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Thread: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

  1. #1

    Default Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    I bought a used Loar 520 and the frets are noticeably worn. I am confident that I can replace them if I can figure out which fretwire to use? I have seen many like EVO 37080 and I can access that here in Canada, but I want to make sure about the tang on the fretwire being correct. Can anyone advise?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    Being confident, you could pull a wire and measure the existing tang.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Being confident, you could pull a wire and measure the existing tang.
    I could, but I would rather pull and refret. I have enough woodworking experience to know that even being careful, "stuff happens". It should be a standard known size? Most seem to sell .0195 but Jescar also lists this in 0.185" (and larger)

  4. #4
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    I realize this doesn't answer your question, but on new boards I use a 0.023" slot for EVO wire, and a slightly larger 0.025" slot for most other wire (for example Stew-Mac wire).

    Often with refrets you have to glue the wire in anyway, so I usually just buy the wire I want and then enlarge the slots if they are too small, and glue the frets in if they are a little big. If this is your first time re-fretting, I'd suggest getting the Stew-Mac book Fretwork Step by Step. Re-fretting can be considerably more challenging than fretting a new board, depending on what you encounter when you pull the frets.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    0.0185" is quite a narrow tang. I would be surprised to see a modern mandolin with a slot narrow enough to accommodate such a narrow tang.
    Most modern instruments require a tang size of at least 0.020".

    If this is your first fret job, I strongly recommend that you go to frets.com and read the articles on re-fretting several times. I also do not recommend EVO for beginners. It is somewhat resistant to crowning files.

    The only way to tell what is in there now is to pull a fret and measure both it and the slot. A feeler gauge is useful for measuring slot width.

    I generally use Stew-mac wire for refrets. It is about 0.022". By the time you clean out the slots, a tang of this size will work in most instruments, especially if you knock the square corners off the back of the tang with a file before you drive the frets.

    Remember, you can knock the barbs down on a tight fitting fret in a few seconds. However, if a fret is loose, you either have to crimp the tang with a special tool [available from Stew-mac, but expensive]; or knock barbs into the back of the tang with a cold chisel [the old fashioned way], which is not much fun to do.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    When in doubt, I pull the last fret and measure it. A couple of times, the client has kept the instrument with the missing fret until I acquired the exact fretwire. I've never used such a device but I recall stewmac having a device for thinning the tang. The teeth are gone so I guess you'd use glue in the fretting process -- that I have done but its not a process that I'm well practiced at.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    The Stew-mac tool can be used either to compress the barbs to aid a fit into a narrow slot, or to crimp the tang to widen it for a loose fitting fret.
    It works.

    I rarely use the compression function except for a fingerboard extension, but use the expansion function often, especially on old rosewood fingerboards.

    An invaluable tool for a professional shop, but an expensive tool that may not be necessary for a hobbyist.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    I avoid doing refrets whenever possible. It is very hard to make money doing them, but I guess that's true of most lutherie jobs.
    If making money is not the plan, then plan to buy the right tools and take it slowly.

    Some of the right tools you might need to have on hand include:
    A good pair of flat-ground fret pulling pliers, I have these:
    https://www.philadelphialuthiertools...est-available/

    Some Teflon strips in .020" thick. If you get really awful tear-out, you can put these strips in the fret slot, fill with ebony/rosewood dust and CA glue, and "cast" a new fret slot into place.

    A soldering iron with a screwdriver tip, then file a notch in the screwdriver tip. This allows you to nestle it over the fret and makes it more secure so you can heat the fret with minimal collateral damage to the fretboard from slippage, and minimal collateral damage to binding (if present) due to taking too long to heat the fret. More contact area = faster heated fret, less heat transferred to the binding.

    A fret tang undercut nipper (only if you are refretting a bound fretboard, which, if you have the tang nipper, is easier in many ways).

    Some thin CA glue

    CA glue accelerator/kicker (not really optional)

    Razor blades (for scraping, or a nice cabinet scraper if you can roll a burr)

    Paste wax (to protect the board) - or a black crayon in a pinch

    A radiused, or at the very least, flat edge of a nice 18" level ground flat

    Stickyback sandpaper in 120, 240, 320, 400, 600, 1500, 2500 grit (you can skip 1500 and 2500 if you want)

    Fine flat or triangle file

    Hook scraper made out of a .020" feeler gauge or the Stew-Mac fret slot cleaner tool

    Masking tape

    After all that, you almost certainly need (or want) a new nut, since either the height is dramatically different, or maybe the nut was just crap to begin with, which they usually are. So all the nut slotting files that you'll usually need.

    That's at least $200 of materials by my count. That's a bare minimum, I think. You can do it with less, but I wouldn't want to.

    We haven't started talking about radiused cauls, buffing/polishing, crowning tools, fret masks, deadblow hammers, etc. Most of that is optional, but handy to have. And probably a heck of a lot more that I haven't mentioned.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Tang Width on a Loar 520 for new frets

    I find that I enjoy refrets. Without actually discussing price (I won't), its a matter of making the job worthwhile for you. Charge what makes the job good business sense. If the time it takes for you to do a job you consider decent exceeds the value of your time/temperament, don't do them for business. I don't do neck resets. I can but I'm not skilled to make them profitable and I know others who are. I also turn away quite a few jobs involving cosmetic damage -- for temperament reasons. As far as refretting tools, they get collected over time and get selected by your style of refretting and what ever the immediate needs of the jobs you decide to take on. I really enjoy fretwork but I've invested a lot of time doing it at the expense of not learning many other things. I still get thrown a curve now and then.

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