wire is the least of the concerns from a refretting perspective. Tang thickness and barb geometry are everything.
     
  10. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    Considering he has to cut new slots anyways, how would knowing what the previous fret size was be beneficial?

    I would think that using frets with a larger tang/barbs than were previously installed would be the best option. That would eliminate the filler material completely, and you'd have new slots right into the wood.
     
  11. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    It is beneficial to know the original tang size because of fretboard compression. When refretting a guitar neck that has a large forward bow but does not have a truss rod, techs and luthiers use a technique called compression fretting. Frets with larger tangs are installed in the bow of the neck. This forces the neck into a back bow. When the strings are installed the neck will pull into proper relief.

    Fret tangs must be matched to the kerf. If a .022" saw is used, .022" is the proper fret tang size. If a larger tang is used the fingerboard will force a back bow. If a slimmer tang is used, the neck will bow forward.

    As far as eliminating filler material goes, unless the neck was placed in a backnbow when the filler was installed (widening the slots) there is no more filler in the slot than the slot size allows.

    In any event, this is not a do-it-yourself project. Most pros are not fond of re-cutting fret slots after being filled. Successful completion of this task will only be accomplished by the seriously handy. As always, if you think a file is something on your computer, consider changing a tire as working on a car, or have to look in kitchen drawers to find your tools, take this repair to a professional.
     
  12. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

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    Go read chapter 12 of Dan Erlewine's book.
     
  13. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    Can you just answer the question?

    The book is sitting at home.
     

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