Refret MIJ maple neck (poly) - need luthier recommendations

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Scooter, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    I've got a '96 54 Reissue MIJ Strat. Never got along with the vintage frets, and after a fret level and crown took even MORE material off it became unplayable so I swapped it for another neck (two, actually) and played it that way for years. But I always liked the original neck's V shape feel and the 7.25 radius doesn't really bother me, especially if I can go with larger frets like 6105, so I'm thinking about going back to it.

    I'm looking for recommendations for a luthier who can do a re-fret on this without disturbing the poly fretboard finish of the maple neck - for a fair and reasonable fee. Apparently it can be done, if someone knows what they're doing.

    I found a guy on Facebook who used to work for Musikraft. He builds custom necks and does re-fretting, but after shipping my neck to him he has informed me that he's too busy and can't take on the work (six weeks after receiving it from me - nice, huh?).

    I fully realize that a re-fret will cost as much as a new neck. I may decide to go that route but if I can find a good luthier who can do my re-fret that would be my first choice.
     
  2. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I was in the same situation with my 1976 Strat. After one fret level there wasn't much fret there, and it was difficult to play, at least for me. When I removed the old frets it was obvious that the fillets of clear polyester at each fret were not going to allow me to install bigger and wider frets. I used a radius beam to sand the fretboard enough to remove all the polyester, which also trued up a slight twist. Then I used Dan Erlewine's method of putting 0.020" thick strips of teflon in each fret slot, and easily refinished the fretboard. It took some honey colored wood stain to make it match the rest of the neck. I used Tru-Oil to make a gloss finish, but at that point something like Spraymax 2K would work great too. Then I took out the teflon strips, used a fret saw to make sure the slots were clean, and put the new frets in. They're Jescar 58118 stainless steel, which is the same size as Dunlop 6000.

    The result is much nicer looking than it originally was, and for me it plays a lot better. I don't recommend trying to refret it without refinishing the fretboard. Once the frets are out it's not difficult at all.

    photo002.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  3. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    Very nice job!


    I'm not looking to do the work myself. I don't have the time, knowledge, skills, or desire to undertake something like that. Looking for a luthier who can do this for me.
     
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  4. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    If you're in upstate new york, you might want to call Ithaca Guitar Works to see if they know someone knowledgeable in the region.

    My go-to for anything setup is Mike Lull in Seattle region. I asked a quote about refret and it was ridiculously expensive (like $900). Honestly for this price he is probably sub-contracting with someone else and adding a markup.

    If you're willing to ship cross-country, other options are Portland Fret Works and the 12th Fret, both in OR. I have not used them, but plan to do so soon. Ping me in a month to see how that went (assuming I have the guitar back by then).
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  5. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I got that impression from your first post. My intent was to give you information about a good way to do the job so if you agree you can pass it on to the person who does the work. I'm sure you can find someone to replace the frets without a refinish, but I wouldn't do that to one of my guitars if the neck was sprayed after the frets were installed.
     
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  6. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

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    I have a 1976 Strat. Frets were shot. And I looked around and found a guy would refret without refinishing the fretboard. It came out OK. Guitar had a lot of play wear so it look like it was never refretted. Chips and stuff. I probably would have had it refinished if I knew better. In your case, you probably should do it proper as it's a more newer guitar.

    IMG_7250.JPG IMG_7251.JPG IMG_7253.JPG IMG_7254.JPG IMG_7255.JPG
     
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  7. Kyri

    Kyri Senior Stratmaster

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    I got a 85 mij squier neck refretted without refinish, so it is possible, if they know what they are doing. Ask to see pics of previous work.
     

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  8. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    Gotcha :). I appreciate it!
     
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  9. Worksong

    Worksong New Member!

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    • Agreed re: Portland Fret Works and 12th Fret in Portland. I live in Portland and they’re both great. Ryan at Eastside Guitar Repair in Portland is also great; he’s been maintaining my guitars for years and I highly recommend him. Hope this helps.