Stainless frets after 6000 hours of playing time

barnaclebill

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 3, 2008
Posts
24
Location
Auckland
I think playing style and string gauge have a lot to do with that. For example I bought an American Original 50's Tele a couple of years ago which has the vintage size frets (~.040 high) and a 9.5" radius. With 10-46 strings and the vintage frets it was super tough to bend strings. The difficulty is getting your finger under the strings to bend it because the fret is not high enough. So I dropped the tuning down a 1/2 step to make bending easier which helped somewhat. I recently got that guitar refretted with Jescar stainless 6100 size frets and now it is a rock and roll machine.

With taller frets there is less contact between your fingers and the fretboard. This means you can apply less pressure with your finger for the note to ring out. This in turn makes bending, pull-offs and tapping easier.
I rely enjoy mornings that come with an aha moment. I've been doing my own setups for years and found that I can get the strings very low but then can't get my finger to catch the string for the bend. So then I raise the strings a bit until I can bend easily. Then of course I have to push down a bit further for clean fretting. Yes I have vintage frets on several guitars and your explanation makes perfect sense. Why didn't you tell me this years ago? :)
I do wonder what magic Clapton used to do those bends on his Strat with those skinny frets.
 

Pickncluck

TDPRI Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2022
Posts
8
Age
69
Location
Boston
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

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.
Hi, 57Strat777 Thanks so much for your very helpful posting. I have a few guitars on deck for fret work, & have been disappointed over how quickly my past standard nickel fret jobs wore down, when I was a more active player. Years ago, I picked up (& still own) a Goya semi-hollow electric with two single coil p/u's mounted in this funky rectangular metal floating chassis, that could be screws-raised or lowered to adjust p/u height, and had an unusual clear plastic scalloped fingerboard, with stainless steel frets. Man, those ss frets seemed like they'd last forever! The guitar was actually made by Hagstrom. Talk about a Euro-funky looking guitar! But it played & sounded decent, and I had a lot of fun with it, before I really got into Gibsons & Fenders. Hey, speaking of which, your Strat looks a lot like my '57 Strat. From your TDPRI handle, I'm guessing yours is a '57 too? A nice honey, isn't it? I put modern Strat bridge pieces on mine also. Someone unscrewed & swiped my replacement whammy bar. I like the look of yours better! Cheers, and thanks again!
 

itsGiusto

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Posts
1,047
Location
US
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

I'm curious what people think. For most cases, does it really make sense to refret a strat neck? Back in 2016 a tech told me my strat needed a refret, too low to be leveled. He quoted me $400 or so to do the job. I priced out a pretty identical replacement neck on Warmoth, and it was also around $400.
 

DanglingNutslots

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Posts
207
Location
Canada
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 ;)
Haven’t gigged with my nitro finished guitars yet but I have a Les Paul that’s begging to be taken out.
 

DanglingNutslots

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Posts
207
Location
Canada
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.
-
I wore out StewMac’s fret levelling rocker just evening out the stainless frets on one freakin’ guitar.
 

pippoman

Tele-Holic
Silver Supporter
Joined
Feb 21, 2014
Posts
937
Location
Memphis
Thank you very much! I am using a pick in the OP recording.
Thanks, that’s very encouraging! I had Aperio install the same speck’d SS frets on my Strat Plus a couple years ago and they still feel and look fresh. I don’t play it as much as you do yours (I’m mostly a Tele guy), but I enjoy my Strat much, much more now. I actually sent him the whole guitar so he could do an accurate set up and I have to say Greg Hails, the owner/operator, does impeccable work, and he’s a very nice dude to work with. I literally haven’t adjusted a single thing on it since I got it back and it’s about as close to perfect as can be. When my Tele needs a refret (probably qualifies for one now), I’m sending it out to Greg for a SS fret job.
 

pippoman

Tele-Holic
Silver Supporter
Joined
Feb 21, 2014
Posts
937
Location
Memphis
This is a great post. I have been looking into SS frets for a while now. After getting string buzz, I had my frets leveled and it played nice for about a month before I had worn them back into fret buzz. I play about 2-3 hours per session and 3-4 times per week, not as much as you, but certainly enough to burn through nickel frets in no time.

How much did the installation of SS frets cost?
I was out a little over $420 two years ago, maybe more like 2.5 years. Mind you, that included freight & insurance for the whole guitar to and fro and a great setup. You can ship just the neck and it’s obviously going to cost less. But, you and I are probably never gonna wear out a set of SS frets. I shouldn’t speak for you, but I’m too old to wear them out!

It’s pricey, but it’s top notch quality and I’ll use only him moving forward. He only does SS frets and provides his own fret wire, thank you. I say that because i ran an auto upholstery shop for about 40 years and had people trying to lowball me because they bought their own raw goods. I refused that offer for numerous reasons.
 

mystichands

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Posts
144
Location
NW Colorado
Really nice cover! Ive never refretted my old Strat, but the divits don’t get in my way. I bought a ss fretted replacement neck a couple years ago but I didn’t like the overall feel. But I have about 6 guitars I use for different types of music I play, so I’m flexible with using one over another if I need to. If I get another ss neck it will be a Warmoth for sure.
 

brians356

Tele-Meister
Joined
Apr 4, 2011
Posts
357
Location
Reno, NV
I wore out StewMac’s fret levelling rocker just evening out the stainless frets on one freakin’ guitar.
Speaking of fret rockers, I don't like the StewMac one, I much prefer LMI's which is anodized aluminum and (more importantly) thicker, so it could sit unattended on the frets without tipping over (not that I need it to.) It's just a better design IMO.

