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1979 Fender Precision - Refret?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sarlscharisma, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007

    I have got a 1979 Fender Precision with a maple fretboard and I was wondering if anyone knows what the tell-tale signs are to see if the neck has been refretted?

    It is not easy to tell, but I just have a niggle that it might have been refretted.

    Any help appreciated
  2. SoLongJake

    SoLongJake Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Des Moines, Iowa
    As long as the frets are level and well dressed, what does it matter?
  3. Jjango


    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Maybe he wants to keep it, and be sure it's vintage spec. Maybe he wants to sell it, and wishes to know if he can honestly say "stock/no modifications". I don't think there's anything wrong with him asking.

    To the OP: I think if you post close-up photos, it would probably help.
  4. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007
    Simply want to know its vintage value.
  5. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Do you see any chipping at the FB edges? That is a tell-tale sign. If the
    frets are level, crowned and not badly worn, be happy. To check, hold
    the bass so that you can sight down the neck at eye level from the
    bridge end. Do it from both sides. Tilt the bass so that the frets turn into
    a single smooth pane of glass. Look for unevenness or high/low frets.
    From the side of the neck (top and bottom) examine each fret to see if
    the tang is seated exactly in the fret groove. Extreme fret sprout or
    roughness at the ends is a sign, as are uneven/asymmetrical cuts
    of the fret ends.

    If all looks well, then all is well, IMHO.

    Do you see any wear? Does the wear you see match the wear on the
    rest of the instrument? If so, and the wire itself matches other basses of
    the period, the question is moot....All IMHO.
  7. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    those are certainly the correct profile of fret for that era. Those look original to me.
  8. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007
    It seems to me that some of the cuts are uneven and the bevels on the edge of each fret are not consistent, which gives rise to my suspicion.
  9. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007
    ...just to add, if you look at the 4th fret from the body side and compare it to the 5th fret up it seems like the bevel on the 4th is more pronounced.
  10. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    There are several things to look at. The first and most obvious is chipping on the playing surface of the fingerboard near the frets. Up until approximately 1982, Fender installed the frets by sliding them into the slots from the treble side. If the tech does not know this and tries to remove the fret by prying them out (SOP on every other neck) there will be a lot of chipping. The reason is that the barb on the fret never went into the slot from the top. Therefore the wood above the barb has never been disturbed. It make quite a mess. Another telltale sign on a maple fingerboard is the lacquer. Fender installed the frets first then shot the polyester. Therefore the finish bridges up the sides of the fret. When installing new frets, one of the first thing the installer will do after removal will be to knock down the overspray. So the new fret will have no lacquer bridging the side of the fret. That is, unless the tech shoots the neck. Then the surface needs to be scrutinized. And if the finish is ten years old, it might be pretty hard to detect. Only the most artful luthier will take the time to slide a new fret in the old lacquer channel.

    As far as the edge of the fingerboard goes, flaked finish might mean that the frets have been changed. Or if might mean that someone played the guitar with rings on their left hand. Same goes for no chipping. A good tech will touch up the finish. If there seems to be dirt under a tight finish it might have been re-fretted. Or it might have been touched up. Either way, that will have a negative effect on value. Most of the time, the tech will use super glue to touch up the fret ends. CA glue will look purple under ultraviolet light.

    Someone mentioned some uneveness in the bevels. That might be a clue. Or not. By '78, the quality control at Fender was not the best. It could be factory fresh.
  11. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147

    Brilliant, informed, and....we are not worthy, we are not worthy. :eek: :eek: :eek:

    BTW all--slight hi-jack: I looked it up, SOP == Standard Operating Procedure. My "I dunno, might be refretted" '69 P-bass neck I bought off Ebay years ago for WAY too much, was obviously refretted by exactly the SOP 202dy has warned about, and then over-sprayed with something foul. Seller was asked and said "Dunno." Still the neck SOUNDED good and I kept it.

    Thankfully RSguitarworks made all things right with a good de-hump, refret, and refin. It came out great, and I learned a lot.

    To the OP, even a good refret is no doubt a subtractor for value/price. The question I always ask is "Is this neck healthy?" I am assuming you are after a good player with substantial vintage cred. Correct me if I have it wrong. :p
  12. sarlscharisma


    Nov 6, 2007
    Indeed, I want a good playr but would like to know its vintage worth.
  13. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    I remember reading that in a Stew-Mac catalog in the pre-www days. I forgot the part about how long Fender did it that way. I think Dan E. suggested filing a little notch in the end of the fret and tapping it out sideways with a hammer and punch in the reverse direction of entry for removal.
  14. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Takes too long, and it is very easy to slip with the file. That will make for a lot of work on the fingerboard, the binding, or cause a cracked nut.

    A nail set, or similar iron tool is ground to a sharp point. A sharp rap with an eight ounce hammer will start the fret moving. A few more taps will have 3/8" or so outside the treble side of the neck at which point a pair of end nippers can be employed to pull the fret. It will slide out of the kerf like a drawer.

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