Rick refret question...

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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Rick refret question...

Postby (rhampshire) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 5:45 am

Hello gents,
I've just pulled the frets on my '79 4001; I'm going to try a refret for the first time. I realize a Rick isn't the best instrument to learn on, but mine is a beater and is already heavily modded, so why not try it? I want to learn!

Anyway, I've got the frets out, and I didn't pull ANY chips out of the board! I'm going to sand the finish off of the fretboard anyway, since it's goobered up pretty good in several spots. My question is, after I install new frets, will it hurt the 'board any to leave it unfinished? Fenders with rosewood boards are bare, so can I leave the board on my 4001 bare without any negative consequences?

Thanks!
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Postby (markthemd) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 6:29 am

Before you sand the clear off ,try this ...

get a pack of utility knife blades ,ie Stanley knife blades.Use them as a scraper blade .It will remove the clear cleaner and won't wreck havoc with the radius .Of course if you just hack at the fret board it will.
Angle the blade across the length so you won't grab at each fret slot .
If you feel the blade grabbing for some reason ,flip the angle by 90 degrees.That will give you better results.

When you have scraped 90% off ,then sand.

NO! unfinished fretboards will NOT be harmed by lack of finish.

I do this all the time .It allows easier fret work ,feel is awesome and it never feels like glue after playing on a hot stage for hours.

Cleans up with 4/0 steel wool nicely.

What kind of fret wire are you installing?

How are you trimming the ends to lay over the binding?

Are you pressing or hammering or doing the Don Teeter method?
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 7:08 am

Mark, that was fast! Ok... I understand your 'scraper' method, but why is this better than just sanding the board with coarse paper? (80 grit or so) Only because I won't go through thirty sheets of paper? Image

This is the fret wire I ordered from Stewmac:
0154 wide/higher W=.100" / H=.110" / C=.050"
0150 wide/highest W=.103" / H=.130" / C=.055"

I like big frets... Image

I'm going to cut and file the ends of the wire to overhang the binding - I didn't want to buy the $35 stewmac tang trimmer tool... it will take me a while but I've got time...

Also the fret wire does not come pre-radiused, and I don't have a radiusing tool, so I'm not sure how to do that yet... maybe i can bend the wire by hand before I cut it? It comes in 2' lengths.

Re: your third question - I got me one of those plastic-tipped hammers... 8 Ounce, I think.

I'm definitely going to leave the board unfinished now after hearing your advice. The 'stickiness' you speak of is exactly what I want to avoid.

This bass actually has an auto-body refin, and whatever they used made the back of the neck feel like glue, so I scraped, sanded, and refinished it with polyurethane. Looks like hell where the poly meets the old (red) finish, but feels much better!
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Postby (markthemd) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 10:25 am

I would first call around to some repair shops and see if they have a fret bender .This is something thast Stew / Mac sells....I made one years ago and still use it .
I over radius the frets alittle ...easier to seat the ends and press in the center rather than seat ther center first ,then ends.

Don't cut the wire until AFTER you bend it ...lots easier to bend the whole length .

Sanding by hand can cause a change in the center of the radius.I have seen shops do this with the radius blocks that Stew/Mac sells! Pretty tough to fix.
Scraping then sanding almost eliminates this .

I use a yellow resin mallet to seat the ends.I have used metal hammers ,but they can dent the wire .
I have used a custom arbor press for almost 20 years .I have also been forced to use the Don Teeter method ...it never works on old Ricks ...You need to compression fret them.

I also use yellow glue with an eye dropper to help swell/seat the frets.This is NOT gluing them in !
Wax the fretboard before you do any of this.I aids in clean up and is easily removed.

Too bad about the finish material ...PPG Acrylic Urethanes are great clears for necks.
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 11:12 am

Thanks Mark!

I have a shop right down the road from me that does refretting... I will see if they can bend my fretwire for me. Good idea!

Do you know what the board radius is on a 4001? Mine's a '79 if that matters any.

