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Fret Wear

Del Nilppeznaf

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Just pondering why guitar builders do not use stainless steel or titanium for frets ?


Given that many guitarists will need fret work done on their instruments, me after just one year, would it not be better to use a harder wearing material than the norm'..as standard ?


and are there any guitar manufacturers who do this..as standard?


just wondering... I guess cost and tradition will be the main reason ..and maybe ease of use ie: a softer metal being easier to work with ?


but are there any members who would welcome this ?



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i had one of my guitars refretted a few years back and chose to go with stainless frets. there was an additional charge for it but it wasn't significant to the overall cost of the refret.


I talked to the guys in the shop about it at the time and they said that the durability of stainless was excellent but due to the harder material they couldn't work on the frets with their regular tools (or it put a significant amount of extra wear on the tools) and that was the primary reason for the additional cost.


the cost of the fret wire - while more - was negligible.


I've been super happy with the fret job, the guitar plays great and they still look like new 3 years later

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"cost and tradition" - nail on the head O'del. ;)


There's also the tonehounds who believe anything, no matter how seemingly insignificant will have a catastrophic effect on their tone... Not sure I'd subscribe to many of those reasons myself, but med or higher action will usually result in a crowning/refret job somewhere down the line, as will a death grip. a combo of the two action & grip will result in several refrets over a lifetime.


As a side note, I compared my guitars to yours when you first posted about this, now, I get less playing time per week than yourself, but I'm also spreading it across multiple guitars, the result, none of them were even remotely close to the photos you had posted, even the gigging guitars which take a far heavier battering... you may wish to use such an argument when convincing the old lady you need to add another Gibson to the hoard.

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Carvin offers it when they build you a guitar, but they don't build acoustics. As a beater/pounder I too would like this option when I re-tret my '03. It's held up very well, but for several years of it's life I was gigging bars with the electrics. Now it's just about all I play, and it's beginning to show.


It also has the high, factory action which I think would ALMOST allow you to be fretless.


They do last MUCH longer according to the guys at the Carvin Forum and I'll search someone out to put stainless on mine when the time comes.

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With a light touch low action I wear frets very little but I asked a guy a couple of days ago what a refret would cost & he said $400...seems expensive..

But Stainless would be $500.

He says $25 extra maybe for the frets but more time to shape ect is the rest. He says if he has to pass the file 2 times on a standard fret it takes 5 passes on a Stainless..


Im thinking when a guy buys a guitar which cost $700 new..how is he to justify a $400 refret..?

What do they do with those guitars..toss em?


Anyone of you guys get a refret this past year that looks excellent..what did it cost?

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Just pondering why guitar builders do not use stainless steel or titanium for frets ? ...

One reason I've heard has to do with the fact that, not only do strings damage frets, but frets damage strings. If you check out old strings, you'll see flattened spots in the windings where the strings are fretted. Of course, that kind of damage hurts intonation. I've heard that harder frets damage strings quicker, which certainly makes sense, meaning more frequent string changes will be required if you're sensitive to intonation. So, fret hardness is a compromise: you want frets that are hard enough to last awhile, but are no harder than necessary to ensure that. So there is a school of thought that holds harder frets are great for professionals who have string endorsements and change strings for every show anyway, but, for most typical players, the more frequent string changes would cost more than the less frequent fret dresses and refrets would save. I'm sure that's true for me -- no way I'm gonna live long enough to wear out a set of new frets -- but the economics are probably different for a guy like you.


On the other hand, I don't think I've never heard a complaint from someone who switched to harder frets and was unhappy because it reduced string life, so there may not be anything to the notion that harder frets cause more string damage.


-- Bob R

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