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mike f

‘74 Jazz bass and the fear of getting it refretted

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I have a 1974 Fender Jazz bass. I’ve had it since 1993 and in that time I’ve gigged and recorded with it and noodled and rehearsed and practiced with it; it is my mainstay, my beloved..., and I think it needs a refret. And that thought, that of such a change, gives me the fear.

So, good people of Basschat, am I just being daft? Have you done the same? Should I or shouldn’t I? 

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My father in law has a 73 P bass in the same position. The answer is leave it if it is retired and purely on show, otherwise life goes on and you should get it done.

Do your research, get a refret done by someone who knows what they are doing (rather than just someone who does setups) and there is no problem.

 

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16 minutes ago, mike f said:

...it is my mainstay, my beloved...

For those reasons alone get it a nice new set of frets and keep playing it for another 27 years.

 

Your fear is understandable - the changes to tone caused by the frets wearing have been very gradual, this will be a sudden change (albeit not necessarily a noticeable one).

Going for super Jumbo stainless steel frets will definitely change the tone, where as something like it left the factory with (medium height cupronickel or silver nickel) would be a more sympathetic/appropriate (?) choice.

 

Go for it! 😎

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Personally I’d get it done (if the current frets stop it playing properly) either with low profile frets or by having the new frets stoned down to stop that brand new feeling.

That said, isn’t it Brian May who won’t refret his Red Special? So you’re not daft. 

Edited by Chiliwailer
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I'd say get it done.  Original frets don't add much value to a bass IMO, not in the same way an original finish or pickups etc does.  I think of them as a necessary replacement at some point in the life of a bass, similar to strings.

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I'd definitely get it done, if its affecting your ability to play it and enjoy it.

My 1970 P is on its third set of frets, but it means i can still gig it and it still plays beautifully, rather than retiring it.

A good luthier should be able to do a really nice job of it and give it a new lease of life.

Whereabouts are you?

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Get it done, otherwise what’s the point of having it?

That said, it’s a bound neck so take it to someone who knows what they’re doing.

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57 minutes ago, Chiliwailer said:

 

That said, isn’t it Brian May who won’t refret his Red Special? So you’re not daft. 

Have you seen his hair? 🐩

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I’d get it done, though if you’re feeling unsure then a decent stop-gap could be a fret dress (might send that idea to J.P. Gaultier!).

That can often put a bit of life back into worn frets...

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If you do your research and find a good and experienced person to do the refret, there's nothing to worry about.

Also a refret will add value. Change anything else might devalue your bass, but a refret does the opposite.

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I would have the frets dressed if it’s possible to increase playability, if the bass is 100% original it will keep it original and maintain its value 🙂

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3 hours ago, wateroftyne said:

Get it done, otherwise what’s the point of having it?

That said, it’s a bound neck so take it to someone who knows what they’re doing.

My main ‘72 Ric is at the point where it may soon need a refret; at the moment it’s a real fretless wonder. I took it to Steve Curtis at The Guitar Workshop in Manc at the start of the year expecting to get it done then, but he very lightly dressed it and said it has a bit of life in it yet. I’m still not looking forward to when it is eventually done. Strangely having my spare done, which is rarer due to the colour, doesn’t really worry me too much. 

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All my vintage Fenders have been refretted at least once. If you don't get it done, it eventually ceases to be a musical instrument.

It will also enhance the life of the fingerboard, which will be taking more wear from the strings with low frets.

If you are concerned to keep the bass as original as possible, ask the luthier not to plane the fingerboard. I had my 66 Tele (rare 6 string short scale bass, didn't catch on) done recently by Bass gallery, using correct profile profile CS frets-retaining the divots between the frets. So much better when I got it back. No buzzing, no playing around worn areas.

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Guys I can’t thank you enough for the responses. Quality stuff.

I think my Jazz bass is beyond another fret dress, perhaps I should’ve said this earlier, so I think I’m gonna go for the refret. And whilst I may have one eye on its value I don’t think I’ll ever sell it. I appreciate the comments regarding these two points.

I just wish I’d never had the Floyd Rose trem fitted..., I’m joking, I’m joking 😁

 

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6 hours ago, mike f said:

Great responses. Thank you

bassbiscuits I’m in Cheshire. Thinking of taking it to Jon Shuker

Had the neck vintage gloss finished by Jon last year. As it was a one piece maple it had to be refretted. He did a great job on it, didn’t go original but went for stainless as I prefer them on my PDN Ray.

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Contemplating this very same thing with my 77 Jazz which has binding. The relacquer for the maple board ( which will presumably be required, and it has lots of "character" I'll be sorry to lose ) is the only thing holding me back, but I expect I will take the plunge in the new year. 

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Is it insane to suggest a spare neck to "play" and keep the old one in case you want to return it to original spec?

Obviously it may be more costly than a refret.

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15 minutes ago, Mokl said:

Contemplating this very same thing with my 77 Jazz which has binding. The relacquer for the maple board ( which will presumably be required, and it has lots of "character" I'll be sorry to lose ) is the only thing holding me back, but I expect I will take the plunge in the new year. 

Steve Curtis said he has a method for removing and replacing the frets without needing to re-lacquer the board (all my Rics have lacquered boards, obviously), thus keeping it feeling as original as possible. https://www.theguitarrepairworkshop.com


 

 

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Another vote for the refret option if it has come to that.  As mentioned I definitely recommend getting an experienced repair person/lutheir to tackle it, preferably one that comes recommended from someone you trust. I had my '73 Jazz refretted a good while ago now, and whilst it plays great, it wasn't the neatest job. I was younger and less experienced then though, the "repairman" wouldn't be getting away with that these days! 👊🏽

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8 hours ago, acidbass said:

I'd say get it done.  Original frets don't add much value to a bass IMO, not in the same way an original finish or pickups etc does.  I think of them as a necessary replacement at some point in the life of a bass, similar to strings.

If you had a classic car you could not fit OE tyres.

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