Nibs or No Nibs, which do you prefer?

Do you prefer a Gibson with fret nibs or without fret nibs?

  • With fret nibs

    Votes: 69 52.3%
  • Without fret nibs

    Votes: 26 19.7%
  • No preference

    Votes: 37 28.0%

  • Total voters
    132

DBDM

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If your binding has nibs does it help prevent fret sprout? Or would the nibs just hide the problem,
.
Just hides. Wood shrinks, steel does not. Since the ends of the frets are still in the same spot, usually the steel does not poke through the binding.
 

kakerlak

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I'll just add, one of the all-time handsomest looks is an L-5 fretboard with the multi-ply binding sitting under the frets and that outer band capping them off with nibs.

I've never had one of the recent USA Gibsons in hand to know first-hand, but the fretboard binding looks really thick on the ones in the pink binding era, to the point that I wonder if the nibs would feel silly.
 

E.T.

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Nibs all the way- in winter here it dries out something chronic, nibless guitars get fret sprout and need dressing or avoiding until spring. Playing is fun until every fret end turns into a tiny little knife..
 

Wise Guy

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Love the nibs. But also love my Explorer with no nibs...hmmm
 

Adinol

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Yeah, I know, the results are what matters and Gibson's fretwork does the job and gives excellent playability. But I don't think they deliver the best type of fretwork in general. Just my opinion.
You are 100% right. Before they were plek-ing the frets they would deliver guitars with very flat frets. I guess they would save time on the crowning process. Now with the plek machine the frets I see are just out of the plek, with all the microscopic tool marks that make the frets dull. The frets need to go through polishing ab buffing. Interestingly, I recently bought a plek'd LP Special that also had flat frets so I had to recrown those. And I have a 335 on layaway that was plek'd so much that they look like they've already been through a level and crown repair service. I like other things about that 335 so I'll end up buying it.

Nibs all the way- in winter here it dries out something chronic, nibless guitars get fret sprout and need dressing or avoiding until spring. Playing is fun until every fret end turns into a tiny little knife..
The winter is a good time to take care of those fret ends, before the wood expands.
 

cmjohnson

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I have yet to be impressed to any degree worth mentioning by instruments that had been plek'ed. I'll compare my fretwork to any Plek job, any time, any place. But I've been doing it a long time and I've learned every trick of the trade.

Plek can do an excellent job if the operator knows his business. But I don't think it can beat a pro level job done by a detail obsessed maniac such as myself.

I've seen more than one plek job that could be improved by a half-hearted grind and polish job.
 

moreles

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A bound, nibbed fretboard is almost certain and unarguably more functional than an unbound fretboard, for obvious reasons. It's just smoother and lacks slots or fret ends in a location where smoother is better. But, of course, not all nib jobs are well done, particularly as craftsmanship is replaced by robotic construction, and skilled handwork -- nibs, nut slots, etc. -- is a vanishing skillset. Coillings electrics have bound necks without nibs, and this seems to me the ideal balance, as the fret ends are beautifully rounded and smooth, and the b inding has an amazing feel. A great unbound neck can be wonderful -- but bound is even better!
 

cmjohnson

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Play one of my unbound necks and you'll retract that last statement. It's my habit to treat unbound fingerboards as if they are bound. I nip back the tangs and fill in the fret slots with color matching filler. (Usually wood dust of the same species.) I then use gap filling CA glue to create a tiny transition between fret and board at the contact point, and the way I finish my frets you feel only smoothly rounded bumps and NEVER any trace of a sharp edge.

I don't consider a bound board with nibs, where sometimes a gap occurs between the nib and a fret that can trap an errant E string, to be very "functional". To me that's a goof that needs fixing.

And as has been mentioned, if you take your bound, nibbed Gibson into a drier climate than the fingerboard is acclimated to, the board will shrink, the frets won't, and that'll in some cases have the effect of loosening the binding, leading to cracks and even binding separation. This is basically never going to happen if the fret ends overlap over the binding.
 

jcsk8

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Acorrding to some answers seems to me that some people are mistaken fret nibs with fretboard biding.
I love biding, but I don´t like fret nibs. Problems in a long term.
 

keys88

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Fret sprout is a misnomer, as the frets are not actually "sprouting." It is really fretboard shrink. So, when the board shrinks it is lulling the binbding along with it, but the frets prevent the parts of the binding touching fret ends to pull closer, so the binding can get cracked and separated from the board at the frets. When this is severe you can actually feel the wavy humps along the binding. Typically there are little cracks under teh nibs, where the fret tangs are butted against the binding. Those same cracks can happen without nibs.
Yeah, that's why I was wondering. Since the binding contracts with the wood, but the frets obviously don't, it seems like the nibs could be problematic in cases of fret sprout. I'm sure it would have to be pretty severe to bubble or crack the binding. But I have seen pretty bad fret sprout before. I've played a couple pawn shop guitars that were like cheese graters.
 

