Have most of the original bursts been refretted?

InTheEvening

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So I had an odd question, and feel free to link me to a thread if this has been discussed. I can’t seem to find a straight forward answer in google.

Was recently watching Kirk Hammett playing his Greeny Les Paul and wondered was it ever refretted? Greeny, The Beast, Jimmy Page’s #1 and #2 Les Pauls and other famous bursts sustained decades of heavy use and playing, and are still played today. So is it safe to assume they have all been refretted over the years? Or perhaps frets last much longer than I expect. I’m curious to know because I’ve been seeing a growing popularity for stainless steel frets on guitars but if normal frets can last decades of regular use, then maybe SS isn’t that important.
 

Mr French

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They would have to been re-fretted and with top notch setup. The guitar is their tool and livelihood just like a semi trailer would be to transport goods.

I would like to know is how many guitars these artist own? Surely is more than what they've taken on tour. I'm sure Jimmy Page owns 10 or more of his double necks but only toured with the best ones from his collection.
 

InTheEvening

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It depends on how you play. If you play cleanly at the fret with minimal pressure, frets (along with the joints in your hand) will last a long time. If you play with a deathgrip ….
That makes sense. And I’ve always assumed Jimmy had a fairly light touch from close up videos I’ve seen of him playing and that he uses lighter gauge strings. So it’s quite possible his Les Paul still has the original frets.
Greeny wasn't re-fretted when Gary had it (did get a neck reset though!!LOL) . "Stripe" was.
I heard about the headstock break. That guitar has truly seen it all lol. I asked on TGP and someone mentioned seeing close up pics of Greeny and notes no binding nibs and the frets over the binding so it’s possible that had a refret or the nibs just wore out.
They would have to been re-fretted and with top notch setup. The guitar is their tool and livelihood just like a semi trailer would be to transport goods.

I would like to know is how many guitars these artist own? Surely is more than what they've taken on tour. I'm sure Jimmy Page owns 10 or more of his double necks but only toured with the best ones from his collection.
Interesting though. The amount of money and resources they have to put toward their craft, having multiple backups and examples makes sense. I do believe Jimmy mostly stuck to his #1 and 2 Lesters, but they may have been the best examples among the many Les Pauls he likely had and kept.
 

Dilver

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If they’re going to be played, they’ll need to be refretted eventually. Just like vintage cars usually don’t have original tires.
 

cooljuk

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I've often wondered why folks care about original frets on vintage instruments. Car collectors don't look for original tires or brake pads.

I had a customer very proud of the original strings on a 60s Strat. That's just neglect!
 

eric ernest

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I've often wondered why folks care about original frets on vintage instruments.
Honestly, a large part of the ethos surrounding vintage guitars was 100% originally manufactured by vintage guitar dealers. When they can, they have over emphasized the importance of anything they can to increase the price of an instrument, or, make it "seem" more desirable.

Ever notice some dealers say the same hackneyed crap about EVERY guitar? My personal favorite was a vintage dealer that some years ago often said, "Perfect neck that fits right in your hand." :laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:

The top dumbest?

"The longer the tale, the longer the sale."

This means a dealer can default to buying only near mint guitars. Upside? They don't have to exert any effort to get the guitar ready to sell. That includes setting it up, or even tuning it. Then milk it for 2X or 3X $$$.

In 30+ years I have watched thousands of guitars at guitar shows change hands (dealer to dealer) that were never plugged in, or even tuned. Tell me I'm wrong....

Don't even get me started on the "investment" angle....I wont shut up. :p

That's not to suggest I haven't been guilty of the same stupidity...it's a hard temptation to resist. (But I do try to edit myself!!!!!!!)

Private sellers also trade in hyperbole. Private sellers usually manufacture the importance of "ownership" or unimportant history of the guitar.
 
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goldtop0

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Case in point was when I went to the Arlington vintage show 11 years ago and played many '57-'60 bursts and GTs maybe 15 or so overall.
Some of the bursts had not been refretted and that was let down for me in that I couldn't play them as per normal with bends etc. I asked Tom Wittrock at the time about this anomaly and he said it made no difference to the the value if refretted, as has been said above, like putting new tyres on a vintage car that you're driving.
To be honest I find the whole 'burst' thing to be tedious as a lot of it is mythological BS. However a lot of us wouldn't be here on the forum and I wouldn't have met so many good likeminded guitar lovers if it wasn't for all the hype and activity around these instruments.
 
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Liam

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I think Greeny has most likely been refretted. I haven't seen the guitar in a long while, but even back then, they seemed to have far too much life left in them to be the originals. Nice fret job if it had been done though. In my opinion really nothing that isn't pretty outstanding about that guitar, despite the repair work and other idiosyncrasies. I know all the value is in its history and provenance, but it's a hell of a nice guitar.

Page does have a really light touch, and used very light strings with very low action last time I played a guitar that had been set up to his preference. (Unplayably light and low for me). I bet frets last him absolutely ages, which would work well with his reputation for avoiding unnecessary expenditure. But could they have lasted 50 years of on-and-off professional use? I doubt it very much. Will it affect value? Wouldn't have thought so.

Of my 4 50's Les Paul Juniors and Special, all came with original frets. 2 of them needed new frets immediately (thin pre-59 frets), one of them is low but playable ('59 bigger frets), and one of them will take at least one more "level and re-crown" (thin frets). They are all nice guitars, but the 2 that needed frets immediately are the real featherweight tone monsters of the bunch. I bet similar is true of sunburst Les Paul standard models of the era.

