the aim here is to add material to the occasional 1-2 short frets, without sacrificing removing material from the taller - equal frets. One option would be to try and remove the fret, followed by some form of shimming. However, since it does not justify against the cost of bringing the guitar to the tech who can replace some frets for 10 bucks/fret, we are looking for a new way that it would be non-intrusive, non-invasive, and cheaper than 20 bucks.
So the idea is adding material to the fret. I have done already an attempt with ordinary epoxy putty and didn't prove strong enough. It was OK for chords, but bends destroyed it in one day. My next experiment will be with Permatex Cold Weld metal epoxy. So the next attempt will be with the strongest metal epoxy I found. I'll let you know!
Good luck with that! My guess is that rebuilding the frets will become a weekly job!
its the first two frets, no huge bends on those. I just tested this stuff on scrap aluminium and it *is* strong, as long as I am ultra careful to truly honour the 50% equal amounts of both the resin and the hardener. Failing to do that, the whole result is poor. It seems so much stronger than common epoxy. If I could coat the resulting material with some slippery substance (preferably looking like nickel) that would be cool. This epoxy is ultra slow, needs 24 hours to start working on the end result. Lets see, I'll let you guys know. If this ends up as a failure, I'll bring the guitar to a new shop I found downtown, and I wanna test those guys if they are any good.
There are times where epoxy is perfect for guitar applications. I use a marine epoxy resin to coat fretless bass fingerboards. I actually have a project going now to do just that... Epoxy wood fillers are the bomb when filling the gaps in body\neck repairs that are going to be repainted. But on frets...
I have to give it to you for thinking out of the box on this one...Hell, you're outside the room hanging from the railing on this one... I think you'll find that pulling the two offending frets and installing a taller profile will be cleaner, easier and give you the results you want. It will also last you years versus months.
Clear epoxy resin, like West Systems or whoever is the predominant manufacturer in Greece, will allow you to slowly build up a thickness, but adhesion to the nickel, or stainless, of the base fret material is always going to be a problem. Especially with round wound strings. Look at it logically. You're taking a dissimilar material, designed to take abrasion, and rubbing a very abrasive round file (guitar string) against it until it fails. And unlike a fretless fingerboard, you're concentrating the abrasion in a very narrow area...and doing consistently in just that one area.
Plus, if the tech will replace the frets for 10 bucks a pop, screw it, let him do it. A good metal substrate epoxy, like Belzona, is going to cost you more than that anyway, (unless you buy the cheap stuff, in which case all bets are off) and the service life out of the epoxy is going to be far less than that of a standard nickel fret. Based on the difference in durometer of the nickel and epoxy, you'll always be able to tell when those frets are making contact.
Pulling and installing a couple frets is not a feat of magic. Sure, there is a learning curve and certain tricks learned over the years will make the job easier. Epoxy seems easier out of the box. It's like an oil finish versus a hard lacquer finish. Anyone can apply oil. Lacquer is a lot more involved and time consuming. But over 20 years you only have to do it once.
One the bright side, once you get the whole epoxy fret thing down you'll be a whiz at it...every time you do it you'll get better...
Again, I have to ask...do you stay up at night to come up with this stuff?
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hey thanx! took notes of everything you wrote. It is about the known adventurous Carvin. I think that the epoxy thing is cool for repairs (as you said), on the guitar, car, house, but maybe not a good idea for frets. It is better to not do this experiment and minimize chances of further screwing the Carvin. I must learn to visit the tech anyway. I guess I'll store the 2-part epoxy metal glue for house/car repairs and forget the idea about the frets. I dont stay up at nights for this stuff, I like to sleep early in order to have fresh (often infeasible) ideas in the morning!
I have to admit, my first thought was not "will this repair hold up under duress?", but "will the repaired frets allow the string to sound the same, and sustain the same?". Having read your input on this forum for several years now, I have to believe that tonal output is paramount to you, and thus you should (slight stress on the "should" part) have planned a test rig where you could try the idea without possible damage to your real-world guitar.
But still and all, I do believe (like c1) that you tend to think "outside of the box", and there's (almost) never any harm in that.
I just did it to my Carvin, not the epoxy way, but the more ... traditional way. I modified my soldering iron to have some kind of groove in order to accept the fret. Then i heated up the two low frets. Removed them with a flush cutter (similar to fret pullers but unfortunately not perfect). The wood (ebony) chipped now matter how hard I tried not to. Then I covered the slots with some wood putty, and recreated the slots to accept the same frets. The putty worked as a shim for the tang and crown's base. Then I hammered down the frets as tight as I could. It gave some weird results, there was no correct radius, weird heights, I re-tried to hammer down the frets to eliminate inadequate fit. I noticed that the frets had lost their correct curvature. I pulled them out, recreated the radius, and hammered them down again. Now some local leveling was required, open notes were buzzing. I did that and finally it was close to perfect. We are talking about extremely low action here. The guitar does not buzz, even with light->moderate picking. However it still buzz with average picking. I can play sultans of swing with light picking, whereas previously it was impossible. The whole process resulted in very rough frets' edges and this needed some dressing as well.
Moral of the story : when severe twist exists in the neck (what I mean by that : 0.1mm relief between 1->24 frets on low E and zero on high E), then a refret is the simplest solution for this.
After some tests, I ended up using the Bison metal epoxy.
After 8 days the increase in clearance is not detectable. Sustain is good. At least I can play on the 1st fret, sultans of swing, ain't talking about love, stairway to heaven, without the fear of this awful buz.
After one year the fix shows signs of wear down. If the guitars frets were due for a level/dressing job I would definitely go that way, (and buy a 16" sanding block BTW). However this guitar is not yet in such need. So, I removed the epoxy fix and did a local fix with lead-free solder. Feels, sounds and looks better than before :