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Gibson and Flat Top Frets. WHY!?!

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  • Gibson and Flat Top Frets. WHY!?!

    I don't get why Gibson puts flat top frets on basically all of their guitars. Is there some reason for this that I've never heard of? It makes me feel like it's unfinished. It hampers slides. It feels funky as all hell. There's really no reason for them to be that way as a cost cutting means since most Gibsons are Plekked. Is it simply another Henry J. "innovation". I'm being dead serious here because I'd love to add an SG to my collection at some point but this is a total deal-killer and I can't seem to find any with normal frets. And unfortunately Epis don't feature a smooth neck joint like Gibbys.
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  • #2
    I have three Gibson's and no idea what you're talking about.

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    • #3
      It's not Heny J, they've been that way long before he had control of Gibson.

      The overly-leveled "schoolbus" frets have been something of a traditional for Gibson for some time, I'm not old enough to know how long. I'll assume it was a deliberate choice. This is the company that debuted the "fretless wonder" frets in the late '50's (super short and rather wide and flat). Gibson (and Ampeg) was a company intertwined with, and almost entirely dedicated to, jazz guitar, and I think this is a preference from jazz guitars at the time that held over as a Gibson aesthetic.

      It is also definitely a cost-cutting measure. It allows them to quickly install frets with no concern of how level they are installed (or how level the fretboard is) and then grind them down nice and even. Dressing? Crowning? Nope.

      My old Goldtop needed a refret and it plays better than ever with tall, well-dressed, well-crowned 6105's, I only wish I had had stainless ones installed.

      In the case of the OP, buy the SG and then have a pro go and round and crown the frets.

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      • #4
        Get and SG. You can always get new frets at some point. I love my SG. I don't GAS for an LP anymore. Someday, but not for the last several months since I got it.
        Guitars: 60th Anniversity Commemorative American Strat 2006, 2012 Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe, Washburn D25S Acoustic 1988 (MIJ)Effects: 535Q->TS7->DS-1-> GE7 EQ->MXR Carbon Copy->Phase 90->CE-3 -> -> Tiny Terror -> Vox Night Train Cab 1x12 with Greenback Also: Guitar Port, DOD Supra Distortion, EH Muff Fuzz, Vox DA5Good Dealings with rrancani, dcindc, CraigOrn, 98 les paul, kjutrain

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        • #5
          I have three Gibson's and no idea what you're talking about.


          Gibson is famous for their "school bus" or "train-track" frets, which are very flat across the top. A properly dressed fret is perfectly round with a single point of contact with the string.

          Their frets look like the bottom ones right out of the factory. I have no idea if this is different now that they plek, but like I said above, it's become part of the Gibson aesthetic.

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          • #6
            Gibson is famous for their "school bus" or "train-track" frets, which are very flat across the top. A properly dressed fret is perfectly round with a single point of contact with the string.

            Their frets look like the bottom ones right out of the factory. I have no idea if this is different now that they plek, but like I said above, it's become part of the Gibson aesthetic.



            other than having to adjust the bridge down a 1/2 fret, would flat top frets make any functional dif? personally, i like the feel of worn down flat frets.
            Originally Posted by Puckman


            I'd have to put "Goo" in there first, personally.

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            • #7
              Gibson is famous for their "school bus" or "train-track" frets, which are very flat across the top. A properly dressed fret is perfectly round with a single point of contact with the string.

              Their frets look like the bottom ones right out of the factory. I have no idea if this is different now that they plek, but like I said above, it's become part of the Gibson aesthetic.



              Wasn't that something from the 70's crap they built ? None of the new guitars I've played or owned were like that.

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              • #8
                other than having to adjust the bridge down a 1/2 fret, would flat top frets make any functional dif? personally, i like the feel of worn down flat frets.


                There are host of things that can be going on. But preference and playing style factor in as well.

                The smaller the contact area, the crisper and clearer the note rings. Consider trying to hit a crisp snare drum beat with a paint stirrer.

