Early in 1976, we were two young New York guitarists playing side by side in the pit of a hit Broadway show. At that time, when a guitar needed a fret dressing a visit to the local luthier’s shop was the norm and in our case it was the Long Island shop of Jimmy D’Aquisto, who was not only the maker of both our guitars but also a mutual friend.
After watching Jimmy at work with the confidence and precision like the master that he truly was, the thought came to us that maybe there was an easier way to dress frets. One that could be performed by anyone of the millions of average players who didn’t necessarily have all of the conventional tools, or the acquired special skills….or someone like Jimmy to do it for them.
So we began to put together criteria for this new method. First, it had to be easy to do. It had to be a method that didn’t require of the user a great knowledge of fingerboard design and function. Rather, it had to have those elements intrinsic in its basic design so that the user only had to follow a few simple instructions requiring just a modicum of manual ability.
Second, some of the conventional approaches to dressing frets had to be changed. How can the frets be leveled without tensioning the truss rod to make the fingerboard perfectly flat? Doing that requires re-adjustment once the dressing is completed and not a task easily performed correctly by a novice. Also, how can the frets be crowned after they’re leveled without following the conventional method of filing each fret with a special file? That requires years of experience and manual skill. Pressure and angle differentials can cause fret height variations, to say nothing of intonation problems if the final point of contact with the string isn’t where it should be.
After many months of trial and error, concept after concept was abandoned until one day it all came together. The neck didn’t have to be flat. The crowning didn’t need a special file and an experienced hand. The strings didn’t even have to be removed. And it worked.
We were very excited, but first we wanted an expert’s opinion, so we called Jimmy and asked him if he’d take a look and give it a review, good or bad. So we drove out to the shop like two high school kids with bated breath hoping the concept would pass muster with the Maestro.
We walked into the shop and Jimmy, with that infamous D’Aquisto warmth, greeted us with hugs. We handed him our only prototype of the kit with a set of the instructions and he abruptly walked out of the shop into his back room, not saying anything. After 5 minutes he came out and said two words:
We called the patent attorneys the following day.
The US Patent And Trademark Office granted us a patent on July 26th, 1977 for our Fret Refinishing Apparatus and Method.
We began to market the kits through major national and international musical instrument wholesale distributors and guitar importers.
We were hoping to see the kits in the hands of the average players for whom they were intended. But we were in for a sobering surprise. After a number of large orders from each and every one of our 20 or more distributors the orders abruptly slowed. And for good reason. Each of these distributors had accounts with music stores and guitar shops, many either already had fret dressing services before they ordered the kits or they definitely did afterwards. In other words, the stores weren’t selling the Thomas-Ginex Fret Refinishing Kits…..they were usingthem!
So now, we not only sell our products directly to those same stores and shops either through eBay or here on our website, but also to the average players out there that the Thomas-Ginex Fret Refinishing Kit was created for in the first place....