Gibson Historic Fret Wire

Discussion in 'Historics & Reissues' started by tdarian, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    I've seen several scattered references to Historic Fret Wire, and was pretty sure I'd figured out exactly what it was based upon measurements I took and other resources. Earlier today I exchanged correspondence over at TGP with member "Jescar". He confirmed that the current historic Fret Wire is Jescar FW45100, which is spec'ed to be .045 tall by .100 wide, and appears to have a fairly flatter eliptical crown.
    JESCAR: New Dimensions in Fret Wire: Choices

    Text of our exhange:

    Originally Posted by tdarian
    I'm assuming your TGP name is not coincidental and that you may know the answer to a question that I have. I'm trying to determine the exact fretwire used by the Gibson Custom Shop for the Historic series. I have a 2011 R7.

    I read a post (LesPaulForum) claiming that the wire was Jescar FW45100, which seems about right, but was hoping for a verification, as there are some adjacent sizes (FW47104 for example).

    Any idea?

    Thanks!

    Tom Darian

    Hi Tom,

    You are correct about the name Jescar. We do supply the fret wire to Gibson, and the wire for the Historics is the FW45100.

    If you ever have questions about fret wire I'll be glad to asset you. You can reach me here or Jeff@Jescar.com.

    Best regards,

    Jeff Silver


    I had Michael Tuttle, who had a rare break in the action, measure the frets on my 2011 Wildwood Spec R7 today and they complied with the FW45100 spec, with a catch, and another comment I should make about a conversation I had with another very well known fret specialist yesterday who said that Gibson installs the fret wire into the fret boards prior to the boards being affixed to the necks and prior to the Plek process, meaning that the Plek is shaving material off the top of the frets to make them perfectly level. So...the catch...is that in some spots of the neck, my frets were as low as .040 and I'm pretty sure I did not cause that wear...that was the Plek. As an aside, the board itself should be pre-leveled, but the binding/nibs construction makes Gibsons approach almost a requirement in a mass production setting for them I suppose.

    So anyway, the Historics are now using the Jescar FW45100, but the frets may not all fully comply with the height spec due to Pleking. Still, I thought Gibson did a pretty fair job with the fret work on the R7, even though I'd prefer a less flat crown and just a smidge more height in ideally a Stainless Steel fret. That size is represented in Jescar's FW47104SS.

    More to come in a week or so:D, but I hope for some this is useful information.

    BTW, Jescar is considered top shelf stuff, so kudos to Gibson.:)
     
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  2. nextlespaulhero

    nextlespaulhero Banned

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  3. 7gtop

    7gtop Premium Member

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    Would the stainless steel frets be pure, or a mixture with another metal.
    I also wonder what they would add or detract tonaly
    from the o.e. frets ?
     
  4. crompo

    crompo Senior Member

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    Don't think that .040 is that low.
     
  5. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    I'm 99% positive that SS frets are a mixture...SS is itself an alloy, I thought. Jescar does not specify in their lit that I posted above, other than "normal" frets are an 18% mixture and stainless is harder with EVO in between. I just think the SS wire has a "higher enough" Steel component to make a significant difference in wear characteristics.

    Some folks have claimed to hear a high frequency "ping" associated with Stainless Frets, but the more I've read on the topic the fewer detractors I'm finding and most folks claim that they do not hear any sonic arifacts, other than fret life and intonation that remains stable over time and preserves good tone.

    I could not hear a fret related tonal difference in the 4 guitars (so far) that I've had refretted with Stainless, and 3 of the 4 went up a step in fret size to boot. Certainly no ping, and I'm convinced that the skill of the luthier plays a huge role in all of this. I've got pure, clean ringing notes, and as good as PRS guitars are as they roll out of the factory, the set-up that came with the frets and bone nut took these guitars to new levels. Borderline "magic", and that was the luthier.

    I read an account where a guy put in SS frets in every other slot on a guitar to see if he or anyone else could hear a difference. Nada.

    When I bought my R7, it was with the clear understanding going in that it would not have it's N/S frets for long, although I've found the stock frets to be pretty good and the guitar seductively playable.

    You may encounter desenting opinions on this topic from folks who possess better or different hearing than I and many others do, and that's valid.

    I can't hear a Dog Whistle either, but it sure is fun to make the neighborhood dogs go all haywire at 2 in the morning!
     
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  6. crompo

    crompo Senior Member

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    I built a replica using stewmac fret wire 141.

    Wasn't sure about what fret heights should be so i measured some of my other guitars for reference.

    After fret levelling & crowning my replica frets were pretty close to .040"

    See attachment showing what i measured.

    not sure if anyone really cares though ??

    Wayne.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Ferro Picta Carota

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    Not sure what fret wire was used, bur my '81 LPC refretted with a larger size stainless steel is killer.

    Most my stock Gibsons, including Historics, are all low, wide, and with a flat crown.

    Refretted '81 LPC with large stainless steel.

    [​IMG]

    Stock SG standard

    [​IMG]
     
  8. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    That was a helpful chart! My R7 had frets as high as .045 and some as low as .040, but we did not measure every one...I could tell which ones were marginally shorter and we went right to the .040 spots. At refret, the board will be leveled before new frets are installed, so the frets should be functionally level when set in and all of the same height off the board, .047. Nibs will go of course. I came very very close to going with the same FW57110SS (6100 type) wire I have on other guitars but decided to stay in 6150ish land. Seemed right for the R7 and me.
     
  9. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    TattooedCarrot, that SS wire has a familiar look to it. :)
     
  10. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Ferro Picta Carota

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    1 person likes this.
  11. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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  12. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    Sorry to bring up this old post, but are those pictures of new Jescar FW45100 frets or something different?
     
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  13. 7gtop

    7gtop Premium Member

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    :applause:

    good question as I don't remember _____________ :laugh2:

    td __________ :hmm:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    The photos in my posts above are the Jescar FW47104 Stainless, (with rounded ends and no nibs).
     
  15. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    So slighty wider, slightly taller and rounder (less shoulders and top not as flat) than the 45100 wire.

    Does the 47104 feel sharper when sliding up an down strings?
    Why did you choose this wire?

    What gauage strings do you use?
     
  16. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    Jescar does not make the FW45100 (which is the stock Gibson Historic fret wire) in Stainless and I wanted stainless. The FW47104 was very close in raw dimension (Height/Width) to the stock FW45100 wire and it is commonly used, so I thought it was a safe bet.

    They are slightly wider, but feel moderately narrower. The crown of the fret is less flat in the contact area than the stock wire, imparting a different feel. They do not feel taller and there is no "speed bump" effect.

    I've been mostly using 10-46 ga strings, both Pyramid Nickel Classics and D'Addario XL-110s.
     
  17. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    thanks :thumb:
     
  18. Panhdlce

    Panhdlce Junior Member

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    Tom,
    Who does your fret & nut work?
     
  19. tdarian

    tdarian Premium Member

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    Michael Tuttle (www.bestfrets.com) did the work, and he is superb. As far as I know Michael is focusing solely on his builds and is not taking on repair/mod type work but it is always worth contacting him to see if he has room in his schedule.

    Tom
     
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