Stainless frets after 6000 hours of playing time

Brad1

TDPRI Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Posts
6
Location
Pittsburgh
Sure thing. Pete Skermetta, the owner at Rocket Science has refretted 4 guitars for me with stainless frets. His fret work is superb and I am super picky. He charges about $400 for a stainless steel refret on a bolt on neck. Pete is in Austin, TX. Here is his webpage: https://www.rockitscienceguitars.com/

I grabbed this fretwork picture from Pete's page
933107_9ec951e840194811b8197faa0f22e015.jpg

Thank you so much. That's a good price.
 

Frankentar

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Posts
18
Location
Pacific Northwest
Great post — thanks! Your discipline puts my practice habits to shame. 8~)

Aaron, the guy at Warmoth who makes their (very informative) videos, posted one that directly compares the sounds of nickel vs. stainless steel frets. (Spoiler alert - there’s not much difference.) Worth a look:



Personally, I -love- SS frets. Typically, fret wear is an unfortunate consequence of guitar playing. But not so much with stainless steel. Not only have I never had to replace them, but they are a delight to bend. They’re very slippery, as other posts have noted. And if you bend a lot, as I do, they can give your playing a more “fluid” sound.

Because of their hardness, they’re also more difficult to install and to dress. I don’t love everything about Warmoth, but I must say that their SS option is a real bargain. At the time of your order, you can upgrade your frets to SS for just $20 or $25 more. Try getting your guitar tech to use stainless steel in a whole-neck fret replacement for just $25 over nickel!
 

Seanfo

TDPRI Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2021
Posts
3
Age
39
Location
AURORA COLORADO
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

Great playing and thanks for the ss fret experience comments!
 

Greg2222

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2017
Posts
32
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Love the playing, you can hear the fruits of all those hours.

I'd love to see how much wear you are putting into the finish of the guitar, if it is lacquer finished. I imagine if it is polyurethane it is holding up pretty well.
 

Telekarster

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Posts
5,651
Location
Earth
Fliippin' cool rendition of HJ man!!! I dig your style ;) Really good to know and thanks for your analysis. Mind if I ask you what this typically costs you to refret? I may end up doing this myself at some point so would like to know what the avg is on that cost. Really cool man!
 

sparente

NEW MEMBER!
Joined
May 12, 2020
Posts
2
Age
63
Location
Hilo
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

Good info and nice playing!
 

Blues Twanger

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 4, 2007
Posts
1,444
Location
SoVT
Back in my early days or tech'ing Op was exactly the player we would recommend stainless frets to. Somebody who would otherwise need a heavily-playes guitar to regretted every six months to a year would benefit from the extra expense over time. More casual players or instruments that were not in heavy rotation we usually didn't mention SS because it was more costly to the owner and more difficult to work with for the tech.

This was before the idea that SS made for smoother bending came along. While it may be true I still maintain a well dressed and polished traditional fretwire does just as well for all but the top 0.1% or less of players in that regard.

Also, congrats to OP for playing one guitar so dang much. It must be a good pairing.
 

SRHmusic

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Oct 19, 2020
Posts
1,710
Location
North Carolina, USA
Good info.

SS frets greatly affect the feel of the guitar (i.e. tension/bends). That may be bad/good depending upon the player.

...
I guess if you play a ton, are hard on frets & don't mind the "silky" SS feel, it's a great option.

My big question:
Can "upgrading" to SS frets f'up the feel/tone of your favorite ax (akin to putting super durable tires on your car; they last a long time, but the ride is no longer as good as what the engineers originally designed .. there's always a tradeoff).
It sounds like your prefer some slight roughness to your frets? I find stainless steel frets not much different than how nickel steel frets feel after a good recrown and polish, and by that I mean a final buffing with a polishing paste. It didn't take but a week or two for my nickel steel frets to lose their high gloss, and about a month or two for the crowns to be noticeably wearing and starting to divot.

Perhaps you prefer that feel? For me it's the opposite. I find the stainless steel frets help the guitar feel good, clean and ready to go every time. I don't find as much black crud building up on the strings when wiping them down, probably some of that was nickel steel(!). The crowns and leveling hold up really well, with no adjustments needed after the frets have settled (I always find a few that get a little high within the first year on new necks or refrets, taken care of with spot leveling).

So I prefer both the accurate feel and easy bending (I bend a lot). As to the tone, I find a clearer 'ping' when picking a fretted note, and I bet some of that is from having a good crown, and some from the additional hardness of the material. It sounds good to me, though, like the note is clearer.
 

57Strat777

TDPRI Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Posts
32
Location
Texas
There have been a few comments in this thread about how SS frets affect tone. Here is an unplugged recording (no amp) I made with the same guitar w/ SS frets in the OP. I personally don't hear anything unpleasant with the tone. What do you guys think?

 

57Strat777

TDPRI Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Posts
32
Location
Texas
Fliippin' cool rendition of HJ man!!! I dig your style ;) Really good to know and thanks for your analysis. Mind if I ask you what this typically costs you to refret? I may end up doing this myself at some point so would like to know what the avg is on that cost. Really cool man!
Thank you very much for your kind words! The most recent pricing is about $400 for SS refret on a bolt on neck. That $400 includes a new bone nut. This is up substantially from pricing in 2016 which was $300. I use Rocket Science Guitars in Austin. Pete the owner does superb fretwork. His link is below:

 

57Strat777

TDPRI Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Posts
32
Location
Texas
Love the playing, you can hear the fruits of all those hours.

I'd love to see how much wear you are putting into the finish of the guitar, if it is lacquer finished. I imagine if it is polyurethane it is holding up pretty well.
It looks like brand new. I am very careful with my guitars. I bought this Strat new in 1991 and have had it ever since. It is on its second neck.

Vtxaa35.jpg


ZI6JXIq.jpg
 

deathtofishy

TDPRI Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2015
Posts
10
Location
Reno, NV
Seriously though. How the heck is your finish, especially on the neck, in such great shape?!?! I'm assuming the second neck has 6000 hours + whatever time before the refret.

Good on you for the commitment to your instrument BTW.
 

Telekarster

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Posts
5,651
Location
Earth
You've had that strat since 1991??? And it looks like THAT????? Wow.... I've got guitars 2 years old that look like they're 30 years old by comparison LOL!!!
 

Telekarster

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Posts
5,651
Location
Earth
There have been a few comments in this thread about how SS frets affect tone. Here is an unplugged recording (no amp) I made with the same guitar w/ SS frets in the OP. I personally don't hear anything unpleasant with the tone. What do you guys think?



Sweet action man. Interestingly, your playing reminds me a lot of Jerry Douglas LOL!!! Super cool man!
 

brians356

Tele-Meister
Joined
Apr 4, 2011
Posts
357
Location
Reno, NV
I do my own refretting, and some for paying customers as a sideline. SS is hard on cutting and leveling tools, and if not radiused properly it wants to spring back if not glued in (which I always do anyway.) I much prefer the compromise of Evo Gold wire sold by both LMI and StewMac. Metallurgical composition is CuSn15Fe1Ti0.1. The yellowish color is somewhat offputting for me, but it's quality wire, installs easily, and holds up several times longer than nickel-silver, yet is not hard on tools. Available crown profiles are somewhat limited, however.
-
 

Telekarster

Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Posts
5,651
Location
Earth
Do you have kids? That is reason so many guitars get ‘relic’d’ in such a short period of time.

No kids don't have access to my gear. I gig with mine and so things just sort of "happen" to em. Wear and tear via clothing, buckles, acids from sweat, etc. etc. of course, all my guitars are nitro too so... that's prob part of it I guess ;)
 




New Posts

Top