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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines


Getting old frets out is generally a lot harder than getting the new ones in. Here’s how to refret a vintage Fender with a little lateral thinking…
The original frets are low and pitted, but this is a player-grade Strat and new frets will enhance playability

Prior to the mid 1980s, Fender used a machine that installed frets sideways. Rather than hammering or pressing them into the fingerboard in the traditional way, they were inserted at the bass side of the ‘board before being pulled through the slot using a footoperated device.

Doubtless this was one of Leo Fender’s ideas for streamlining production and dispensing with the need for specialist workers, but it’s important to consider if you’re planning on replacing the factory frets of any Fender guitar or bass made before 1982 – or indeed, 1985, according to some accounts.

If you attempt to pull the frets out in the usual way, you’re likely to do a lot more damage to the fingerboard than you’d expect during a non-Fender fret extraction.

Fretwire has a curved section on the top, known as the crown. It’s the part that remains visible when the frets are installed.

Beneath that, there’s a thin section known as the tang, which is intended to sit inside the fret slot. Along the sides of this tang are barbs, which grip the sides of the fret slot so the fret remains firmly seated.

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