Having said, I assume you're exaggerating slightly about wearing your steel StewMac rocker out, yes?
-
 

Big Swifty

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2016
Posts
7
Age
60
Location
Australia
One variation in SS frets is the actual hardness, as in not all stainless's are equal, apparently...
I have a Parker Fly Deluxe bought new in 1994 and gigged in a show 5-7 shows a week for 10 years (two seperate 5 year stints), the in between years it was sessions and light duty really.. it required a fret dress about 5 years ago now. That's about twenty-five odd years of playing. But those frets are extra hard, there's an interview someplace with Ken Parker talking about ht manufacturing process etc... ultra hardened. Feel great though!
And..
I'm curious what people think. For most cases, does it really make sense to refret a strat neck? Back in 2016 a tech told me my strat needed a refret, too low to be leveled. He quoted me $400 or so to do the job. I priced out a pretty identical replacement neck on Warmoth, and it was also around $400.
To my mind, the neck is the one part of the guitar you handle the most. If the neck feels good to play, the guitar feels good. If the neck feels bad, then.. This is all personal preference of course, however if you have a neck that feels great to you, then yes, absolutely worth having it re-fretted rather than trying to find a suitable replacement, I reckon!
 

jmcdonnell

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2022
Posts
3
Age
65
Location
Usa
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

Thanks for such a long term study; very informative. Nice Strat btw
 

old wrench

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Posts
3,179
Location
corner of walk and don't walk
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.


I'm always looking for a way to make my necks better and give players what they want -

On your next re-fret, you might try what I've been doing on some necks to get the most out of your frets - get the fret width you want, without getting crowded on the higher frets ;)



On fret 1 through fret 12 I use 51108

On frets 13 and up, I use 51100

That way you still have the wide fret width you prefer on most of the neck, but on the higher frets, where the frets are closer together, you drop down one size on the fret width.

It gives a little extra room up in the higher frets - enough to make a noticeable difference.

It might seem an odd way to fret a neck to some folks, but it makes for a more playable neck - that is what really matters to me

There aren't any draw-back to fretting a neck in this way - no extra work, and no intonation issues or anything like that.




You say you like 58118 ?

You could use 58118 on frets 1 through 12 - and then use 57110 for 13 and up -

Yes, I know there is .001" height difference in those two wire sizes :) - but that .001" disappears in the first couple of strokes when you do your leveling, especially if you put a touch of fall-away in the higher frets

You never know until you try it ;)

.
 

Scooter Thomas

TDPRI Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Posts
74
Location
Austin
About 3 months ago I got my first guitar with ss frets, a custom tele. I bought it to scratch my tele itch and to buy time to decide what to do about my worn out '72 SG. My take on ss frets is where have you been all my life! So the SG is in for a refret, went with ss 47104... man I hope this works and my baby returns to decent intonation, fingers crossed.
 

57Strat777

TDPRI Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Posts
32
Location
Texas
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.

The OP guitar started out as a 1991 Strat Plus Deluxe that I bought new in 1991. When it came time for a refret, I changed the neck out to a Clapton signature neck with jumbo frets. The poly finish is super tough on the body and neck. Any time there is a scratch I just buff it out with car polish and it looks like new again. The fretboard looks great because my fingers rarely touch the fretboard when using super jumbo frets. I thoroughly clean the guitar every time I change strings, which is about once a month.
 

DanglingNutslots

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Posts
207
Location
Canada
Speaking of fret rockers, I don't like the StewMac one, I much prefer LMI's which is anodized aluminum and (more importantly) thicker, so it could sit unattended on the frets without tipping over (not that I need it to.) It's just a better design IMO.

Having said, I assume you're exaggerating slightly about wearing your steel StewMac rocker out, yes?
-
Not the fret rocker used for finding uneven frets, it’s a similar design, much thicker and has built-in files at every end. It’s a version of the fret rocker that also levels frets. I’ll see if I can find a link. And yes, I wore it out.

edit: https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-too...ls-for-fretting/leveling/stewmac-fret-kisser/
 

DanglingNutslots

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Posts
207
Location
Canada
About 3 months ago I got my first guitar with ss frets, a custom tele. I bought it to scratch my tele itch and to buy time to decide what to do about my worn out '72 SG. My take on ss frets is where have you been all my life! So the SG is in for a refret, went with ss 47104... man I hope this works and my baby returns to decent intonation, fingers crossed.
For a really smooth feel, try Elixir Optiwebs with the stainless frets. Effortless bending.
 

stormin1155

Tele-Holic
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Posts
798
Location
Iowa
I don't believe it. Your guitar looks WAY too pristine. EVERYONE knows if you play your guitar as much as you do it would look like this.

1649768994909.png
 

jman72

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Aug 31, 2013
Posts
2,034
Location
Central Florida
I'm curious what people think. For most cases, does it really make sense to refret a strat neck? Back in 2016 a tech told me my strat needed a refret, too low to be leveled. He quoted me $400 or so to do the job. I priced out a pretty identical replacement neck on Warmoth, and it was also around $400.
Yeah, you can get a Warmoth standard unfinished Tele/Strat neck (maple or rosewood) with SS frets and Tusq nut for ~$230. Add some Tru oil or spray with a little lacquer and your done (well, you might need to do some fret/nut setup work, too)! But, if I had that "special" guitar, of course I'd probably pay for a re-fret.

But I've got a light touch so I don't wear my frets out anyway. I watched this guy on Youtube several years ago talking about how most people fret way too hard, and he talked about learning to fret with the LEAST pressure possible- this lets you play more relaxed, faster, and cleaner. I have incorporated that idea into my playing, and it makes sense. It also puts less strain on my fretting hand, which is important since the older I get the more pain I feel when I play.
 




Top