Fret Level on Vintage Les Paul Jnr Style Guitar

This guitar was a bargain score for the owner but he was having issues with it and so I got busy to try to sort it out. At first it looked like just a setup was in order as the action was very high. The owner told me that was the only way to get it playable so I started to wonder if there was an issue with high frets.

On inspection I found the fret board had a hump around the forth or fifth fret and again up towards the fourteenth. There were also high frets all over the place and it was clear not much care had been given to the fretboard when this guitar left the factory. Guitars like this can take a lot of work to bring them up to spec and the cost can quickly turn a margin into a money pit. The best way forward for this guitar I decided was a fret level.

I got the neck as straight as it would go and managed to bring the frets in line and to be honest it turned out better than I expected. The setup was marred by the over engineered Wilkinson bridge, which has been designed to make it very difficult to set a guitar up. The height adjustment bolts are split and held together by another bolt which is tightened to lock the bridge in place. When it is loose (how you need it to be when adjusting the action and intonation) the height adjustment bolt has a gap in it right at the same point the intonation nut is, so it is very easy to tighten that nut into the gap when you’re attempting to intonate. Very frustrating! On top of that, when you finally get everything where you want it and tighten the locking nuts, the whole bridge moves. negating all the work you’ve just done. The only way round this is guess work and good judgement which my anal brain hates.

As it turns out this guitar now plays well but I’ll be happy if I never see a bridge like that again!