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How can I tell if I need new frets?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by ckim715, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. ckim715

    ckim715 Strat-O-Master

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    I have a 95 MIM Standard that I absolutely love, but the frets on my neck are getting worn. At what point will a level/crown not be sufficient, and a refretting necessary? I don't know whether to spend the money on a new neck or a fret leveling. The GBe side of the frets are much flatter than the lower strings, as I do a lot more bending with the higher strings. Any help would be appreciated. I tried taking pics, but my camera is crappy and I couldn't get any good shots.
     
  2. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    You should be able to tell if fret wear is at the point that you can no longer cleanly fret the string onto the fretboard. You can usually tell also with a visual check by bending the string out of the way and looking for a condition like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ckim715

    ckim715 Strat-O-Master

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    I don't have divots, but they are getting pretty flat as opposed to some of the less frequently used frets.
     
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  5. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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  6. ckim715

    ckim715 Strat-O-Master

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    Hey, thanks a bunch Dennis, it is much appreciated.
     
  7. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    Anytime, good luck with your frets...
     
  8. ckim715

    ckim715 Strat-O-Master

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    I wish I had a sure way of telling whether my frets are too worn or not...I'm wrestling between getting a new neck (Always wanted a rosewood V) or buying the tools to do a level/crown/polish. I might just go ahead and get a new neck, transplant the tuners, and stow the neck away for a future project. Any opinions?
     
  9. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    When you said:

    "The GBe side of the frets are much flatter than the lower strings, as I do a lot more bending with the higher strings"

    That would lead me to believe you're in need of a refret. It wouldn't make sense to bring the rest of the existing frets down. I would do the refret, even if you pay a tech to do it, it's less expensive than a new neck in most cases.
     
  10. ckim715

    ckim715 Strat-O-Master

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    A new mitey mite neck would be fairly cheap, iirc. There's a local dealer that sells MM necks near my house, so I can visually inspect the one I would buy; I figure I can buy that neck, then use this mim neck to practice refretting it, and if successful, put it towards a project guitar I've been working out in my head. Opinions on that option?
     
  11. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

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    If you're experiencing string buzzing or the notes choking out when you bend them, then you need a fret dress or maybe a partial refret. If you have these problems take it to a good luthier who'll do the job for not THAT much money. The guy who does my work for me, tells me that half the refrets he does, are a result of people thinking they can do the job themselves and messing it up. Buying a new neck is totally unnecessary!
     
  12. boof

    boof Senior Stratmaster

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    nice series of videos. I hadnt come across that before.
     
  13. sarNz

    sarNz Senior Stratmaster

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    Stratden - crap, that is extreme? I have frets a lot worse than that on many of my guitars...
     
  14. rwbjr

    rwbjr Strat-Talker

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    I have NEVER seen a case where fret wear from "bending" strings some how flattened the frets. I think it is all in the OP's head or... he got the guitar that way and this is the first time he looked at it.

    If the OP's observations are accurate I would believe that the flattening on one side is from previous fret work done at some point.

    RB
     
  15. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    I hope that isn't bragging... LOL! You must have a greater tolerance for degradation then. ;)
     
  16. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    It's alot of info, but it's best to be familiar with more aspects and techniques than not enough. Especially for anyone undertaking this for the first time on their own.
     
  17. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    Agreed, whatever the cause may have been. I was particularly respodning to the resulting condition of the frets that the OP was speaking of. The idea of buying a new neck versus addressing the worn frets to me is equivalent to throwing out the baby with the bath water.
     
  18. rwbjr

    rwbjr Strat-Talker

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    I wasn't really arguing with your point - just seemed like an appropriate place to interject considering you showed a photo ore "typical" fret wear (just in an idiotically short time period).

    My actual theory is that the frets are shinier/cleaner with no residual finish on top of them in the spots he is looking at. If indeed they are actually lower and flatter then I go to my second theory - somebody else took a file to it or they were smoking a little too much at the factory that day.

    RB
     
  19. Lua1

    Lua1 PolyMayerMaple Strat-Talk Supporter

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    interesting videos! crazy how much goes into that job.
     
  20. jflintmac

    jflintmac Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Those frets might be levelable and considering that I do my own fret work, I would level them.
    But to pay someone to level frets that are so bad is stupid. There would be no room for fall off and a year later you will have the same problem again!
    And to say that you should just leave it???
    Dear god - no. That would annoy me to no end. I'd have nightmares!!!

    Stationary divots as in Denis's example (to me) is a sign of softer fret metal, as streching strings causes much more wear than just pushing down on a string.
    Either way, it sounds to me like you need a refret or if not now, you will soon. Replacing the neck should not be the option. Your goal should be to keep the guitar as original as you can, especially if, as you say, you really like the neck.
    You should have the neck refretted with either stainless steel or that 25% harder fretting material that is commonly used by luthiers.

    As for doing it yourself - practice first. Get a 20 dollar squire neck or an old MM cheapie and learn how to do all of the things indicated in the video's above. In the future you can do all of your own work and save a ton of money as well as enjoy the satisfaction of success in such a challenging task.
     
  21. StratDen

    StratDen Senior Stratmaster

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    Did you watch the entire series? It's well worth it whether you'll actually undertake the work yourself or turn it over to a tech...
     

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