I was planning on sanding the board with a flat block of oak... while being careful about the radius, of course. The board is in good shape so I don't need to take much off, I'm going to take it down to just below the the finish...

What is the Don Teeter method? I have the same yellow resin hammer you speak of and was planning on just wacking them in with it... will this not work so well?
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Postby (markthemd) » Fri Aug 10, 2001 6:20 pm

Have the guys radius the wire to a vintage fender radius ..that will work great .

Seat the ends first .The trimming of the tang can be done with end nippers (I use these to remove frets) and then using a jeweler vice ,place a tooth pick in the jaws ,then turn the fret tang up,and file off the stub of tang .The nippers should be used to remove as much as possible .

Don Teeter was an repairman in Oklahoma that wrote two excellent books on acoustic guitar repair .He is now retired .

He popularized a method of using Dental cutters to widden the slots and then epoxing the frets in .
He had several reasons for doing this method .I have used it for the same reasons over the years and have modified his version several times .For the reasons that he does this ...I agree .BUT!!! not as a general method of fretting.

On a Rick it is not advisable to do it Don's method.At least unless there is a problem .
But that is another issue.
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Mon Aug 13, 2001 5:08 pm

Mark, here's an update of my progress...

I have the fretboard sanded and ready for frets to be installed. Using the scraper blades worked great, and man was there a lot of finish on there! I made my own fret radiusing tool using a hunk of aluminum and some screen door rollers. (damn I'm smooth!) I radiused my wire to be a little smaller radius than the board, cut a few frets, and filed the ends to go over the binding.
Tried to install two of them tonight using the 'resin hammer method', and they won't go in and/or stay down. Maybe I'm not as smooth as I thought.

I guess I need to press them in and glue them with CA (superglue)? Hmmm....
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Postby (markthemd) » Mon Aug 13, 2001 7:23 pm

It is kind of nice to know what size tang the old wire had VS the new wire .

Another trick that I use is denatured alcohol .I use an eye dropper to swell the fret slots .It evaporates quickly .

DON'T let it get on the finish however ...it may ghost on you.Then you would need to get a can of 'Blush Remover' and that is getting hard to come by .

I seat the ends first ...then work toward the center .With a shoe and a press it is way easier .
Using CA glue is tricky ...especially if they don't seat the first time .Then you must remove them and try again ,but the CA must get cleaned up ! Some fun !

Funny how having the knowledge is not even half of Fretting!
There is a lot of 'Art' to it .
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Tue Aug 14, 2001 5:07 am

Mark,

I don't have a set of calipers, and stew/mac doesn't say how wide their tangs are, but they recommend a fret slot width of 0.024" I think the old wire was original so I don't know how wide that was...

I'm not sure if the slots are too wide or not wide enough. The first fret i tried wouldn't go in all the way and on the second, the ends would pop up. I don't have a press or any method of pressing them in... and that sounds like what I need to do.

Why doesn't seating them with a mallet work? Is it because of the type of wood Ric uses for fretboards?

By the way, don't think I said it yet... Thanks for your help Mark!
Rob
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Postby (markthemd) » Wed Aug 15, 2001 6:10 am

You have just discovered the headache of fretting.It is not as easy as it would seem.

I over bend my fretwire .The ends need to be seated first .After planing the fretboard ,I wax the fretboard (this is only if it is brown wood or ebony ) .I then use a plastic mallet to seat the ends.I use an eye dropper of Naphtha on the ends and Tap the treble side in a little ...then seat the bass side .Back to the treble side .

I never ever beat the fret like you are hitting a nail that won't go into a board .NEVER.

The naphtha acts as a lubricant and evaporates rapidly .I don't use it on every fret job ,nor every fret .
This is also only for RE -Fretting.

The reason the fret springs up is ,you are trying to press in a piece of wire that is like a spring.
You need to 'fool' it .
By seating the treble side first ...and it does not have to be in all the way ,and then tapping in the bass side ,the center will start to move into the slot .I use a shoe to assist this movement .I used to use a block of brass or aluminum to do the same .I would set the block on top of the wire and hammer that directly ...not the wire .

