Refretting a Squier Vista Series Jagmaster
The Squier Vista Series Jagmaster is one of my favourite guitars. The Squier Vista series was made in Japan to very high standards and comprised around 4 models.
If you are going to do this remember that rosewood dust can be an irritant so wear a dust mask when sanding and cutting it.
This Jagmaster was brought to me for an upgrade but deperately needed a refret. You can see in the above picture how worn they were. A fret dress would have left too little metal so a refret was the only option. Note how dirty the board is (sorry Matt.) Dirt and corroded strings are a sure-fire way to wear away your frets prematurely.
The first step is to remove the nut. Chances are that this will need replacing as the new frets will be higher than the old worn ones. The first step is to score around it with a sharp knife so that the finish is not chipped when it’s removed.
The nut is loosened by tapping it forwards and backwards until the glue is broken. Then the nut is tapped out sideways.
The frets are removed using fret pullers. You can make your own pullers by grinding down the jaws of a pair of small pincers. The idea is to gently lift one end of the fret and then work along it, easing it out gently.
I was very lucky and the fretboard did not suffer any serious chipping. Here it is with all the frets removed.
The next step is to ensure that the neck is completely straight. I adjusted the truss rod until it was.
I measured the fretboard radius with a gauge, and then checked with my radiused block. It was a 7 1/4 inch radius.
I used the radiused block with sandpaper attached to ensure that the fretboard was true.
I then checked that the fret slots were clean with a slot-cutting file and deepened them if necessary. I vacuumed up the sawdust which can be an irritant.
Here is the fretboard ready to accept the new frets.
I use a wooden block to hold my fretwire. Each piece is cut oversize and it took about 120cm (4 feet) of fretwire in total.
The frets are overbent to ensure that they are tight down at the edges.
I used a Stewmac Jaws fret press to insert the fretwire but you can use a wooden block and a hammer. The frets over the neck heel were pressed in using my pillar drill.
Here is the neck with the frets in place and the ends roughly trimmed to size.
The next step is to chamfer the ends. I’m using a file in a PTFE block set at 30 degrees from vertical. I filed until the file just touched the edge of the fretboard.
Here is a closeup of the chamfered fret ends. The chamfered file leaved little nibs of fretwire sticking out which must be removed.
I used a diamond-coated steel to file the fret ends flush with the sides of the fretboard. Again, I filed until I just contacted the neck’s finish and stopped before any was removed.
In order to make the neck comfortable to play, I rounded the fret ends using a small file.
Here is a closeup of the finished fret ends.
The final step is to dress the frets. It shouldn’t be necessary to do much work here if the board preparation and fret fitting was precise.
Oh yes, and to fit and cut a new nut. I’ll post that too…