Custom Shop Telecaster Frets Wornout Early

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by Tenderfoot, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot Tele-Meister

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    How have the frets on your Custom Shop Telecaster worn? Have they been reworked or replaced and, if yes, how long was it before such maintenance was required? Details are below as to why I am asking for this information.

    Thanks

    Recently my Fender Custom Shop Postmodern NOS Telecaster started ringing when either the D or G strings were plucked while not fretted and when playing an open G cord at the 4th fret with a capo on the 3rd fret. After changing pickups, saddles, strings, tuners and bridge plate in a failed self-effort to resolve the issue; the only thing left was the nut which I had replaced and this cleared up some of the ringing but not enough to be playable without having an annoying ring (also picked up in recordings).

    I contacted Fender Customer Care and was directed to Ron Pace Guitar Repair in Houston, TX for evaluation. I know Ron and over the years have had him setup my guitars so I knew that if anyone could find the issue he could.

    Ron did a complete setup and got rid of 90+% of the ringing but concluded that I needed a complete fret job to get rid of all the ringing. We called Fender warranty and (as you might guess) they said the frets were not a warranty covered part. Well I knew this but I requested they replace them under warranty as I only had the guitar less than 2 years and aside from a couple of “Open Mic’s” didn’t gig with it with mainly only home use a few hours a week. In my opinion the frets shouldn’t have worn to a point where they needed to be replaced in such a short time and not heavily played (Ron also found it unusual to have such fret wear on a Custom Shop guitar that was less than two years old even if it was gigged regularly).

    Fender has said they will review the issue and get back to Ron with their decision. That was yesterday so we will see how it goes.
     
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  2. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    I am the third owner of my master built Nocaster that I picked up about a month ago. I am the third owner. I know the previous owner and It wasn't gigged alot with him. I don't know how often it was gigged with the previous owner. But the previous owner knows the original owner. I'll be seeing him this weekend so maybe I'll ask.
    Its a 2008 an the frets are amazing. They were recently dressed and crowned.
    My newest acquisition a Wildwood Dealer select custom shop 55 strat, the frets are great on it. As for longevity, its a brand new guitar and I've only had it since Monday so that remains to be seen.
    I'm sorry you have not had a good experience. Hopefully this is just a rare issue. I haven't heard of any stories like this personally, concerning the Fender custom shop guitars.
     
  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    First, can you post a picture of the wear? Is there more than 1/3 of the fret height gone? When you fret at the fret position of most wear....lightly fretted....is your finger touching the fretboard? If not, the frets can be leveled and dressed.
    Secondly, not only has your fretting worn out the frets but every note you played was sharp. You are using excessive fretting pressure. I know this from almost 6 decades of playing and three decades of working for other people...seeing and hearing how their fretting technique was not only causing excessive wear but their notes could not possible be in tune no matter how well the guitar was set up. This is why fret wear is not covered under a warranty.....it is ‘wear’ and not a basic defect in the construction of the guitar.
    I have a ‘strat’ type guitar I built for myself about 20years ago.....there is the barest bit of fret wear visible. In about 1995, I bought a 1965 Strat from the widow of the original owner. The back of the neck was worn bare from play from the 1st fret area to the curve of the neck heel....all of it bare and polished by his playing. One: it was not sanded or ‘steel wooled’ to yield that are feel...An experienced eye can always see when that was done. The guitar had the original large frets, Nd there was barely any visible wear. That player knew how to fret a guitar. On the other hand, I have leveled and dressed a 6 month old guitar due to severe fret wear. That player is one to whom I would care to listen....no music to be had with that fretting pressure.
    Contrary to many people’s opinion, there is only one correct way of fretting any fretted 8nstrumwnt....play with the finger as close to the fret as possible without being on top of the fret with as little pressure as possible. When one plays this way, the hand relaxes, one’s accuracy and speed can increase, and IF the guitar is well set up, the notes will be in tune.
     
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  4. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Hmm....I dont know about that. SRV needed his no1 refretted every year. Are you saying that SRV didn't know how to fret a note properly?
     
  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Extreme bending can flatten fret tops...different than divots...to the point where the intonation and tone are affected. SRV put a lot of effort into his bending....and bent a lot. I can see where there would be a need to maintain the shape of the top of the frets. As for having to refret due to that, some players are very finicky about the fret height and don’t want to lose any height to a level and dress.....so they refret.
     
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  6. Zeonoid

    Zeonoid Tele-Holic

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    never go for steel frets when refretting..they completely ruined the sound of my vintage acoustic
     
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  7. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Interesting. What would be the best metal for a re fret? If one needs to be re done, other than the current fret metal.
     
  8. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Steel is definitely the best,it is a Tele not an acoustic guitar.

    After fifteen years I have recently refreted my no 1 with SS frets,zero sound difference through the amp (a bit louder and clearer acoustically) but they feel so smooth and "glidy" and knowing that I will never need another refret (I have a very light touch in both hands and never squeeze down like so many players do) is a plus.
     
