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Refretting a mighty mite neck? Should I?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by rdhbass, Nov 25, 2003.

  1. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I've thought about refretting my mighty mite bass neck to "jumbo" cause i dont like the medium-vintage frets that came on it. Can a person just yank the frets out carefully and tap new ones in? I saw Fender precut jumbo frets on ebay that were pre-radiused to like 9.5" or 10" fretboard radius. I believe a mighty mite is 12". Can i just smash these pre-cut frets down to 12" radius?
    How 'bout even taking jumbo frets off of another bass and putting 'em on this neck? Ever done that? ....(Hambone, this question could be to you, you seem like the luthier around here)
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If you are careful, it is not at all difficult to remove the frets from the neck. Depending on the quality of the original install, they may simply lift out with a little pressure, or you may be able to use a bit of heat from an iron to soften the bond if they have been glued. That's the easy part.

    Fret material is fairly soft. I would guess that you could easily flatten them a bit to fit a flatter neck. But, there is no real advantage to using precut frets. They require just as much finish work as the other. And, you have less excess to work with if you goof one up.

    As far as removing frets from one neck and placing them in another, I don't think so. Even if you were able to get them out without destroying them, which is a long shot, (take a look at the piles of frets I removed on my defretting page listed at the top of this forum) they wouldn't re-seat well at all with the teeth having already been flattened from the first install. It would take a ton of glue to get them tight. A very messy job and likely still marginal results.

    In general, re-fretting an instrument is a very difficult task. I know many, very experienced players who do their own tech work exclusively who still will go to a pro for a refret. I will try almost anything on my bass guitar as well as my double bass, but I would send out a bass for a refret. The quality of the results is just way too important to gamble.

    In addition to experience, you need a quality set of task specific tools to level and dress them properly after installing them. It is far from and an afternoon, do-it-yourself project.

    The fact that you are working with jumbo frets makes it even more important that you get them right. If the frets aren't level and dressed properly, you'll never be able to get the bass set up right.
  3. Gosh, Chazzy's got the lowdown...

    I would only add that what he said should be raised to a power of 2!

    Just think about how much trouble a single high fret can cause with buzzing and the like. Now multiply that by 20 - 24, each one a slightly different length and put in by hand (assisted with tools but not automated). Then you've got to handle the detailed leveling, crowning and dressing of the ends. Attention to minute details here is critical. The tools alone will set you back around $100 or so to do it right - unless you are comfortable with making your own.

    Right now, I don't do fretting for public consumption because of it's difficulty to get right. I'm learning but I have more to go before I'll be satisfied with my skills.
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I think you could buy a new neck for warmoth for nearly the same price as a refret.

    Like the others tho- I do everything but frets...It's like belonging to a secret guild in order to learn all of the intricacies.
  5. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I have a friend who does refretting and is pretty good at it, has all the tools from stewmac, so i may let him do it...he's done other work that has been good. Thanks for the feedback everybody, now i know! I dont have much to lose on this neck, its a mighty mite and secondly i paid very little for it. I bought this mighty mite neck and body, i like the body but the neck's frets to me dont feel good. I'd rather have a fretless, or jumbo, no "in-between". Heck i could turn this into a fretless, but i was wanting a better fretting bass. Oh well....