Gibson LP w/ glued-in frets?

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Mark Wybierala
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Gibson LP w/ glued-in frets?

Post by Mark Wybierala »

I'm doing a refret on a '70s LP. I typically heat up frets with a soldering gun as a matter of routine. The existing frets are hardly worn and the original nibs of the binding are in perfect condition. I was quite surprised to find that these frets are glued in. When I used my fret pullers, the entire fret came out far easier than I expected without any need to use the fret puller in the ordinary way of working across the fretslot. All of the frets are like this with a dark brown adhesive that turns to pliable wet goo when heated -- it just releases the fret entirely.

1. Can anyone confirm that this was an original Gibson process for installing frets or should I assume this was a refret?

2. The adhesive used is awesome for this purpose. Its very dark brown. It is brittle rigid when cool and softens really nicely when heated. Does anyone have any idea what it is? When heated, I get a nostril reaction like you would when heating foam rubber -- cyanide. The scrapings will ignite when a flame is applied to it and it will burn quickly to ash.

3. I've ordered some 1/8" thick hard rubber neoprene sheet that I'm going to attach to the bottom of my 4" long 16" radius sanding block to use as a caul when I glue the new frets in place. McMasterCarr sells a variety hardness sample pack of 6" x 6" sheets. I've wanted to try the process of gluing frets in place for a while. I suppose I can do three frets at a time with the caul. Any suggestions of an adhesive? Could hide glue work? Do you have a favorite epoxy that will soften with heat for the next refret?

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Mark Swanson
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Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
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Re: Gibson LP w/ glued-in frets?

Post by Mark Swanson »

For this, use a glue that will adhere to both the metal and the wood. Use epoxy, I would think any type would be ok, it will all heat up and let go if you need to do that.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Gibson LP w/ glued-in frets?

Post by Mark Wybierala »

Thanks Mark. I just received the sample pack of 6 x 6" 1/8"rubber sheet of varying degrees of hardness. You get six ea of 6X6" 1/8" rubber sheets and I ordered two packs. The stuff seems really great for cauls of all sorts and the price is okay because this stuff can get expensive. The McMasterCarr part# is 9455K666. I have the stewmac radius block for gluing in the frets but I figured that using a rubber faced caul would be a little insurance.

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Gibson LP w/ glued-in frets?

Post by Mark Wybierala »

I found a good way to clean out the fret slots. These are tedious because of the binding. I took the center wire core from a bass guitar string -- about an inch in length. Put it in my dremel with about 1/2" extended from the chuck. On low speed there is a little wobble but it cleanly knocked loose all of the remaining adhesive. It will bore into chucks of the adhesive - I suppose from heat. The wire will break at the chuck if you fatigue it too much by bending. I use a .013 string in my dremel to clean out allen headed screws of Fender saddle adjustment screws. The American made screws have a very small allen head that often gets filled with dead skin preventing the use of an allen key.

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