                Plus, less resistance for smoother bending.

                And with taller frets, here is less of a tendency to want to use too much pressure push the fret to the fretboard and make it go sharp. Many guitarist feel the play cleaner and more accurately with tall, crowned frets. That may or may not be a placebo effect.

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                • #9
                  Wasn't that something from the 70's crap they built ? None of the new guitars I've played or owned were like that.


                  That's an extreme example (I'm not wasting time making my own graphics), but illustrated my point. Still, the wide, flat-ish frets are part of the Gibson style. Like I said, I haven't kept up with how their plek'ed guitars look (I haven't had to buy a guitar in 12 years), but this is one of Gibson's own marketing shots...the frets are very flat and squared off.



                  Here's a relatively recent example of a LP Classic brand new from the store and then after it was professionally crowned, which is the difference between an assembly-line guitar made by an unskilled laborer and the detail work of a luthier. Looking at dozens of fret shots from gibson.com, the difference between production and Custom Shop fret dress is night and day.



                  Gibson actually recommends having their frets professionally stoned and crowned regularly in their manual.

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                  • #10
                    I don't get why Gibson puts flat top frets on basically all of their guitars. Is there some reason for this that I've never heard of? It makes me feel like it's unfinished. It hampers slides. It feels funky as all hell. There's really no reason for them to be that way as a cost cutting means since most Gibsons are Plekked. Is it simply another Henry J. "innovation". I'm being dead serious here because I'd love to add an SG to my collection at some point but this is a total deal-killer and I can't seem to find any with normal frets. And unfortunately Epis don't feature a smooth neck joint like Gibbys.


                    Ive bought alot of gibsons over the years. All had perfectly crowned frets. If you're coming across flat frets either thay are worn by the user or they were leveled and not crownes. you do find alot of old gibbys with flatter frets because thay havent been refretted yet. Refretting is much more expensive on bound necks and even more if want to retain the littel bumpe in the binding where the frets are. Gibson necks are freted in the factory before the binding is installed. The higher refret cost can be $400~500 and its why you see more of them around with worn frets. Not because thay come that way, its because of the refretting difficulty. The super jumbos do last longer so refretting isnt needed as often as a fender neck.

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                    • #11
                      The only Gibson that I had that had frets like, not train tracks, but railroad ties, was an SG Faded.
                      "No one ever goes to heaven deservingly
                      and no one ever goes to hell unwillingly."
                      -CS Lewis

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                      • #12
                        Every Gibson I've ever seen hanging in Guitar Center, brand new, had flat topped frets. I've even posted a similar question to the OP on more than one occasion, but I've come to the conclusion that it's what Gibson is best at: turning a cost-cutting maneuver into a 'feature.'
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                        • #13
                          And with taller frets, here is less of a tendency to want to use too much pressure push the fret to the fretboard and make it go sharp. Many guitarist feel the play cleaner and more accurately with tall, crowned frets. That may or may not be a placebo effect.


                          I think it's a very real effect. It at least makes you realize how little pressure you need when your fingers aren't pressing into the board. I actually think it helped my technique after refretting one of mine with tall, narrow frets.
                          Listen...

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                          • #14
                            Every Gibson I've ever seen hanging in Guitar Center, brand new, had flat topped frets. I've even posted a similar question to the OP on more than one occasion, but I've come to the conclusion that it's what Gibson is best at: turning a cost-cutting maneuver into a 'feature.'
                            Fender did it, too. It's just Leo was better at it.
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                            • #15
                              Can't comment on gibsons in general but the only time I have ever seen frets that round was after they were leveled / dressed at a shop on a guitar someone I know has. I've seen them rounded-ish, just not half circle or even close. What guitars are like that new?
                              Gibson is famous for their "school bus" or "train-track" frets, which are very flat across the top. A properly dressed fret is perfectly round with a single point of contact with the string.

                              Their frets look like the bottom ones right out of the factory. I have no idea if this is different now that they plek, but like I said above, it's become part of the Gibson aesthetic.

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