Poor, poor Jeff

Well, I think I mentioned before about my dear Gibson ES-135 that I named Jeff (despite my jokey post about naming all of my guitars, it only stuck with this one). And that he needed a tuning head fixed or replaced and the same with his toggle switch.

I’d been using Jeff mostly for drop/modal D tuning, but shunted that duty off onto the acoustic for now and slapped Jeff into Eb tuning to be able to play along with old Guns n Roses riffs (or rather to attempt to do so).

And this is when I noticed something odd: any given riff that I can play fine on the ES-175 is much harder to play on Jeff, and things involving pull-offs like the chorus riffs from “It’s So Easy” are almost impossible. It’s like trying to pull off on razor blades.

I figured this was because I had heavier strings on Jeff, but replacing those with Ernie Ball Super Slinkys to match the 175 made little difference.

This was when I decided to do a side by side close inspection of both guitars and it was only then that I noticed that while the 175 has uber-low frets, in fact the lowest I think I’ve seen, and a low nut, and thus really low action which makes for playing like running a hot knife through butter: mmm… melty…

Jeff, however, has very high and narrow and pointy frets. Looks like someone replaced them; I’ve certainly never seen any Gibson with frets like that.


It’s hard to get a good clear shot, but Jeff’s frets are about 1.5mm high. The 175 is closer to 0.5mm.

And his nut is also high. Even with the sloppy thin strings and being in Eb, which should be even meltier than the 175, I can’t get the string to touch the fingerboard when fretting, and that explains why it’s a bitch to play.

So, off to the guitar doctor Jeff was sent today. We discussed filing the frets down but agreed that it’s best to just completely refret, and the other couple problems will be fixed at the same time.

He’ll be out of commission for 2-3 weeks, but he should come back in fine fighting form.