Duane_the_tub

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I don't pay them any mind whatsoever, so I have to think I wouldn't care one bit if they weren't there.
 

cortland1977

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nibs for sure but if you re-fret, you will have a very hard time trying to convince anyone to keep the nibs. So, nibs it is until refret!
 

Adinol

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I have yet to be impressed to any degree worth mentioning by instruments that had been plek'ed...

Plek can do an excellent job if the operator knows his business. But I don't think it can beat a pro level job done by a detail obsessed maniac such as myself...
You know... now that you've mentioned it... I have to say I agree with you 100%. I keep looking at those plek'd Gibsons and I'm just not impressed. Today I just sent a $5000+ acoustic Gibson back to the factory because the plek machine plek'd seven frets off center.

Have a look...

plek.jpeg


Not to mention this guitar came with a QC certificate, signed and all that.

I think the plek machine is like CCTV... it gives people a false sense of security. "Oh, now that we have the state of the art security system in our store, we no longer have to watch for thieves." Yeah, right.

Play one of my unbound necks and you'll retract that last statement. It's my habit to treat unbound fingerboards as if they are bound. I nip back the tangs and fill in the fret slots with color matching filler. (Usually wood dust of the same species.) I then use gap filling CA glue to create a tiny transition between fret and board at the contact point, and the way I finish my frets you feel only smoothly rounded bumps and NEVER any trace of a sharp edge.
The more I read your posts the more I feel that I would really enjoy your company at the work bench. When people are skilled and enjoy their work it really shows and players can feel the difference.

I still think that some nibbed fret come out well made. I don't think Gibson put in more time into those well made boards, I just think they are the result of chance. I've seen too many high end, overpriced, Gibson guitars that had very sloppy workmanship, just like that acoustic Firebird that I sent back to them earlier today. It is not the first expensive guitar that I've sent back to the factory.

Look at the board around this fret...

fret.jpeg
 

blee57

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Makes no Difference to me as long as the Nibs don't catch the High E and believe me, I've had a couple I got rid of because of that problem. OR, as long as the re-fret work is done properly, with well polished and rounded ends.
1920 Wurlitzer Mandolin Restored and Re-Fretted. Very Nice
1955 Gibson LP Custom Black Beauty. Re-Fretted. Bought from Original owner estate. Original Case. Very Nice.Like New.
1952 Gibson LP Goldtop CS RI.Upgraded Wrap Tail Bridge. Nibs
1954 Gibson LP Goldtop CS RI.Upgraded to Bumble Bee Caps Nibs
1957 Gibson LP Goldtop CS RI. Original Gibson Build w/two piece flame top under the gold top. Nibs
1954 Gibson LP Custom CS RI w/ Bigsby Nibs
1954 Gibson LP Custom CS RI. Nibs
1964 Gibson SG Special. Original Case, Original sales receipt Case Key and hang tag. Re-Fretted. Very Nice
1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom CS RI. Nibs
1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom CS RI. Nibs, Three Pickups.
1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop. Rare Build. Powder Blue. Custom shops says one off for customer. Nice fat neck.nibs. Nickel Hardware w/ Cream plastics. I bought it new of ebay. Seller ordered and didn't like the baseball bat neck.
I Do!
1958 Gibson Les Paul CS RI Lemon Flame top. Nibs. Beautiful
1958 Gibson Les Paul CS RI Flame top Light CherrySunburst, Nibs, Upgraded Pickups Doyles Coils Cream Bobbins. Beautiful
1958 Gibson Les Paul CS RI Plain Top Cherry Sunburst Friggen awesome guitar. Aged. Nibs
1959 Gibson Les Paul CS RI Flame Top, Murphy Aged. Awesome Vintage Cherry Sunburst Nibs
1960 Gibson Les Paul CS RI Flame Top Cherry Sunburst. 1 of 25 Special Run Nibs
1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Original. Embossed Gibson Logo Pick up caps. Re-fret. Like new. Awesome Guitar.
1971 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Original Nibs. Awesome guitar
1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Original Nibs. Awesome guitar
1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Original Nibs. Ditto
2010 Gibson Les Paul CS RI. Pro. Pelham Blue, Cream/Nickle. Beautiful Guitar and Player. Nibs. Coil tap Pots.
2010 Gibson ES335 TS Light Flame. Nibs
Just as many Gibson Acoustics, Several Fender Tele's, 52 Ri Butterscotch, 73 original Blonde Maple FB, 52 Reliced CS, Red w/Maple FB. 64 Strat w/Rosewood FB Olympic White.

What can I say, I like Gibs with or without Nibs, I just Like Gibs..
 

Adinol

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...What can I say, I like Gibs with or without Nibs, I just Like Gibs..
Wow! I can see that.

I like Gibson, too, so I was wondering if you have any issues with their infamous QC issues.
 

mikeSF

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always thought they looked kinda dumb/cheap - prefer no nibs. Gimme a full honest fret all the way across, thank you.
 

theycallmegio

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I recognize that it doesn’t matter but I prefer the nibs. It’s a special touch that Gibson puts on their guitars and I don’t see them anywhere else.
 


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