Liam
 

Duane_the_tub

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Greeny still has nibs. Page's No. 1 does not.

@eric ernest had some nice pics that showed them at full res, here is a lower res pic from Google Image:

2058ef3655560272bd73e5912c66175f.jpg


14685566726_705b1a0a2e_b.jpg


The lack of nibs on Page's could be clearly seen when it was on display at The Met in NYC:

de59a199ade27dc2143caadb50064d1b.jpg
 

InTheEvening

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I will take a stab at this one!
Because they don't play the guitar?
That’s gotta be it. I usually consider a recent refret to be a huge bonus as I know I’ll get more playing time out of it before it needs another refret done. Seems silly to devalue a guitar for that, especially if the original frets are unplayable.
Case in point was when I went to the Arlington vintage show 11 years ago and played many '57-'60 bursts and GTs maybe 15 or so overall.
Some of the bursts had not been refretted and that was let down for me in that I couldn't play them as per normal with bends etc. I asked Tom Wittrock at the time about this anomaly and he said it made no difference to the the value if refretted, as has been said above, like putting new tyres on a vintage car that you're driving.
To be honest I find the whole 'burst' thing to be tedious as a lot of it is mythological BS. However a lot of us wouldn't be here on the forum and I wouldn't have met so many good likeminded guitar lovers if it wasn't for all the hype and activity around these instruments.
Glad to hear it makes no difference to collectors. I know for regular players it makes no difference but I assumed for the collectors that leave these guitars in glass cases or hidden away, a refret would drop the value. Well said! I’m not super into bursts, more of an LP Custom guy but the cool community and Les Paul models to come from it is truly awesome.
I think Greeny has most likely been refretted. I haven't seen the guitar in a long while, but even back then, they seemed to have far too much life left in them to be the originals. Nice fret job if it had been done though. In my opinion really nothing that isn't pretty outstanding about that guitar, despite the repair work and other idiosyncrasies. I know all the value is in its history and provenance, but it's a hell of a nice guitar.

Page does have a really light touch, and used very light strings with very low action last time I played a guitar that had been set up to his preference. (Unplayably light and low for me). I bet frets last him absolutely ages, which would work well with his reputation for avoiding unnecessary expenditure. But could they have lasted 50 years of on-and-off professional use? I doubt it very much. Will it affect value? Wouldn't have thought so.

Of my 4 50's Les Paul Juniors and Special, all came with original frets. 2 of them needed new frets immediately (thin pre-59 frets), one of them is low but playable ('59 bigger frets), and one of them will take at least one more "level and re-crown" (thin frets). They are all nice guitars, but the 2 that needed frets immediately are the real featherweight tone monsters of the bunch. I bet similar is true of sunburst Les Paul standard models of the era.

Liam
Was thinking that about Page, always heard he used light strings and like a low action with a slimmer neck. His set up is actually my ideal as I like the same things. Slinky feel, light strings, low action and slim neck work best for me. Might explain why my most heavily used guitars show minimal fret wear if any.

Interesting thought and it makes sense. The tone monsters get more play time and fret wear as a result.

Greeny still has nibs. Page's No. 1 does not.

@eric ernest had some nice pics that showed them at full res, here is a lower res pic from Google Image:

View attachment 618293

View attachment 618294

The lack of nibs on Page's could be clearly seen when it was on display at The Met in NYC:

View attachment 618295
Wow! Picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks for sharing these. Interesting to see as I would have thought with Page’s light touch and his #1 being mostly in retirement and Greeny being in active use, it would be the reverse and Greeny would have had the refret. Wish I knew about that exhibit when it happened, still kicking myself for not taking the trip to see it when it was going on but learned about it long after it had happened.
 

jwinger

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I think there would be very few well played examples that haven't been refretted at least once by now. And if they haven't they probably play and sound somewhat below their best!
 

Johnnyslim

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Frets need changing sooner or later. As Eric mentioned, I do not understand the "original condition" we received it. I played a very well known burst a few years ago and I had my 1952 conversion with me. This well known burst was, at that time, listed over $400k (eventually sold but well under that price). No kidding, two tuners were frozen, two knobs were froze, the toggle switch was horribly loose and the bridge pickup was cockyeyed in the ring. The action was awful and, in my opinion, the guitar was unplayable. My conversion has been played every day, every rehearsal and every gig so it was in top notch form. It blew this burst out of the shop and the employees agreed. If you have a $400K burst for sale and you will allow customers to play it...make it playable! I had the playability and tone that day but the burst had the $$$. I am okay with that.
 

bluesoul

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I usually consider a recent refret to be a huge bonus
Absolutely! I have a few vintage strats....I bought them to play! A pro refret is a bonus for sure. I figure if I buy a well used guitar and it has not been refretted...it is going to need a fret job! Often times a sellers discription of "lots of life left in the original frets".....= refret :)
 

Great R8

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With each refret, the tang and the barb dig deeper (perhaps wider) into the fretboard, it would only take two or three refrets to turn a one piece Brazilian board into a 22 piece. If I was a buyer (and player) of a vintage Gibson, this would be important to me.

Original frets will need changing at some point, but I would only want to change them once! Ideal scenario is buy with original frets, change them to tall SS frets. They will last a very long time, even if you wear down tall SS frets, you still have enough material to level the frets.
 

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