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How Much Fret Wear Do You See?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by bgmacaw, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. tvas22

    tvas22 Tele-Meister

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    I had just one guitar for the first fifteen years of playing, and I play 11s or 12s with a pretty heavy hand. I have found I need to touch up the frets every two-three years. That first guitar got a refret after about fifteen years, then another a couple of years ago when I’d learned how to do it a little better and got some better tools.

    I am lucky though in that I have really, really dry hands. Never seem to get gunky strings, and I can always tell when someone else has played my guitar. I wonder if the clamminess that eats through strings also affects frets...?
     
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  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I dont know, but yeah those are what I get, but a little less sharp V shape.. Have you considered just replacing a few frets instead of taking them all down lower? I've done that and prefer it.
     
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  3. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Meister

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    I've come across many used guitars with wear like that in the open chords position and have wondered the same. I asked about this once somewhere and was told that you can't just replace the frets on the first few positions. This made no sense to me. Why re-fret an entire neck when it's only a few frets in the lower position that need it? I have one guitar currently, which belonged to a high school friend, that could use this treatment.
     
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  4. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had a couple of guitars where I wore divots in the 1 - 3 frets, but it didn't make enough difference to me in the way they played to do anything about it.

    There was also some flattening out of the higher frets where I played the most with bends and vibrato.

    It's odd, but the frets always looked worse than they played. I like a high enough action to be able to get a solid push or pull on a string with my fingers.
    .
     
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  5. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yes, as I said I have done it. Also done like fret 3, 7-9 etc It works fine. The frets dont know! Just use a fret rocker and get them all level. However, if frets have been previously leveled or messed with, or too many are in bad shape then just refret is the thing to do.
     
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  6. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It was a toss-up on these. The frets on the upper part of the neck were flat and never crowned properly. Plus, I don't really like the M/J frets, so I am looking to replace all of them if I live that long. Frankly, the Strat doesn't get my kilt up either... Maybe I'll dump it when I am done. I have yet to own a Jazzmaster...
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    He is probably still trying to sell it.
     
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  8. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It is done all the time - called a partial refret. The nice thing about it is you usually don't have to cut a new nut if you don't remove too much material when leveling.
     
  9. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Every time I've use the EB Cobalt strings they turn my finger tips black, but I've never seen them turn frets black; probably because I'm stringing them up on other people's guitars.
     
  10. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I had an epiphone dobro style guitar made in Korea maybe in the early 90's-frets wore out super fast. Never bought another epiphone -it was the only one I have really noticed being really bad
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    FWIW, I would also imagine certain string alloys wear frets faster than others.
     
  12. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    My 2012 MIM FSR tele showed fret wear way too early compared to all of my other guitars over the years. I think it is due to some soft wire that probably should not have made it past quality control, because I have not read about it as being a big issue.
     
  13. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Tele-Meister

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    I have never worn the frets in any noticeable way on any guitar, even the ones I gigged weekly with.

    I think the fact that I play in open E means that I spend a lot of time playing up and down the fretboard with chords, so I don’t just hammer on the first 3 frets constantly. Also I play with 9s on electric, 11s on acoustic, and play with a light touch with minimal bending.

    I guess those are the keys to long fret life..

    being heavy handed with the pressure on the strings is a big part of wear, IMO. I’ve had friends who were used to high action on acoustic, and just wreaked havoc on frets when the action was set to “normal” and these guys continued the monkey grip.
     
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  14. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    like i said, i don't know anything about those strings. i could never get him to articulate what it was about them he liked. i think he just mashed down on the strings too hard.

    but what do i know...i've only been playing 35 years or so.
     
  15. Geo

    Geo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The main culprit I've found over the years is neck needing correct truss rod adjustment.
     
  16. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Some cheap old guitars, like Kays, had brass frets that are a very soft brass or bronze. I had a Red Devil like that. Gave it to a friend, he had it refretted. Fret wear was a serious issue with those guitars.
     
  17. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    I have seen some wear on my guitars, however most of them are second hand and more than ten years old, several bordering on 20+. My Anniversary Broadcaster (although not low priced even by the faintest of definitions) doesn't show any signs yet and I have been playing it almost exclusively for the last two months (I got it the Saturday after U.S. Thanksgiving.). I have really seen it on my '96 Am. St. Tele. and my '06 Jet King II, like they are noticeable more worn than when I got them but they were both used and over ten when I got them. I exclusively use 9-42 gauge strings, mainly because that is what they were set up for at the shop where I got them, its what I have in my guitar maintence box, and I have a lot of new sets...like more than 10 sets so why not use them up. So string gauge is not necessarily a deciding factor. I think of it like one would think of weathering and erosion in nature. But, these are just my thoughts.
     
  18. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    715E85DC-F9BD-421F-9D2C-0B4AE1BA4DA0.jpeg Don’t use stainless steel strings or any exotic material of strings. Get a neck with stainless frets - they’ll be harder steel than most strings sold and will last forever. If you gravitate to one guitar and play it a lot, stainless steel frets will give you almost limitless longevity. AllParts has a nice Tele neck with stainless frets. Warmoth also offers the option. Forget all the wives tales about changing the tone of the guitar. I didn’t find that when I had my Tele re-fretted with stainless frets.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
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  19. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I just levelled and crowned the frets on my Classic Player 50s, 14 years old and played a lot. My MIJ needs a refret after 25 years, next job up, when I get around to it.
     
  20. breadfreak

    breadfreak TDPRI Member

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    +1. It only occurred to me recently that a string pressed against a worn fret is very likely to be passing over other worn frets on its way to the bridge, solving the mystery of why the strings don't buzz on either of my pretty worn guitars.
     
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