Stainless frets after 6000 hours of playing time

57Strat777

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I thought you guys might like to hear about the fret wear on my Strat that has Jescar stainless frets. I have about 6000 hours of playing time on these frets. The frets are the largest that Jescar makes (model 58118-S), which are .058" tall and .118" wide. I had these frets installed in January of 2016. I play from 3-4 hours every day and only miss playing my guitar 2 or 3 days a year. I have other guitars but this Strat gets played 90% of the time. A conservative estimate is I'm putting over 1000 hours per year of playing time on this Strat, so about 6000 total hours of playing time on the frets over the last 6 years. I also wipe mineral oil on the strings and the back of the neck before I play to reduce hand friction. I imagine the mineral oil may also reduce wear on the frets to a slight degree. I use D'Addario Nickel Wound 10-46 strings. I am an aggressive player and tend to wear out standard frets in about a year or about 1000 hours. I hope these details help in understanding the variables.

I just had the second fret level done due to fret wear. The first fret level was done about 3 years ago. So I am needing a fret level about every 3000 hours. The frets started out new at .058" tall and after the second level the frets are now .049" tall. I start having occasional issues bending strings when the frets get below .050, so it won't be long before I'll get it refretted. Based on my experience with standard frets versus stainless frets, I would say you'll get about 6 times the life out of a set of stainless frets over standard material frets. I hope this information helps people when it comes time to get their guitar refretted

If you want to hear the guitar and my playing style, here's a Hey Joe cover:



Here is the guitar:

DllDZDi.jpg
 

Milspec

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Interesting to read your results, I wonder if using that mineral oil is speeding up the wear?

I recall reading studies back in the early '90's comparing mineral-based oils to synthetic and they found that mineral-based oils had a measureable softening effect on metals such as nickel and copper but not much effect on stainless steel due to it's protective nature. Throw in a lot of string bending and the mineral oil could scrape away nickel frets much faster.

That mineral oil could also be softening the strings or adding some faster corrosion as mineral oil can become acidic when exposed to moisture due to the natural salt content in all mineral-based oils.

Basically, I am wondering if you would see greater life without the mineral oil?

I am not a bender much at all and play about 2 hours every night. I do rotate guitars though, often during each session so my strings and frets share the load between instruments. I have not had to replace any frets yet after 7 years. I have to dress them every 2 years or so, but have not worn them down enough to require replacement.

My only ritual is to wash my hands with sporicidin hand soap which removes all the oils and leaves my hands really smooth....slides along the strings silky for about an hour. Then I wipe down the strings after playing.
 

DugT

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I loved your recording! I'd guess you play about five times better than me.

I also love SS frets. My strength is being "Shrewd" and I like to play a guitar with SS frets for a couple of years and have the option of selling it in like new condition because of next to no fret wear.

It is a bonus that SS frets stay so smooth for easier string bending.
 

old wrench

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This is a great example of why I use only stainless frets on my necks.

It takes a lot of dedication to play for hours every single day

Nice looking Strat !!!


edit - It sounds like the mineral oil works for you - keep on using it! - it certainly won't have any ill effect on the frets

.
 
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eallen

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Interesting findings & cudos for playing dedication.

Fret wear depends drastically on the player in my experience. My theory is how high the strings were on the guitar they learned from poor setup determines how hard a player learns to press down on the strings. Some play many hours on standard frets with little wear. Others go thru them.

Eric
 

telemnemonics

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Useful info, I have just one SS fret neck in that same fret size.
I can relate to getting a refret when many players still think the frets are kinda big.
Lots of bending is how I wear frets, never small divots just all across the tops all up and down the neck.
The Warmoth with SS has ebony board plus is a fatback full 1” and sounds a bit on the shrill side, even having replaced an older ebony board Warmoth neck on the same guitar.
Not problem tone just notably different.
 

highwaycat

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If you don’t wanna feel the fingerboard you could scallope the fretboard, those pair good with tall frets.
 

SRHmusic

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Great info. And nice guitar!

I've switched to stainless steel frets on four guitars (in different ways- refret, new necks, etc.). My #1 and #2 Strats have about 1000 hours each in the last three or four years and #1 shows just slight signs of wear in a couple spots.

Prior to this I had to level, recrown, polish my main guitar every five to six months. I enjoyed the process at first, but that means I'd need them refretted every couple years. I'd much rather play and not even think about the wear.

(And Musikraft and others only have a ~$30 up charge, so it really bugs me that more guitars don't come with ss standard or as an option.)

Edit- Hey nice playing, too. Thanks for sharing that. Sounds good.
 

coolrene

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Nice playing: are you finger-picking or do you use a pick ?
I have several guitars with SS frets.
Dunlop 6100. Used them for more than 6000 hours up until now without seeing any noticeable wear…
 

rd1113

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I have been installing ss frets on some customer guitars, acoustic and electric, for about six years now and so far have had zero complaints. I have heard things from players like Tommy Emmanuel who has my beaucoup respect but he said he has tried playing on ss frets, enjoys the sound only his hands begin to hurt after a time. I like them myself but I gotta wonder about TE's remark and how they might affect some players. Thanks for the great info!
 

StevesBoogie

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Well written post! And really great improv ideas in the recording. But you have me curious if all of your guitars have SS frets!

I got my Tele refretted two years ago with SS and I've never looked back. I won't exaggerate and say I can hear a tone difference, but there is absolutely no doubt, I can feel a difference. It adds a cool slinkiness to the playing experience. Kinda hard to pick up my other guitars that have nickel frets, LOL.
 

57Strat777

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Well written post! And really great improv ideas in the recording. But you have me curious if all of your guitars have SS frets!

I got my Tele refretted two years ago with SS and I've never looked back. I won't exaggerate and say I can hear a tone difference, but there is absolutely no doubt, I can feel a difference. It adds a cool slinkiness to the playing experience. Kinda hard to pick up my other guitars that have nickel frets, LOL.
Thank you Sir! I love what SS frets offer. Anytime a guitar needs a refret I always go with SS frets. Currently I have 2 Strats, AO 50's Tele, and a Custom Shop Les Paul 58 RI that all have SS frets. I have a few more guitars that are still with the original frets, but as soon as these need a fret level, I'm going to have them refretted with SS. I have settled on the Jescar 6100 size (.057" x .110") as my preferred size for 25.5" and 24 3/4" scale. The 6000 size (.058" x .118") in the OP makes it a little tight on the highest frets due to the width of the frets.

BTW...I can't tell any difference in the tone between standard and SS frets. Even if there was a slight difference in tone, it is not anything that tweaking the treble knob on your amp won't fix.
 
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