Can you tell what's about to happen?.....
The owner of this here guitar wanted the old worn frets replaced with Super Jumbo Stainless Steel frets - as well as a recessed Floyd Rose cavity for more upward pull on the tremolo. You can see there has already been some custom routing for the bridge pickup, exposing the wood grain. The top routing is done in 2 steps, sized according to the bridge style. .
This old guitar used small frets with a small tang size. The super jumbo has a large tang to support the crown, so I had to cut the fret slots in a few thousands of an inch so that the new fretwire would seat. I vary my fretting technique depending on the guitar - this one I felt best to first seat the fretwire by traditional hammer method, followed by press to insure consistency. The biggest concern when changing fretsize is of course compressing the neck. The best way to avoid this is to insure the frest slot width mates well with the fretwire you are using. Often you will need to either modify the fret slot or fretwire itself. An overly compressed neck will be back-bowed when you are done your fretwork. A result showing that you will need to remove the frets and start over...
A little custom work done here on this Gibson Les Paul II - New super jumbo frets, 3 Burns Pickups w/ custom wiring!
This Hamer needed some tlc after a previously rough refret job took place. A lot of the fingerboard wood was damaged from excess force pulling out the old frets. I had to remove the frets, clean off the glue (used as fill), plane the board, repair the cracked wood, replace frets, etc. This is the pictorial of the process.
Just nasty. After removing the frets, cleaning away the glue, I resurfaced the board to get rid of that mess.
I don't recommend anybody take on this kind of job, but here's a pictorial of how to get 'er done.
After pulling out the old frets, the fretboard has to be planed out level again. If the neck is badly warped, this poses challenges. This particular guitar couldn't simply be treated with heat and pressing. To plane the neck properly the neck must be supported. I used a sandbag for this guitar, being a neck-thru model and very flexible, it worked well. I plane out the fretboard with the proper radius block/bar. Work out the warped areas until level again. I warned the customer that we would need to take off a lot of material to get this neck into the playing realm again, it was extremely warped/twisted. On top of that, it had a compound radius fretboard which starts at 10" and progresses to 14", so I have to check my work constatly. After sanding it level using a coarse grit, I work up to finer and finer grits until polished. Then it's time for new frets.
Clean out all the fret slots as well as possible. If the fret tang and slot size is compatible, hammering them in should be an easy process. This one wasn't. Required extensive cleaning and fret tang size was slightly too wide. If you install frets with wider tangs than fret slots you will likely compress the neck into a back bow. Not a good idea. Widen the slots.
After taking off all that wood, the nut shelf had to be lowered. I used the radius block (with a router) since it was easiest to make level resting on the fretboard. Take off small increments at time until the nut sits just right.
Once the frets are in place, trim off the excess, dress the ends and give it a final level, crown and polish.