Let me start this off like this: I do not like frets that fail to span the width of the fret board.
So this places me at odd's with a lot of guitars manufactured by Gibson. I can replace frets well regardless of the length but for a few reasons, which I will outline, I prefer the longer frets.
Why does size matter in this case?
Eh hem, wood shrinks and expands. This process is all encompassing and you can take your pick - humidity, temperature, time, wood preparation blah blah blah... So if the guitar you own has a contracting or expanding surface, the frets can be adjusted easier. If the guitar fret board contracts you can file off the excess. If the fret board surface expands the fret could be removed and replaced with a new wire. Oh, and frets don't chip or break as easy as plastic binding fret nibs.
With the "nibs," a gap is created between the fret board and the binding. I've often filled the gaps for customers so their string doesn't snag in the gap. Replacing the fret is much more laborious.
Click this link to see a great illustration of the steps required to replace frets and binding (with nibs)!
Regardless of the system you choose, your frets will wear out if you play the instrument enough. On a high note; some of the less expensive Gibson Les Paul specials have the frets I like and honestly these guitar play well and deserve your attention. So, before you take your hard earned cash and buy a fancy Les Paul Traditional, Traditional Pro, Standard, Standard Pro, SG, et al, you might be better served with a Les Paul Special and spend the money you save on a nice amplifier or effect pedal.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS FOR NASTY NIB GAPS! (getting your string caught is a show stopper nobody wants!!!!)
I've received some excellent feed back regarding how to span the gap between the frets and the binding nibs on Gibson Les Paul necks. There are two methods that I've used; one is an inexpensive solution, the second remedy is more expensive but also better.
- Method 1 - I take a 600 grit sand paper and sand some stock from a white piece of plastic or spare piece of binding (binding stock link). I take the plastic chad/plastic dust and mix it with thick cyanacrylate cement (Stew-Mac link). Next, I carefully apply the mixture with a toothpick or similar object. I've found that you can carefully manipulate the cement but start by applying conservative portions. Take your time and DO NOT RUSH THE JOB. I let the patch set for 24 hours. Clean up the ends with fine grade fretting files.
- Method 2 - Follow the same instructions above but use 3M Light cure (instead of plastic chad) composites. You will also need a VERY HIGH INTENSITY visable blue light to cure the adhesive. This is the same tools and supplies Dentists use. Each gap can be filled and cured in about 10 seconds. This is super high tech and probably not a inexpensive alternative. However, it works GREAT!