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Old January 3rd, 2013, 08:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Time for new frets?

How can I tell if it's time to replace the frets on my tele? It's a 1998 American Deluxe nashville style, and it's never had new frets installed, and it get played roughly three hours a day for the last four years, before that it was hardly played. How can I know when it's time, or is it even necessary? Thanks!

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Old January 3rd, 2013, 09:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do you have anything like this going on?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsid...rs/4170052621/

Those are divots from typical playing - if those are there, and you haven't had any fretwork done before, you can likely get by with a $60-80 dress and level. If you don't see those, you likely don't need new frets.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 10:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Do you have anything like this going on?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsid...rs/4170052621/

Those are divots from typical playing - if those are there, and you haven't had any fretwork done before, you can likely get by with a $60-80 dress and level. If you don't see those, you likely don't need new frets.
Yes I do have that, but only on the lower part of the first and second frets




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Old January 3rd, 2013, 10:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If you're not noticing a string buzz and it feels fine to you, you're fine. If it bothers you or is buzzing, dress and level. Problem solved for another 4 years for cheap!
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Old January 4th, 2013, 01:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If you're not noticing a string buzz and it feels fine to you, you're fine. If it bothers you or is buzzing, dress and level. Problem solved for another 4 years for cheap!
That's the right idea - If the frets are affecting your playing, get them fixed. If they're not affecting your playing, don't get them fixed.

I'd suggest getting some outside references too. I've noticed that playing a neck that's been properly leveled and crowned will tell you just what condition your neck is in. And it's a good excuse to spend some quality time with the beauties at the nearest music store!
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Old January 4th, 2013, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Might need dressing, don't think it would need a re-fret yet.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #7 (permalink)

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From your pictures, it looks like a level & crown will take care of the problem this time. There's probably not enough meat left to let the wear get that bad twice, though, so next time it's like this you'll need a full or partial refret.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 11:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Level and crown should do you right this time around. You'll just have to get used to the frets being lower.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 12:12 PM   #9 (permalink)

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Level and crown should do you right this time around. You'll just have to get used to the frets being lower.
He's already used to it because the frets *are* lower, at lease where he's fretting them.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 12:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Refrets can run you $300 or so, btw, so when it gets to that point, you may want to think about a completely new neck, unless your current one is the absolute bomb.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 01:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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He's already used to it because the frets *are* lower, at lease where he's fretting them.
I was just talking about up the neck
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Old January 4th, 2013, 01:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Refrets can run you $300 or so, btw, so when it gets to that point, you may want to think about a completely new neck, unless your current one is the absolute bomb.
I absolutely love the neck on this guitar, I have never played one that equals it, so I'd happily pay that instead of replacing a perfect neck
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Old January 4th, 2013, 02:50 PM   #13 (permalink)

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Refrets can run you $300 or so, btw, so when it gets to that point, you may want to think about a completely new neck, unless your current one is the absolute bomb.
This makes sense from a purely financial perspective, but you need to keep in mind that changing the neck will change the sound of the guitar. If you like the feel of a neck and the sound of the guitar, you're much better off with a refret.

Besides that, you're going to have to go bargain hunting for a new neck under $300, and you're not going to be getting the same quality, not unless you do the finishing and nut yourself and have good skills.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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And, ironically enough, a new neck probably needs a fret dressing anyway.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 04:03 PM   #15 (permalink)
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For all you luthiers out there... how often is a partial refret of just the first few frets viable? Presumably the sensible choice when you just have those 'cowboy chord' grooves?
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Old January 4th, 2013, 04:32 PM   #16 (permalink)

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And, ironically enough, a new neck probably needs a fret dressing anyway.
Truedat. I know that a lot of times customers think I'm trying to sell them the guitar equivalent of rustproofing on a new car when I offer the service on a new neck, but it's the truth.

GigsbyBoy, as long as you can source frets that are the right size, it's always feasible. Sometimes it's hard to find frets that are the exact same width as something that came from the factory, so they'll look a little funny.

I'd recommend a full level & crown to go along with replacing those frets because the rest of the frets are going to have some wear too, even if it's not as bad as the first few.
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