the X390 and a fret masher...

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the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:38 pm

the time has come to fix up this one...

i picked up this X390 a few years ago knowing it needed some repairs before it would be playable.
the pickups are original mmk75's, but the covers were missing. i have acquired some originals to replace the missing ones.
it is missing parts for the kahler string lock and the nut is in need of replacement. there was a nut in place when i received it, but it was itself a replacement and it was not glued in properly.
the bigger issue has always been the condition of the frets, mostly 1,2 & 3, but 4 & 5 have some damage too.
in addition to the frets, even the ebony has been dented and scratched

frets 1 & 2 have some huge dents

this is 1,2,3,4

4 & 5

6 & 7

and here at 11 & 12 almost no wear


i took the guitar to SFGuitarworks where they have a computerized machine (Plek) to do the fret level, dress and polish. it can work to 0.001" accuracy.

they will install a new handmade bone nut and repair/replace the string lock. then a full set-up. it should take a couple weeks to get it back since the shop is pretty busy all the time.

more pics when it returns home... Cool
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:52 pm

Good Gawd! Who was playing that thing, Godzilla?!
Hard to believe that the treble strings would gouge such bit divots. Was this perchance played lefty?

If not, the previous owner was one very dedicated cowboy with a vise for a hand.

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:33 pm

Body looks fine.

From experience pulling frets from a ebony fingerboard can cause bits to chip out(as can any board) but ebony particular due to the grain.

Looks like you should get away with a level, have done worse looking frets.

Had an X350 with no covers MMK 75's  but cream bobbins/flat poles as per your black 'ens. Covers are held on with double sided tape, why not it works.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:19 pm

So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian? Is there a technique, or is just being very careful "the go"? Would heating them up to defeat the glue have any affect? Or carefully sliding the tip of a very sharp blade down the frets length on both sides underneath?

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:12 pm

the plan is to work with the existing frets. they are quite large and so should allow plenty of room to level and dress.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by corsair on Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:49 pm

Yes, I realise that your frets are well good enough for a level and dress, eh; I was wondering about the tearing out that Damian was referring to! I had no trouble pulling the frets on my maple necked Avengers, i.e. no chipping and was just wondering!

God, that's a  pretty guitar - I do believe I like these more than the 350s; I think the pointy headstock does it for me on balance and that is a glorious shade of blue! You know, I gave one of those Kahler stringlocks away some years ago; it came on a guitar I'd bought and I replaced it with an OEM piece and then someone - perhaps on David Blairs' forum, so a very long time ago now - had need of one and I sent it on!
Are you going to have a play with repairing the finish on the headstock point?

I think the frets on my Vantage VA900 have had 4 dressings since I've owned it, and the last one will be the last on the OEM frets, eh; they are as low as whale-poo, but gee - what a delight to play that guitar is!

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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:01 am

corsair wrote:So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian? Is there a technique, or is just being very careful "the go"? Would heating them up to defeat the glue have any affect? Or carefully sliding the tip of a very sharp blade down the frets length on both sides underneath?

Fret pliers, fret/fingerboard protector, heat and great care
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:51 am

I'd have the worn frets replaced, rather than dress them all and therefore shorten all of your pickups.  If they make frets that large anymore?!
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:01 am

The Chad wrote: shorten all of your pickups. 
What do you mean Chad?

Your talking fractions here with the frets.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 am

If its done well, right.  But even then it's still taking it down past the deepest divot, which could cause a feel difference.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Westbone on Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:40 am

As per always it's all about the nut... Smile
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:43 pm

Laughing   I'm now expecting Barry to comment on that one...
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:11 pm

the guitar will be getting a new nut also.

i am not a fan of the giant sized frets, so reducing the size of all the frets in relation to the dented ones is not going to be a problem for me. there is also the issue damage to the finish on the sides of the neck if frets have to be replaced. that would probably raise the cost much more than necessary.

this is the only guitar i have given this high level of service. it is costly, but i couldn't do any of this work myself. it needed it. up to now, the guitar has been unplayable, it will probably become the best player in my collection.

to read about the Plek machine look ->here<-

the guy at the store asked a few questions in order to design the repair and setup;
-string gauge
-left hand style
-right hand style
-pick style
-string bender
-whammy bar pickle tickler
probably a few more i don't remember
the guy appeared to be very knowledgeable and competent

at the store;
i walk into a small front room, maybe 15'x15'. window to the street. counter at the back, workshop thru the doorway behind. there are at least 6 guitars sitting by the counter ready for pickup. there is already a customer with his guitar on the counter, discussing his repair job. they are almost finished. just after i enter, another guy comes in with an acoustic guitar over his shoulder. he looks like he lives on the street. he pulls out his guitar and starts telling the guy behind the counter about his problem with the bridge being too low. he just starts talking like nobody else was already there. the counter-guy says, "oh hi jeff," like this happens all the time. he picks up the guy's guitar and looks it over(a nice Alvarez) and says, let me go in the back and get you a shim. sets up the street guy and out the door he goes.

and without missing a beat, right back to the first guy like nothing happened. another minute with him and done.

had me out the door in about 10minutes. he had already found a whammy bar (changed the tip to black too) before i left.

the guitar should play like new when i get it back. Smile
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by The Chad on Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:25 pm

Sounds like a great place, Mike.  Most shops don't think to ask those questions.  Makes a big difference.  Dana Sutcliffe is this way, also.  He is a Master Luthier so this is not surprising.
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Re: the X390 and a fret masher...

Post by Barry on Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:21 pm

Westbone wrote:
corsair wrote:So how do you stop the ebony chipping when you remove the frets, Damian?...
Fret pliers, fret/fingerboard protector, heat and great care
My Parker PM20 has SS frets in its Ebony fret board.
I'm rather happy about that, even though the chances of my wearing through them is approximately the same as finding poo under my rocking horsey. What a Face

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