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Epiphone John Lennon PART 1

Epiphone John Lennon

This is an beautiful example of an Epiphone John Lennon signature model that’s 10 years old.  It has been played hard and with a capo, subsequnetly frets 1 – 8 have deep grooves in them.  Our newly delevoped Fret Guru String Height & Fret Evaluation Gauge easily reveals the worn spots being right at .020″.  Time for a partial refret using Jescar fret wire, the very best in the business.

Epiphone John Lennon RefretAlthough we prefer to refret the whole guitar, in these tough economic times a partial re-fret is sometimes a more reasonable solution.   The bill for this guitar was a total of $136 for the partial fret job on a bound fingerboard, and an additional $30 to polish the rest of the frets, oil the board, and restring with supplied strngs, and an additional $35 to shim the nut and adjust string grooves to factory specs.

I have confidence in saying we have mastered matching fret ends to look like other company’s work.  If there is a certain style of fret end that we have rarely seen and duplicated, either Matt or I perfect the technique on a partial guitar neck intended just for that purpose.

Epiphone Fret pulled

Here are starting to pull the frets.  Lemon oil, heat, and specialty fret pulling pliers are used with an experienced hand.  Frets can rip out wood if the right amout of heat, pressure, and speed aren’t used.

Epiphone frets removedThis is where we stop on this guitar.

Japanese fret saw

This Japanese fret slot cleaning tool sold by Hosco and distributed by Stew Mac is a real jem of a tool.  I actually have two of them.  The extra time taken to clean these slots, in addition to notching the fret ends with another specialty tool justifies the extra $2 per fret when replacing frets.

radius gauge fretboard

The fingerboard measures at a 10′ radius.   Straight Frets has a nice arsenal of radius blocks.  The 10 will clean up the board with 320 just lightly enough to match the factory’s work.

fretboard preparation

After light sanding, this area appears lighter in color. The finished oiled board will look like the untouched area.

fret tang

The fret wire is undercut just so that it fills the slot, but doesn’t push out the binding.

epi john lennon

After checking the slot width with feeler gauges, the fret tang had to be crimp with specialty cfret crimping pliers to ensure a good seat.

epiphone frets

Here are the first five frets glued in with Titebond and hammered in.  Next stage is to clamp them up with out 10′ block with a .030″ plastic lining.  If this were a 12′ radius we would use our Stew-Mac aluminum sanding beam.  At $140 each, we don’t have every size of these great tools, but Stewart MacDonald keeps getting my money, so it’s very possible the 10′ aluminum beam will be on next month’s purchase list. Our wooden clamping caul only covers the first 7 frets, so we will have to do this in two passes…

frets pressed

We’ll leave this clamped up for about at least four hours, then we’ll repeat the steps for the remaining three frets.

In the next episode, we’ll see this job completed.  We will clip and bevel the fret ends, then level, crown, and shape the frets to match the original.  Fianlly we will buff them all make them look better than the day this guitar was new.


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