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Shaving Fingerboard Question..

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Many Gibson Acoustics have a thing where at the part of the fingerboard which overlaps the body, there is a raise in the fretboard.

Which causes a problem to a person with very low action.

Ive seen some old J200's where that area has been planed down to get it out of the way and it is obvious at the side binding there.


So it gets sanded or planed level but doesnt it ruin the Pearl inlay markers? What happens there?


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The 14th fret "hump" does not always require the removal of frets and a fingerboard levelling. It can be caused by bad setup (truss rod adjustment) or by the neck sinking into the body (neck reset time). A well setup, well built instrument will not have a 14th fret hump.


However, your question was about "shaving" or levelling the fingerboard and the effect on binding and inlays. Levelling an existing fingerboard can be done with inlays and binding in place. This is usually done while doing a refret. Remember, it is the frets that touch the strings, not the fingerboard. Although fingerboard shape and height will affect fret height and shape, they are levelled and shaped as well. The effect on the binding and inlays is minimal as you are doing a very fine sanding and those items polish up nicely.


Frets.com article

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On the rare occasions when a significant amount of the fretboard is removed during leveling, the luthier removes the inlays, levels, routs the inlay chambers a bit deeper, and re-installs the inlays.

This would have to be a fingerboard with a significant rollercoaster effect though wouldn't it JT? I did a neck reset and refret on my old Yamaha FG150. I did some serious leveling of that fingerboard but never removed enough material to worry about the inlays. Now if they were MOP or abalone on a J200 I would reconsider that! :)

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Usually, a fret job shaving down the frets can get quite a bit of it out of the way.


If it's too much to be handled by shaving down the frets, I would think it's time to look at the whole thing and explore other options. I think shaving enough of the fretbaord to be worrying about how deep the inlays are would be a temporary fix that might do more harm than good.

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Thanks guys.

When its refret time I will consider having it lightly done.

I thought it might go right through the inlays.


Its not a loosening of the neck its been like this since it was bought.


My brother who has owned 50-60 Historic reissue Les Pauls had told me, that most Gibsons have a rise in that spot to some extent due to the fretting of the fingerboard before it is installed on the neck.

And that the right way was to install the fretboard first, plane it even, then install the frets. He used to be unhappy that they compromised this detail.


If you notice,sighting down the necks..Martin Acoustics have a distinct drop off at that point.

When I asked the head of the Custom Shop at Martin when I got mine , he said it is designed into the instrument.

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