I also have an arbor press that I bought in 1981.That has been a real time saver and has allowed for better /cleaner fret work.
I got that long before there was a Stew/Mac supplier .
My press is huge ,with an arm that allows me to fret any size guitar .
Most presses only work on Fender type necks or for production as you can't get the whole guitar under the press when it is assembled.

Some woods are more difficult to fret than others .HongKong rosewood -the stuff Rick used in the 1970's (at least then if not longer ) is no fun to refret.

One last trick is this ...some times the edge of the slot is too square and the tang edge that meets the bead (the crown /playing area of the fret ) is not square.It is slightly rounded .Some times that causes the frets to not seat.So I take a jewelers triangle file to the slot ...and push the file along the slot to relieve this edge .
I also look at where the old fretwire beads went in and try to avoid them.

Work from the outsides to the center .

Good luck.
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Thu Aug 16, 2001 5:05 am

Hey Mark, another update...

I gave it another go last night - still no luck. The frets just DO NOT want to go in all the way. Seems strange to me - I seated the very first fret I tried with no trouble. The second didn't want to go, and the third one was also uncooperative.

I over-radiused the wire, and I successfully got the ends to seat on both of the stubborn ones with my resin hammer. However, the centers on both of them don't want to go all the way home. I kept smacking them, but it's like they go so far and then stop. I did deepen and clean the slots, and also filed the edges of them also as you suggested.

Time to make up a press jig, me thinks.
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Postby (markthemd) » Thu Aug 16, 2001 6:11 am

You can get shoes from Stew mac ...they aren't cheap .Arbor presses can be had from tool outlets for under $100.00

You could also use a drill press in a pinch ,but ...the gears won't take that for long .

Especially on a small press .

You should not have to resort to gluing them in .I only use glues to swell the wood and fill the voids on string ends so you don't have Martinitis.

What is Martinitis? Play a D-35 and do a pull the high E string off the neck ...does it catch under one of the frets? Yes? Well now you know what Martinitis is .
So you too want yours "ALAPWOB"?!?!
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Postby (rhampshire) » Wed Aug 22, 2001 6:42 am

Hi Mark,
Well, I'm progressing slowly. I made a tool to press the frets in... It's basically two pieces of 1/4" steel, each 1 inch wide and 3" long, one goes under the neck, one on top. The one on top has a piece of aluminum with a 10" radius to fit the fret, and the bottom has a piece of wood radiused to the back of the neck. There's two bolts on each side of the thing, and by tightening them, it sqeezes the frets in real nice! However, I'm now down to the last 6 where the neck meets the body, and need to come up with something else, as the tool won't work with the neck heel under there... I'll figure something out...

Getting there!
Rob
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Postby (rhampshire) » Wed Aug 29, 2001 4:46 am

Hey Mark,
Thanks again for all your help on this... It's done! I ended up just hammering in the last 5 frets near the neck/body joint. After leveling I still had one or two high frets, but after re-leveling, recrowning and polishing, this damn thing plays like butter now! yee-haa!

Gonna do my '78 Jazz next... but not for a while. The girlfriend is mad at me for having tools and sandpaper and towels and files and fretwire on the dining room table for 2 weeks. Image
rob
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Re: Rick refret question...

Postby (Frederik1974) » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:04 pm

Fretwire for the 4001 rick bass (model 1974 approx.),
the fretwire of the 4001 is smaller than the fretwire of the 4003,
Most likely, Dunlop 6230 nickel-silver fret wire is what you're looking for. Consensus of opinion is that 4001 frets were/are .080"x .037". Which would explain why they can wear so fast... The frets on this '73 4001 are in very good shape, and that's what size they are - near as I can tell. Can't vouch for the "Dunlop" part, though...:thumbsup:

with big thanks to: GIBrat51 from talkbass.com


kindest regards, Frederik

O yeah, I forgot to mention you can order your rick parts @ www.the-music-connection.com/ricpart.htm
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