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Binding and refrets?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by reverendrally, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. A mate has a gibson that really needs a refret. The neck is bound. Would I need to pull the binding off to refret it?

    P.s. it's from the late 50s. It's had a refinish, but I'd rather not disturb the binding if possible.
  2. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    No. The binding remains in place. He pays more to have the work done.

    • When installing frets in an unbound neck the frets are cut long and trimmed after being installed in the kerfs.
    • On a bound neck the fret tangs are nipped back so they will fit between the bindings. The fret crowns are left long and trimmed to length after installation.
    • Gibson's are special. The frets are trimmed to the ends of the fingerboard. Then the binding is installed along side the frets to the height of the crown. Then the binding is scraped back down to the fingerboard leaving binding covering the fret end.
    To re-fret a Gibson correctly, the frets have to be sized exactly to fit between the binding. This is exacting work. It is time consuming. Time means money.

    Some techs will remove the frets and sand the nibs off so that they can install like a normal binding job. Ask the tech. If he tells you this, walk away.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    No, you generally wouldn't, unless the binding was damaged somehow. The old frets are pulled straight up and out, the slots are cleaned out, and the new frets are carefully fitted, nipping the ends of the tangs, so they fit between the bindings.
    reverendrally likes this.
  4. Thanks Bruce. @202dy I'm the tech. Here's the instrument in question...


    It's a bit grainy, but it doesn't have the lumps in the binding described (which I always thought looked silly anyway). Cool.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yep, it's already been re-fretted and de-lumped.
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The Boy Scouts have a credo when camping: Leave no trace. Techs should do the same.

    The good news is that this can be fixed without removing the binding.

    First, install the new frets to the width of the fingerboard only. They should have a flat profile at the ends. Once they are installed, but before dressing, replace the nibs.

    Grind or shave some binding on to flat surface. Add a few drops of acetone. That will melt the shavings. Stir into a paste with a suitable tool. Palette knife works well for this. Daub a bit of this "binding paste" onto the binding and fret ends. When it hardens file it using the same method you use when taking care of fret ends. Then take a razor blade scraper and scrape along the fingerboard surface and up and over the frets.

    Dress the frets as usual.

    The last step is to do some finish touch up to match the color. If you do it carefully, no one will ever know you were there.

    This work should be charged for by the hour. It doesn't take long to do it and the value of the guitar is enhanced.
  7. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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