  9. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks Nick. I have a Les Paul that will prob need a re fret in the next year or so. Just trying to figure out the beat way to go.
     
  10. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot Tele-Meister

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    IMG_2280.JPG

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to all who have commented this thread; after a rather long email chain with Fender the outcome was as expected, "Frets not covered by warranty - End of Story!" The Customer Relations representative was understanding but the warranty manager apparently wasn't. FWIW I cancelled my order for a 64 Deluxe Reverb Hand-wired due to Fender's (Black & White) attitude of not even wanting to investigate if there was a possibility of bad fret wire (which based on what I have read, has happened in the past). They must feel that their Custom Shop Production is at Six Sigma Level!

    The ringing is still there, albeit much less, and it looks like I will need to get a refret sooner than later (to keep the guitar in playable condition).

    Wally, when fretting at the deepest wear point(s) my finger is not touching the fret board so getting a level & dress is an option to look at for the interim.

    Thanks to all for your comments, much appreciated.
     
  11. KCJonez

    KCJonez Tele-Holic

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    I am hardly an expert but i get fret grooves like that from playing. And when they get too deep, the shops i go to do a level and crown and everything is right as rain. Why the need for a full refret?
     
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  12. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I think you need to find a different tech. Get a second opinion. If you still have clearance left I'm not sure why they wouldn't suggest a fret level and dress first.

    Also, why did you replace all those parts on the guitar? Hard to think its a Custom Shop instrument anymore.

    Does the Fender warranty even apply after replacing nut, pickups, tuners, saddles and bridge plate? I'd be really surprised if it did. Do people just not have trusted shops anymore? A good shop could have told you the issue was not the pickups, saddles, nut, bridge plate or TUNERS.

    Anyway, good luck; this should have good ending with a fret dress sand level, I'd think. And learning lighter touch, as @Wally said. Consider, if Fender got a run of bad wire, it would be endemic and epidemic on a large number of guitars. Highly unlikely. And highly unlikely only a section small enough to go on a few frets on one guitar would be bad. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
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  13. KCJonez

    KCJonez Tele-Holic

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    Lol. It’s like getting an appendectomy when a bottle of tums would have done the trick. Sounds like some serious overthinking here.
     
  14. MattyK-USA

    MattyK-USA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I feel the OP's pain here, but yeah. Sure sounds like some less-than-ideal advice has been given in this case by the tech. :(
     
  15. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot Tele-Meister

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    Thanks to all who have left comments. Here are some answers to the questions to kind of clear the air.

    1. With the exception of the Nut all parts were already in my parts bin and, at the time of taking the guitar to Ron Pace for setup, I had reinstalled the original CS Postmodern NOS parts that came with the guitar. I did the replacements to eliminate all non-warranty items as the cause for the ringing (things which Fender could raise as possibilities and require replacement prior to any warranty approval). When I contacted Fender Customer Care I was asked if such items had been evaluated. They told me to let them know if the ringing continued after the Nut replacement, which I did. With Ron saying that only the frets remained that could be causing the ringing I asked Ron to call Fender for warranty.
    2. I've been using Pace Guitar for over 5 years and he has always been upfront when doing business with me and has taken care of my Tele's to my complete satisfaction. Please note that he didn't get the guitar to evaluate initially; so please do not look (on Ron) negatively as too his skillset as a pro-luthier (which to pickers in Houston area are considered number 1).
    3. I am going to do the suggestion of getting a second opinion on Fret & Dress vs. a complete Re-fret (makes sense too do so)
    4. Overkill, Overthinking, Surgery when Tums would suffice; I can appreciate why such comments would be made, especially without all the factors being known. However I tend to be Pro-active and being well prepared to present my case/claim - which includes data that shows where all the possible factors have been dually addressed whereby only the significant ones or one are/is left.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  16. Zeonoid

    Zeonoid Tele-Holic

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    I completely disagree with that. Steel frets ruined my original sound I had with vintage frets. It has become more percusive but in negative meaning. I lost the feel of body Lower frequencies and lower mids
     
  17. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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  18. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    In your ACOUSTIC guitar MAYBE.

    But here we are talking about a slab of wood a bolted on neck and 2 coils (that go through an AMP.) ..:D
     
  19. Zeonoid

    Zeonoid Tele-Holic

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    Well I have done with steel frets my electric too. It was CORT Hiram Bullock signature model in H-S-H configuration with very similar destroying result
     
  20. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    What can I say,many top end and boutique guitar builders use only SS frets and their guitars sound amazing so we will have to put YOUR opinion against theirs....;)

    Personally I haven't noticed any sound difference but a MAJOR playing comfort (for the better) difference.

    Makes me wonder though WHY would you put SS frets on a SECOND guitar after they "ruined" your first one?
     
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