Mr 335 Gets a Shave
W ell respected session guitarist Mr Duncan Findlay had purchased the Gibson custom shop Larry Carlton signature guitar (known as Mr 335) unseen. Unfortunately he just couldn’t get on with the neck!
It’s a pretty chunky affair if you haven’t come across one before. To digress for a bit, I personally own one of the early Jeff Beck signature Fender strats and the neck on that is like half a baseball bat …just like Mr 335 here. Now I happen to love a neck like that but I realise that a lot of my customers prefer thinner necks so it was my pleasure to improve the playability of this guitar for this particular gentleman. He happens to own a 70s Gibson SG Custom whose neck he just loves. My task was to make them play the same or as near as possible. After playing them both for a while I realised his dilemma…they were just SO different. Apart from the vast difference in the neck depth and profile, the fretwire on the 335 was pretty chunky, over 1.5mm, which could be considered extremely high. By contrast the SG had been played for many years without a refret, in fact I’m sure the frets have been levelled previously…so the frets were pretty low around 0.75mm in height. Depth of the SG neck at the first fret was a very slim 18.5mm whereas Mr 335 was decidedly bulkier at 24.5mm. Now that’s a full 6mm!!..or nearly 1/4″ in old currency. Quite a difference in size and in that all important “feel”.
I decided the best job would be obviously to reshape and then refinish the neck, but also to file the frets on the 335 lower to try to get nearer the feel of the SG that the customer liked.
I measured up the depth of the SG neck, made templates, then carefully reshaped the 335 neck by carefully copying the profile of the SG neck with help of gauges and templates. I then refinished the 335 neck after I was happy with it. Finally I reduced the height of the frets quite agressively, before reprofiling them, polishing them then finally setting the guitar up. What a difference! My customer was so happy that he now could look forward to gigging the guitar whereas before the “shave” it languished in its case.
Anyway here are the portfolio pictures that tell the story of the job.