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Old April 20th, 2017, 01:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Bethesda, MD
Age: 63
Posts: 154
If you're sure fret height is the problem, may I suggest that you get it Plek'd?


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Old June 16th, 2017, 01:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: SE
Age: 62
Posts: 1
Originally Posted by Gene1000 View Post
Hello all,

I purchased a beautiful 2000 ES345 about a couple of years ago. It came with what I thought at the time, was low action, Gibson recommended 10's, proper radius setup, etc. It played OK, but not as easy as I thought it would for such an instrument.

My fingers are not all that strong and I play a soft Atkins fingerstyle, so I can take the low action and do fine.

Some time after it came in, I installed a Vibramate adapter and a Bigsby B7. This setup made the strings about 4-1/2" longer than original, without the Bigsby. With the added string length because of the Bigsby, the instrument should generally be a little more difficult to play and it was. I'm running Chrome flats, 10 - 48.

After a long hiatus, I recently picked it up again and played a few tunes, only to discover that despite a straight neck (paper thin at 7th fret) and what I believe to be the proper action setup, the guitar still seemed somewhat difficult to play in terms of finger pressure required. Not only that, but the strings actually dig into my skin like a knife and cause significant pain. This does not happen with any other guitar that I use.

I figured that fret height and string action might be a couple of the reasons why this guitar is more difficult to play than most of my others, do I did a quick check by comparing the 345 to a Gretsch Super Chet I have that plays with almost no effort. Here's what I came up with:

Fret Height Low E - Inches Gretsch vs. ES345
1st fret Gretsch .0445 ES345 .0570
5th fret .0320 .0620
12th fret .0415 .0515
20th fret .0435 .0580
Average Gretsch .0403 ES345 .0571
This represents a 42% increase in fret height on the ES345 vs the Gretsch.

Top of fret to top of string (not bottom) - inches
Low E 1st fret Gretsch .040 ES345 .040
Low E 5th fret .060 .070
Low E 12th fret .080 .090
Low E 20th fret .100 .100
Hi E 1st fret .010 .030
Hi E 5th fret .025 .040
Hi E 12th fret .040 .040
Hi E 20th fret .050 .040
Average Gretsch .0506 ES345 .0563
This represents about an 11% increase string height above frets with the ES 345 vs the Gretsch.

Seems that both the fret height and the string height above the frets are higher on the ES 345 than the Super Chet, which explains a lot. Combined, the overall additional fret-string height on the ES 345 vs the Super Chet is about 25%. Since I purchased the 345 used, I don't know if the 345 came set up this way from the factory or was modified by the original buyer.

So, I have two questions: Can anyone tell me if the setup specs on my 345 seem correct for a factory instrument? I own a 1964 ES330 and it plays wonderfully, with perfect action. The frets are lower than the 345.

And second, would it be possible to have a luthier refret the 345 with lower frets so that I could bring down the action to my liking? Has anyone done this and if so, with what success? Was there any detrimental impact on the instrument by installing lower frets such as intonation, nut/saddle adjustments, etc?

Sorry for the long winded post, but I spent a lot of money on this pristine guitar and I'd like it to play as I want it to.

I've attached a picture of the guitar with this post. You can see the Vibramate adapter and the Bigsby.

Thanks for your help.
You really puzzle me...why don't you just lower the bridge til you are satisfied ?

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Old June 19th, 2017, 06:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 109
345 issues.

Both new Gibson's I've bought had frets that were too high compared to the low wide on older stuff I've owned. I've had mine done and reprofiled and the 345 plays fine now but it does feel "new" and, although that vibrola looks wonderful, the string angle for the break is very shallow. I have contemplated going to a stop tail as the original stud holes are underneath the "custom made" plate.

Also....I can see why many pros ditch the varitone; it does have some uses as a recording tool but live, it just cuts the overall volume too much. In bypass, the guitar has loads of poke but it is quite heavy. Well! I lusted after an original spec model and this '64 reissue looks fabulous but maybe reissued too perfectly!

One thing I've found that does improve playability and IMHO is to let in a slight relief to the neck, a bit of clearance in the middle really helps. I wouldn't opt for a refret as it's a tricky and expensive job, especially if you want to retain those binding nibs. Get a decent pro to lower the frets and make sure they are re-profiled too. I personally like to feel the fingerboard as I play and yes, high frets do make the strings seem to cut into your fingers. I think it's a modern thing, these high frets, assuming we're all extreme string benders but we managed ok in the past and if you're a Chet-style player you don't need it.
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