ESP 7 string refret

So here's another refret I did recently in the workshop here. This one is a little different in that it's a 7 string which isn't a big deal, but also it has a "fret over binding" neck. I'll explain.

There are a few different ways of fretting a neck with binding. The two most common are this type and the "nub end" method used by Gibson where there a little "nubs" of binding at the end of each fret. There are both more work than a standard non bound neck.

The first part is pretty standard as to nearly any refret. To get the old frets out without damaging anything. Because some frets are glued in from the factory I always heat up the fret before pulling. It just makes sense to me.

Be careful not to melt the binding when you heat up the fret. Also be careful to pull the fret straight up so you don't widen or damage the slot or chip the fretboard.

With this method you have to nip the tang at the width of the fretboard between the binding on every slot (obviously it gets wider as you move down the neck) so each fret is custom cut for each slot.

The fret is then "over" bent past the radius of the fretboard, ready to be installed back into the slot.

Once the fretboard has been sanded flat and all the slots cleaned out and checked it's time to cut all your frets and keep them in order. You could do this as you go but I find it easier to do all the frets and get them ready to put back in first.


With the new frets in you have little bits of fret hanging over the end of the fretboard that need to be trimmed and angled. These go OVER the binding and have no tang holding them in on the ends, so be careful.

With these trimmed you need to angle the edge of the fret back from the edge of the fretboard and "round" the ends so they don't feel sharp as you run your hand down the neck.

With this done, you can dress the frets and re-crown them ready to polish. This is where all your hard work up until now pays off. If you're frets are all over the place when you installed them, they're going to need a lot of dressing and you'll be removing good fret that you just put in.

A good fret job should look almost like it hasn't been done at all. Some fretboards are a lot harder than others but the end result is always to make the guitar play well with new (probably bigger) frets. This effects the way the guitar plays and sometimes sounds so be prepared to expect that.


Next you'll need to do the nut. If the frets are higher, the old nut will be too low to use. You'll have to shim it or replace it. Make sure the nut slot is clean and flat before you put the nut back in. If it doesn't have a flat surface to sit on, it won't work properly.

With the nut on you can put the outside two strings on to make sure the height is approx right before you start glueing and cutting.

With the nut sorted you can now go ahead do a set up. Re-cut the nut, adjust the trussrod and action. The neck will have moved around due to the refret so I usually do a simple set up and l let it settle in for a few days if possible.

While I will do "just" a refret on a neck I prefer to and recommend doing the whole job so I can see what effect the refret has had on the neck. Refrets can effect the way a neck reacts and to get a neck refretted and then just put it back on with old nut/set up doesn't make sense to me.

When done properly you're guitar will play much better after a refret, providing it actually needed one to start with.


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