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Got my frets leveled — Strat now plays like BUTTAH!!!

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by draelyc, May 18, 2019.

  1. draelyc

    draelyc Strat-Talk Member

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    So the fretting out in the upper register kept bothering me, even though I’d tweaked the setup pretty obsessively to minimize it. Finally broke down and just had the leveling done.

    Got it back just now, dropped the action even lower than I’d had it before, and there’s absolutely zero fretting out. Shoulda just done this from the first. But hey, my first Strat — I didn’t know what it was supposed to play like.

    In summary, im just glad that A) im not nuts, B) there actually was something wrong with the guitar (uneven frets), i.e., it wasn’t just me, and C) it’s not just that I was having trouble bonding with the fretboard radius & other specs of a classic guitar design.

    I liked it before. Now that the action is nice & low & slinky, I LOVE it!

     
  2. dbolt

    dbolt Strat-O-Master Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Slippery. Nice.
     
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  3. robistro

    robistro Strat-Talk Member

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    I need to do the same. got a MIM strat and after taking a look with my magnifying glasses, I noticed some frets are semi flat. They must have leveled the frets at the factory and obviously did not finish the job.
     
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  4. SurfsUp

    SurfsUp Senior Stratmaster

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    SWEET

    I need to do this too.....well, not me but a qualified tech.

    My 1993 Strat Plus Deluxe certainly needs it.
     
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  5. draelyc

    draelyc Strat-Talk Member

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    Yeah mang — I cant believe what a big difference it made for mine.
     
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  6. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Sweet, I have one on the bench as we speak.
     
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  7. macoshark

    macoshark Strat-Talker

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    Smart move- I did my Simon Neil and it's the best action on my 3 Strats. I've been putting it off on My AS but since I've been playing that lately I need to break down and do it also. It's been awhile so will need to refresh on all the details. Maybe your thread will help it along.
     
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  8. jaybones

    jaybones Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I hear you!

    A couple years (2+ years of gigging 50 weekends a year & all the associated rehearsals and practise) after buying my '76 hardtail natural (avatar) I had gone back to finish my bachelor's at Ohio University, Athens, and found my Stratocaster needed a refret.

    Guy I knew (fellow player in a mildly successful band) said there was a guy named Dan who lived on Columbia who works on guitars in his basement- gave me his number.

    Called him up, introduced myself and asked him if he worked on guitars. Said "Maybe. What do you have and want done?"

    I told him a '76 hardtail natural that had worn frets.

    He said to bring it over, gave me his address. Made a time to meet up.

    Went to his house, sat in his living room while he looked over my guitar. Said "Yeah, I'll do it. Give me a week, I'll charge $100." Filled out a generic receipt, with what was proposed, cost, and my info (name, address, phone).

    When he glanced at my address he said "That's right across from Stewart Mcdonald!" I had no idea what that was but across the street was a nondescript small industrial building, so I just nodded.

    Called my former bandmate Reggie and told him I was getting my Strat's frets replaced. He asked who was doing it, I said Some local guy named Dan Erlewine.

    He said "Dude, THE Dan Erlewine??!"

    I said Yeah, you heard of him?

    He says "Man, he writes the repair collum for Guitar Player Magazine! He's like the best fret man in the world!!" I start thinking about how much this will cost, but I've got a written estimate, so I'm hoping I'm OK.

    I get a call about 5 - 6 days later, Dan says my guitar is ready. Come to the side door.

    I go to the side door, walk in and its a little waiting room. Pictures on the wall of him with famous players he's done work for (Clapton- tried to rescue Brownie, second opinion sort of thing, Beck, Garcia- built a Strat for him). Little shop through an open doorway.

    He comes out wearing an apron, magnifying glasses flipped up on his head.

    Hands over my case, set it on the counter and open it up.

    Pull it out, and check it out. Perfect action! Plays like oil!!

    He's telling me he micro-planed between a 16th and 32nd of an inch of the FB. Didn't even have to replace the dots or markers. Sprayed a coat of poly- matched the tint perfectly.

    Said "If I didn't know better I couldn't tell it had been done."

    I responded That's saying something, since you're the best fret man in the world."

    He said "The best?! Who told you that?"

    I told him about my conversation with Reggie.

    He said "So you didn't know who I was?"

    I said A friend of mine said some guy named Dan who lives on Columbia works on guitars in his basement.

    He chuckled and said "Some guy named Dan..." Then he asked how I got the guitar.

    Told him I bought it for $300 a couple years earlier.

    He says "That was a deal! Do you know what you've got here?"

    I said Suse, its a 1976 Stratocaster natural hardtail.

    He says "Well, that's what it is. But not what it means. 76 was the first year for the 5 way switch, hand selected bodies got natural finishes, they made a lot of hardtails in the seventies but the majority had colored finishes, and the last year for the better pups."

    He said it was the rarest S series, "And don't change anything on it, especially the finish."

    Then I said "The guy I bought it from said if I hadn't bought it he was going to have it routed for a Floyd Rose and humbuckers."

    He looked shocked, steadied himself on the counter, said "That would have DESTROYED the value!"

    I asked him to write an appraisal, and he said "Well I usually charge for that, but sure."

    Got out his letterhead and wrote the value as $2500 in excellent plus condition.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  9. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    nice! Happy for you. I might do the same on my Jackson. I like the guitar overall, but it's choking out a bit
     
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  10. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Senior Stratmaster

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    The guy who does my repairs, apprenticed under Erlewine for 2 years. He’s the most expensive guy in town. There used to be another guy, that worked at the Kalamazoo Gibson factory, but he only works on vintage Martins now.
     
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  11. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    Happy fret level day!

    After I had played my Ibanez semi hollow body for about 30 years, hard because I was in a few bands and it was my only guitar, I took it in for what I figured was a new set of frets. The luthier I found, apprenticed under Larrivee and was just really into stringed instruments. I told her I figured I needed new frets and that the rosewood fretboard was like a washboard. She eyeballed it and said, I think I might be able to just do a level. She pulled out a micrometer and measured the worst fret. A few seconds later she said yup, one more level and then you’ll definitely need a new set of frets. Like the rest of the stories, when I got it back, it played just like butter and still does. Maybe I’ll take it in for new frets in another 25 years or so :D
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  12. RaySachs

    RaySachs Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I’ve had both my strat and tele pleked and theyplay better than any Fenders I’ve ever had. My Epiphone played like it had been pleked out of the box (flatter fretboard and shorter scale - more margin for error) and still plays easier than my Fenders, but I still Ike playing the Fenders more - I like a bit of a wrestling match!
     
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  13. draelyc

    draelyc Strat-Talk Member

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    This is now one of my favorite forum stories of all time. Amazing!
     
  14. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Strat-O-Master

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    Congrats ! Now you're a Fender guy FOREVER! You're one of us! Glad you joined the pod!
     
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  15. macoshark

    macoshark Strat-Talker

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    Jaybones- Somewhere along the line you were a very good boy to get that payback.
     
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