Recommended by Joe Dufresne
Anyone who knows me knows that I love and appreciate all things vintage, especially guitars. What's better than a great old guitar? I'll tell you. A great old guitar with a fresh new life bestowed upon it.
A good friend of mine, Alan Thompson, turned me on to Healy Guitars. He spent considerable time searching for a luthier that he felt comfortable handing over several of his Les Paul customs to for re-fret jobs. Trevor Healy, the owner of Healy Guitars, has worked on instruments for many famous rock musicians including Kirk Hammett of Metallica. He has a small but fabulous crew that turn out the highest quality product. I personally would love to buy one of his Healy Growler's (a body style similar to a Les Paul double cut) but at the moment must financially settle on restoring an 80's era Gibson Explorer.
Healy Guitars is located in Easthampton Massachusetts on the bottom floor of and older-style industrial complex that has been refurbed into many modern smaller businesses, art shops, and studios. A short drive (less than 2 hours) for anyone near the Albany, NY area and well worth the trip.
Refretting any guitar is a time consuming detail oriented labor of love for even the most seasoned professional luthier. Especially when dealing with fretboards which were not maintained with oil / have gone dry / can chip easily, etc.
It is difficult to describe, and with my limited macro photography skills, even harder to photograph the quality of work performed. I'll start with the feel. The fret edges are perfect. The angled cuts maximize available fret area right to the edge of the fretboard. The bevels, hand filed on each fret on both sides, are also perfect. Every. Single. One. Fret crowning is also perfect. Great action / no buzz. Nothing rushed here. Nothing but quality work.
You can run your hand and fingers up and down this neck all day long. I had Jescar Jumbo 57110 stainless steel fret wire installed as it is, in my opinion, perfect. Not too wide, not too tall, smooth and fast to play.
A new bone nut and a set of gold Saturday Night Specials complete the update to this fantastic nearly 40 year old instrument. These pickups are 100% vintage sounding like original P.A.F.s but slightly hotter. Back off the volume just a hair and you'd swear its the late 70s all over again. Crank the volume back up or run these through a high-gain amp and be prepared for heavy fatness of the older variety (which I love), not the Djent type stuff (which I do not love). They are amazingly dynamic as well. Not tight or over compressed like many mid to high output pick ups. You can go from lightly dirty to punch-you-in-the-face heavy all with picking technique.
Together, the frets, the pickups, and the new nut make soloing a treat. This old Gibson beast is certainly easy on the eyes but now plays and sounds like a vintage dream and does so effortlessly.
I cannot recommend Healy Guitars enough. Calvin, who did the work on this, is super cool, super talented, and of course a guitar player himself. With Trevor and his crew you know your guitar is in good hands. I've had other fretwork done elsewhere locally that was only slightly less expensive (not mentioning names) and left me less than thrilled with the result and that's being polite. I can say I will literally NEVER go anywhere else other than Healy Guitars from now on. Worth the time, drive, and every penny spent. To Trevor, Calvin, and everyone else at Healy Guitars I simply want to shout "Thank you!"
I have trouble putting this guitar down once I pick it up.