manchesterguitartech.co.ukmanchesterguitartech.co.uk

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.

The original frets were very worn

The original frets were very worn

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.

Scoring around the nut to ensure a clean removal

Scoring around the nut to ensure a clean removal

Especially the ends to break the finish

Especially the ends to break the finish

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.

Tap the nut to loosen it

Tap the nut to loosen it

Tap it forwards and backwards

Tap it forwards and backwards

And when loose from the side to remove it

And when loose from the side to remove it

The nut is loosened by tapping it forwards and backwards until the glue is broken. Then the nut is tapped out sideways.

Ease out the frets with fret pullers

Ease out the frets with fret pullers

These came out easily

These came out easily

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.

Showing the neck with all frets removed

The neck with all frets removed

I was very lucky and the fretboard did not suffer any serious chipping. Here it is with all the frets removed.

Use a straight edge to check the neck is straight

Use a straight edge to check the neck is straight

The next step is to ensure that the neck is completely straight. I adjusted the truss rod until it was.

Use a gauge to check the fretboard radius

Use a gauge to check the fretboard radius

And confirm with the radiused block

And confirm with the radiused block

I measured the fretboard radius with a gauge, and then checked with my radiused block. It was a 7 1/4 inch radius.

Sand the fretboard true

Sand the fretboard true

I used the radiused block with sandpaper attached to ensure that the fretboard was true.

Using a saw to clean the fret slots

Using a saw to clean the fret slots

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.

Clean fretboard ready for the new frets

Clean fretboard ready for the new frets

Here is the fretboard ready to accept the new frets.

All the frets cut to size and in the rack ready to fit

All the frets cut to size and in the rack ready to fit

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.

You should overbend the frets to ensure they lie snugly

You should overbend the frets to ensure they lie snugly

The frets are overbent to ensure that they are tight down at the edges.

Press the frets in with a Stewmac Jaws device

Press the frets in with a Stewmac Jaws device

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.

All the frets are now fitted and trimmed

All the frets are now fitted and trimmed

Here is the neck with the frets in place and the ends roughly trimmed to size.

Using an angled block to chamfer the fret ends

Using an angled block to chamfer the fret ends

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.

Close up of the fret ends

Close up of the fret ends

Here is a closeup of the chamfered fret ends. The chamfered file leaved little nibs of fretwire sticking out which must be removed.

Close up of the fret ends filed flush

Close up of the fret ends filed flush

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.

Using a small file to round the fret ends

Using a small file to round the fret ends

In order to make the neck comfortable to play, I rounded the fret ends using a small file.

Fret ends rounded and polished

Fret ends rounded and polished

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…

 

2 Comments on “Refretting a Squier Vista Series Jagmaster

  1. I attended a Luthier school in Snellville Ga. USA . 11 weeks course 8 hours a day,5 days a week. I appenticed at Atlanta Guitar Repair but,they couldn’t afford to bring me in as an Employee. I was just looking around the Internet to see if other Luthiers had “How to ” pages and what was they’re methods . I was taught the DAN ERLEWINE method as well as other “Tricks” and you .are pretty much doing his approch with this Fret -Job. Great website and information.. Gordy

  2. Here are some pics of my Vista…. the pickups seem some nameless things and the original vistas 96-97 didnt have black ones i think… dunno…If you can tell what are those pickups.See other pics too if you see something that doesnt belong to a CIJ Vista then let my know:).
    The body seems to be original vista with no swimming pool.the body screw holes woofd are grinie so i think it is original basswood etc….
    Hope you can helt me.
    I just wanna know how original my jagmaster Vidsta is.
    PICS:
    http://fotoalbum.ee/photos/ArtInts/sets/1249811
    Thank you very much!
    You can aswer here or mail me:
    Yk6rkja_kusti@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *