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Argggg - how do I stop fret wear?

ianasdfg
April 13th, 2009, 06:52 AM
Last summer I bought a beautiful blond tele and an old Les Paul in immaculate condition.

After a few months both started showing fret wear - as a result the Les Paul's become a case queen that I only pull out for recording and the tele will likely go that way too.

I tried wiping strings as often as I can remember to do so - and using that fast fret stuff - but for me frets still wear. It's freaking annoying.

Rob DiStefano
April 13th, 2009, 07:20 AM
fret wear is like car brake wear - both are inevitable, particularly if used daily.

wiping the frets ain't gonna help at all with where the wear comes from - metal-to-metal contact.

perhaps yer a candidate for s/s frets?

imsilly
April 13th, 2009, 07:22 AM
Nothing will stop fret wear, but large flatwound strings will wear the frets out slower. They also sound great.

I hope that helps.

Rob DiStefano
April 13th, 2009, 07:27 AM
far and away, flatwounds are s/s tape wound, which is harder than steel or nickel wound roundwounds, thus faster fret wear.

ianasdfg
April 13th, 2009, 07:29 AM
thanks will check out both suggestions.

Funny thing is I played in a band for ten years with an amazing guitarist who had an old strat - despite all the sweaty clubs, hot lights, smoke, outdoor festivals, etc he never seemed to get fret wear.

Maybe he just had regular refrets and never mentioned it.

jkingma
April 13th, 2009, 07:29 AM
Stop fret wear = Stop playing

...and nobody wants to do that. Frets wear, so live with it and replace them when necessary.

Scotland
April 13th, 2009, 07:30 AM
Unless you use S/S frets, you can't stop it. Do you want the guitars to just look at or for playing also?
If it's for playing then play them, frets can take years of wear before refretting is required. No big deal when they need refretted either so I'd stop being worried and just play them.

Scotland
April 13th, 2009, 07:32 AM
thanks will check out both suggestions.

despite all the sweaty clubs, hot lights, smoke, outdoor festivals, etc he never seemed to get fret wear.


None of the above wears down frets. String metal rubbing on fret metal, that is all it is.

jefrs
April 13th, 2009, 07:32 AM
Fret wear is inevitable but if both are showing excessive fret wear in less than a year then I suggest the cause is yourself - are you pressing down too hard? A lighter touch is quicker, don't fight the instruments. And don't stop playing them.

Tonemonkey
April 13th, 2009, 07:36 AM
My guitars suffer likewise...then again, they have a herd of elephants tramping up and down them on a daily basis!:oops:

Maybe your guitars suffer from the same syndrome. Do you have a heavy touch? :wink:

Rob DiStefano
April 13th, 2009, 07:38 AM
... or the fretwire is too soft (i.e. 12% nickel-silver and not 18% hard nickel-silver). string gauge can matter as well - 11's wear frets faster than 9's. or, it's just you and the way you play. don't change yer playing, change yer worn frets.

Ronkirn
April 13th, 2009, 07:43 AM
Not only is Scotland Wise.. He’s double wise, he lives where they make the nectar of the Gods…. Single Malt….

Fret wire is directly related to your fingering style. The only way to stop it is to relearn, not at all an easy thing to do.

Stainless frets are made of a harder alloy, but are still softer than the strings; they have to be to allow for fret work. Were they the Stainless we are most familiar with, they would wear out the typical fret tools. Thus the Stainless fret’s hardness falls somewhere between that of the Nickel silver and the more commonly encountered Stainless Steel we use to cut out Steaks with.

The conventional frets are all made from about the same alloy, an 18% nickel silver. It has no Silver (Ag), but is an alloy of brass containing Nickel. There are a few cheepo frets available having less nickel, perhaps?? Thus all wear about the same. There are a few “off the mainstream” frets available, but who cares.

Ron Kirn

ianasdfg
April 13th, 2009, 07:45 AM
... or the fretwire is too soft (i.e. 12% nickel-silver and not 18% hard nickel-silver). string gauge can matter as well - 11's wear frets faster than 9's. or, it's just you and the way you play. don't change yer playing, change yer worn frets.

It's usually the first three frets that go from strumming open chords - although I solo a lot the upper frets are fine.

Maybe it's because my first guitars were really crappy things with high actions
so I've just gotten used to pressing chords down hard.

Scotland
April 13th, 2009, 07:54 AM
Are you talking about actual fret wear or just indents on the frets ?

Roli
April 13th, 2009, 07:56 AM
18% nickel steel hardness is about 170 HB (Brinell hardness), stainless steel frets have around 40 HRC (Rockwell hardness C scale), which falls around 375 on the Brinell scale. So stainless steel frets are more than twice as hard as the hardest nickel silver ones.

So I say, go for stainless steel frets and you'll be set.


Sources: http://www.sintoms.infonet.by/FretsProduction.htm

http://www.engineersedge.com/hardness_conversion.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinell_hardness_test

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockwell_hardness


.

ianasdfg
April 13th, 2009, 08:06 AM
Are you talking about actual fret wear or just indents on the frets ?

It's indents that become fret buzz - I have an Ovation that's now unplayable because of it. Fortunately I know a tech who could probably sort it out - but the thought out handing something as precious as my Les Paul over for filing or refretting makes me a little queasy- not that the wear has got to that stage yet.

Fortunately with teles I much prefer classic players to expensive US standards - but they're still precious to me.

ianasdfg
April 13th, 2009, 08:10 AM
18% nickel steel hardness is about 170 HB (Brinell hardness), stainless steel frets have around 40 HRC (Rockwell hardness C scale), which falls around 375 on the Brinell scale. So stainless steel frets are more than twice as hard as the hardest nickel silver ones.

So I say, go for stainless steel frets and you'll be set.


Sources: http://www.sintoms.infonet.by/FretsProduction.htm

http://www.engineersedge.com/hardness_conversion.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinell_hardness_test

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockwell_hardness


.

Thanks Roli - for the very useful info.

psychotelepathic
April 13th, 2009, 08:20 AM
You could stop playing, but then you'll suck on the guitar...that will make you one of those guys that owns nice guitars but can't play. Wear those frets down, replace as needed!

PJ
April 13th, 2009, 07:53 PM
I find Fender frets wear quicker than Warmoth. I have a Warmoth neck, with normal nickel-silver 6105s on it and after a few years, I see no fret wear. Fenders I have wear quicker. So, I had one of my Fenders refretted with SS frets. For just that reason. And, I like them a lot. A tad snappier in the tone department, but you can easily rolloff a little of the highs, which you probably do to some extent anyway.

jivetrain
April 13th, 2009, 08:02 PM
is there some sort of catch with ss frets? i'm assuming they're much harder for a luthier to work with, but do they have any drawbacks from the player's perspective?

pengipete
April 13th, 2009, 08:18 PM
Less frettng-hand pressure - especially when bending or adding vibrato.

Clean your strings and replace them before they are too worn. Rusty or pitted strings have a rough surface and will grind through your frets like a file.

Never leave a capo on longer than necessary and only have it as tight as is absolutely necessary.

Robert H.
April 13th, 2009, 08:22 PM
1) Nail your guitar to the wall and don't touch it again;
2) Install Stainless Steel frets. They are great and show no signs of wear after more than one year of playing daily on a Suhr T.
3) Nail your guitar to the wall...

Joe-Bob
April 13th, 2009, 08:59 PM
Less frettng-hand pressure.....
Finally!

Yes, give up on the white-knuckle left hand grip; Cheap, easy, tastes great-less filling. :wink:

maestrovert
April 13th, 2009, 09:01 PM
i spread the practice time around to many other guitars so my main recording faves don't take the brunt of the wear and tear....
also, i usuallly have refrets done after 2 fret dressing/level & recrown jobs....

i'd like to try stainless frets, but so far no luthier of my acquaintance will do it, they don't want the extra wear and tear on their tools...

e-merlin
April 13th, 2009, 09:03 PM
Nothing will stop fret wear...

You are wrong, sir! You can stop fretwear by not playing...

telefunk
April 13th, 2009, 09:05 PM
is there some sort of catch with ss frets? i'm assuming they're much harder for a luthier to work with, but do they have any drawbacks from the player's perspective?
None that I can tell. I had a '68 refretted in Stainless nearly 30 years ago and haven't needed a major levelling job since. Prior to that I needed the frets filed about every 18 months to remove the dips. After the third time there wasn't enough 'meat' left and the luthier suggested a refret with ss. It was more expensive as they are harder to work with but was worth it.

Colt W. Knight
April 13th, 2009, 09:12 PM
I too suffer from cowboy chord indentations. In the future, I am going to go with SS frets, but as for right now, I will use what I got till I wear them out.

My warmoth necks are wearing just as fast as my Fender and Martin frets.

PJ
April 13th, 2009, 09:21 PM
I think most luthiers will charge more to do stainless, since it takes them longer and they normally price jobs by labor hours. But, AllParts has just added a vintage-spec neck, with stainless steel frets that's not significantly more expensive and Warmoth does a nice job with stainless, also. And, I think Tom Anderson guitars use them exclusively. So, as long as you buy from a shop that's set-up to do them, you'll be OK.

Sea Devil
April 14th, 2009, 12:23 AM
Use nickel strings and you can slow down the wear a bit. My Hahn 228 has needed three light fret dressings since I got it in late October, but I've been using Boomers. I guess I should take my own advice.

morroben
April 14th, 2009, 12:38 AM
If you're using Dean Markley Blue Steel strings...stop.

strat-o-teleman
April 14th, 2009, 12:49 AM
Anybody tried All Parts' Stainless Steel frets? I'm thinking of using them, as they have a size that is just a bit bigger than Vintage 6230 frets but smaller than 6105(I wasn't sure I could get used to the 6105's). I'm just wondering about their quality and size consistency?

Joel
aka. strat-o-teleman

krauser2
April 14th, 2009, 12:57 AM
take a hammer

hit your telecaster and les paul one good time...did it leave a wound?

good

I use to be super weary about my guitars and if they had a ding or a scratch I couldnt sleep or eat that entire day...then I realized, I dont have any custom or one of a kind stuff

they have more sentimental value than any dollar price. So my guitars have more play, more wear, more scars....

and its damn sexy, lighter touch on the frets should help out, but if you play everyday its just normal guitar life.

FredDairy
April 14th, 2009, 09:17 AM
Don't worry about fret ware. This is like buying a car and deciding not to drive it over 3,000 miles because you don't want to ever change the oil on it.
When you start getting some serious fret ware take it to a reputable tech and have the frets dressed, you'll be surprised how high and how original the worn frets can feel after a good dressing. Also, try nickle strings, not nickle plated but true nickle strings.

If you enjoy your guitar do not make it a case queen. What are you saving it for? Every day your closer to death right? Plus you could go out one morning to work and have type of freak accident happen that could impair you from ever playing that guitar again. A refret is not the end of the world.

qblue
April 14th, 2009, 09:20 AM
I have a Fender Baja, and I decided, after a set of GHS boomers showed fret wear, to try Fender Bullets 250. I always use 0.10- 0.46 gauge. It has a claim on the package that says they are composed of more nickel (Ni). I really think it showed less wear since I began using them. I've since changed to the Fenders on my beloved Strat Ultra, with similar results, because like metals can't wear each other, and the wear becomes minimal. The 1971 stratocaster needs a fret job.

I have always liked the GHS strings, but the fret wear issue is enough to change. I don't hear a great difference and the strings don't go flat on me similar to the GHS brand.

Cuco
April 14th, 2009, 01:25 PM
that will make you one of those guys that owns nice guitars but can't play.
That hurts, man.



You could always buy a practice guitar. Play the h3ll out of that.

djmcconnell
April 14th, 2009, 01:39 PM
That hurts, man.



You could always buy a practice guitar. Play the h3ll out of that.

Sadly, I'm that guy. I am working on it, though! :razz:

prawnik
April 14th, 2009, 04:16 PM
Not only is Scotland Wise.. He’s double wise, he lives where they make the nectar of the Gods…. Single Malt….

Ron Kirn

Capitalist lies. The nectar of the Gods is a good Bulgarian Rakia.

Ronkirn
April 14th, 2009, 05:35 PM
Bulgarian Rakia.

whut iz dat? Potato juice... :lol:

rk

Colt W. Knight
April 14th, 2009, 06:35 PM
The stuff I drink comes from Kentucky.

BartMan
April 14th, 2009, 06:43 PM
Raise the action of the strings and learn to exclusively play slide. :)

David Barnett
April 14th, 2009, 06:54 PM
Many years ago I read in interview with Dan Armstrong, he was talking about the plexiglass Dan Armstrong Ampeg guitars. He claimed that they assembled the guitars without ever dressing or profiling the frets at all, apart from smoothing the ends, and instead levelled them with a rubber hammer. His contention was that if you never sand or file the tops of the frets, they won't wear.

I don't know if it is practical, or even possible, to refret and set up a conventional guitar this way, and still get a low, playable action, and I bet it'd be damned difficult to talk a luthier into trying it.

jefrs
April 14th, 2009, 07:38 PM
I put frets in with a rubber hammer but they have to be levelled and dressed, I guess a wooden neck cannot be machined as precisely as plastic, it shrinks and swells.

Does anyone know what type of steel the stainless frets are, I thinking a type of easily machined 'silver steel' rather than austenitic. I doubt they are as malleable as the nickel-silver type, meaning that they will have to be pre-formed to radius, more work.

David Barnett
April 14th, 2009, 08:37 PM
I put frets in with a rubber hammer but they have to be levelled and dressed, I guess a wooden neck cannot be machined as precisely as plastic, it shrinks and swells.



The Armstrong guitars had maple necks. But I think there was either no fretboard radius, or else an estremely large one, they were essentially flat.

blacklinefish
April 14th, 2009, 08:47 PM
I learned on classical guitar first. Then, my first electric was a Les Paul with fretless wonders (low flat frets). I wonder if this is why I have a light touch and never wear out frets.

Colt W. Knight
April 15th, 2009, 12:08 AM
I learned on a high action Martin with 13s playing bluegrass. I think that is why I have such a heavy hand. Of course now, my Martins action is very low. If I only knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have made my fingers bleed so much.

JayFreddy
April 15th, 2009, 03:15 AM
Anybody tried All Parts' Stainless Steel frets? I'm just wondering about their quality and size consistency?Got some about 2 years ago. Like 'em. Good quality, and consistent too. My luthier isn't fond of 'em, as they raise Cain with his tools, but he charges a little extra for stainless to account for wear and tear. He tells me he's planning on getting new files specifically for doing stainless frets. That's good news for me. Whenever possible, from now on, all my refrets will be stainless. They work well for me.

Sleph
April 15th, 2009, 03:44 AM
TFS......don't use SS strings....use flat wounds......wipe your strings often because rusty stings wear your frets faster.

IMO be carful of stainless frets. I had a guitar refretted recently with them after reading that they were great and didn't effect tone....that guitar went from being crisp and jangly to sounding overly bright and very harsh...an expensive mistake....