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Thread: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

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    Registered User Paulrb51's Avatar
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    Default Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Hi all. I have a 1924 A2z that I am thinking of refretting with larger frets for ease of playing and comfort. Is that likely to be a problem down the road should I decide to sell it at some point? Thanks for your thoughts.

    Paul

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    I have an AJr from 1924. The original frets were so worn even regular mandolin frets made a huge difference, and I'm very happy with how it plays now.

    But if you really like big frets, it's your mandolin.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    There will always be certain buyers who will not consider an instrument unless it is in 98.999% original condition, whether it is playable or not.
    My response to them is "do you want to play it or just admire it?"
    Something George Gruhn has said many times over: "You can keep the original tires on a '64 Corvette, but you won't be able to drive it."

    A well done fret job will greatly improve the playability of your instrument, and most buyers will prefer an instrument that plays easily.
    For those who insist on worn out original frets and cobbled up original nuts that no longer perform their intended function; the blazes with them. Another buyer will come along.

    I am back and forth in my preference on the old Gibsons. I feel the best choices are .053" wide x .037" high fretwire and .080" x .040" wire. The 80 x 40's are a little easier to play, the 53 x 37's have a bit more of the old-time look, but if well installed will still play quite well. I wouldn't go any larger than the 80 x 40's.

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    My preference is for the tall but narrow EVO mandolin wire; not a fan of oversized banjo or guitar wire for mandolins. The height is fine, but is all the extra mass that I don't like. I like the EVO mandolin size so much that I put it on one of my Les Pauls....

    Also remember that those original half paperclip frets are approx. .013" tang slots, so they will need to be opened up a bit for modern .022".

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Fretboard leveling as part of a re-fret has been part of the job on 2 different mandolins..
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    I'm torn on this topic, especially the ease of play concept. I have big frets on my A3 - always have. When I've bought other Gibson a-models; however, I quite like the original fretwire. I actually had narrow stainless put on one and liked those a lot! (subsequently sold; however.)

    You can always swap back! I may actually do that one day. That said, I've played on the big frets for 35 years.

    f-d
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    Registered User Paulrb51's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Thanks all for the very helpful replies!

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    Registered User mswilks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    There will always be certain buyers who will not consider an instrument unless it is in 98.999% original condition, whether it is playable or not.
    My response to them is "do you want to play it or just admire it?"

    Something George Gruhn has said many times over: "You can keep the original tires on a '64 Corvette, but you won't be able to drive it."
    One of my friends who is a long-time vintage dealer refers to these people as the ICP (I Can't Play) types. He doesn't have a lot of patience with them.

    I have gotten to where I value playability a good bit more than originality if the originality is keeping me from playing something...

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  15. #9

    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    I am in the ICP camp but have done several refrets. My thought is that the mandolin is small and the scale is short, so small frets
    are in order. Here is a cut from guitarplayer.
    Bigger frets mean bigger tone, and that sounds like something we'd all want. While larger frets do seem to result in a rounder tone, perhaps with increased sustain too, they also yield a somewhat less precise note than narrower frets – at least as examined “under the microscope.”
    Good players play in tune with their touch. I tend to crush and bend with my touch and sound more sour as frets get taller.

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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Even with larger frets, won’t it will still have a flat fretboard and a narrow nut? I have a Kentucky KM900 with a flat fretboard, small frets and narrow nut and it just took longer to get used to. Although that darn Florida clicking is an ever present annoyance.

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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    I sent Gail Hester my 1924 A2Z, and she suggested a refret with bigger frets. We discussed it at the time, and decided that any loss in value due to loss of originality was worth it for easier playing, and it is likely that a future buyer, if any, would appreciate the bigger frets, too.

    I don't really like owning a collectible mandolin because I have to think about things like. But it is not *that* collectible. It's not like they only made 5 or 10 of these.

    I am very happy with that decision. t came back to me like a way better version of the same instrument, but that was probably more due to the setup magic she did than the new frets. But it was much more pleasant to play afterward!

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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    I’m with Mr Condino on the one. My Rigel has the larger banjo frets as did my Silverangel econo, and those mandolins are very playable, sound great, etc. But my Kelley A5 has the taller but narrow EVO gold, and I’m sold…

    I’m in the “make the thing playable and how you like it, then wale on it” camp, FWIW.

    Also, as an aside, the Kelley is sounding exceptionally good today. Just don’t want to put it down. Was in tune when I picked it up and the tone is amazing. Must be the perfect temp/humidity in the house today
    Last edited by CES; Jul-31-2021 at 1:38pm.

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  23. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A2Z refret with larger frets??

    Not a fan of the larger frets but I am a fan of refretting when necessary with whatever you prefer. Collectors who don't care about playability? It makes little sense. Reminds me of the seller who tout that their mandolins have original strings. And, of course, look at all the violins by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, etc. which are completely original. Very few and those are probably rarely played.
    Jim

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