Fret wear

Discussion in 'Other Guitar Discussion' started by Antman, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Antman

    Antman Strat-Talker

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    Hi

    Whats an average acceptable time period for frets to show small signs of wear?. Say with playing 4-5 times a week at home.
    I have some small wear showing on a guitar thats about 2 yrs old...im not that heavy handed..is this normal?

    Modt puctures of older guitars appear to show nicer frets...or are these normally replaced/ crowned etc?
     
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  2. alainvey

    alainvey Senior Stratmaster

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    I have no idea what is statistically normal, since I have heard all sorts of wear rates from different people.

    What you are describing sounds normal to me. I usually see fret wear within 6 months if I play every day, and could do with a level and crown from 1-2 years. SRV needed a refret every year or something silly like that!

    I find that my mim fenders wear much more rapidly than any other guitar I have owned. This could be because I play them more, though! My Yamaha has very little wear even though I have really put it through its paces over the last year. My Jimmie Vaughan strat, however, really wants a levelling...
     
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  3. Jbones

    Jbones Strat-Talk Member

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    I just recently had a maple neck Strat plus re-fretted (which is normally really expensive, but I'm blessed) with 6105 stainless steel frets. After talking with the Luthier, he suggested me having them leveled and everything but I on the other hand am fairly heavy handed. Fret wear is going to depend on quite a few different things which I'm sure you know ie- where you play consistently, string gauge, etc. I guess to possibly be able to shed a bit more light a few of us would ask a few more questions...

    What is the guitar?
    What string gauge?
    What type of music do you play?
    How big are the frets you have in there now?

    If getting your guitar re-fretted is where you are leaning, I would look at the option of buying a new neck from warmoth or some place like that because depending on your location and how busy the luthier is it can be cheaper to buy a new, possibly higher quality, neck. This way you can customize based on hand size, preferred fret size, etc. That's just my .02 on the subject. Hopefully it helps to some degree.
     
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  4. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    The frets on modern guitars seem to be much softer than those on older instruments. I can't see them lasting more than about five years with levelling required after two.

    This presupposes that you play the guitar (like you mean it) every day for a few hours and don't have others to play in rotation.
     
  5. jeff h

    jeff h Senior Stratmaster

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    Hence my problem. I have a hard time keeping an eye on string changes ( and batteries for the active pickups in some) since I play a decent handful of guitars on a regular basis. I have no way of judging how much actual playing time before a refret.

    I can tell you that one of my guitars is showing some wear back at the 2-4th frets from a previous owner who must have loved playing nothing but open chords but the frets don't buzz so I have no reason to get them leveled right now. Especially since I don't play many open chords on that particular Ibanez very much.
     
  6. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    After twenty years and a levelling last year, the frets on my #1 are now just over 0.030" tall. The strings are starting to wear the fret board. I have to get it refretted this year. Do I stop playing it until I get it done? Like hell. :p
     
  7. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Most Honored Senior Member

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    All of my guitars show some degree of fretwear. My LP standard showed wear after playing it for a year...I could see the typical positions I would play in wearing :).

    My strat frets are really worn. I attribute some of that to my experimentation with stainless still strings. It doesn't impact playing, so I don't worry about it.
     
  8. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Strat-Talker

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    I'm a tech with my own shop. Doing fret level/recrowns and refretting are some of my bread and butter services, and they are some of my more rewarding services because they result in such a big improvement in the playability AND TONE of the instrument. A lot of guitarists don't realize their need for fretwork because the wear is so gradual they get used to it, but then are so amazed at the dramatic improvement when they get it back after the work is done.

    As far as how long it takes for frets to wear, that depends on a several things, string composition, fret size.... Most of all, the players playing style... whether he/she has a light or heavy touch. I had one customer bring in his 25 year old strat that he had gigged literally thousands of gigs. The first ply of the pickguard was worn through in a couple of places, the knobs were worn smooth... I mean this guitar had been USED! But the frets had never been worked on... he had a super light touch. I have another customer that I did a fret level/recrown, and he brought his guitar back about six months later for some other work, and there were already divots worn in the frets. He had a heavy touch.
     
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  9. Antman

    Antman Strat-Talker

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    I have 6 guitars i rotate fairly regularly...depending on what music I'm playing. I use 10s on all my guitars and do see wear on frets 2-4 as i play down that end more i guess. My 25 yr old Fenix strat has a few fret dings but doesn't affect playability at all. I was looking at my 2 yr old Fender modern player jazzmaster which has a very small sign of wear around frets 1-4 usually B string.

    Added some pics of my oldest guitars wear...doesn't affect bends etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  10. Antman

    Antman Strat-Talker

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    Attched now...

    Last one is a Fender modern player strat about 2 yrs old...
     

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    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  11. felis

    felis Senior Stratmaster

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    I'ts my suspicion that recycling/alloys play a big part in 'faster wear on newer ones' generally.
     
  12. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    That probably has a lot to do with why alloys made today just aren't the same as they used to be, no matter what the specs claim. There are mutterings about falling quality in other products that have used specialist "nickel silver" wire for many years.
     
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  13. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Even with monthly string changes, I can see some wear in about 6 months.

    Like any honest luthier will tell you, change your strings often, and always re-fret in stainless (unless it's some $$$$ vintage guitar).

    When refretting, make sure you specify Jescar fretwire. When you compare, it's startling how crisply formed and sharp the barbs are along the tang - that's German quality.

    If you have a nickel allergy, you can get Jescar EVO - it's nickel free.
     
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  14. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    There is a vid of Brian May discussing his gear. In it, he states that he has NEVER refretted his original red guitar he and his Father made when he was 16 years old and has played his entire career.
     
  15. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Did he say what the frets are made of?
     
  16. PCollen

    PCollen Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    not that I recall...it's on Youtube.
     
  17. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Strat-Talker

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    Another thing to note about fret wear... The wear people notice is often the divots in the first few frets, because they are easy to see. But when you take a micrometer to a fretboard you often find that the higher frets where players do more of the string bending are worn more. It's not as obvious, but if you look closely you can see that the tops of the frets are worn flat.
     
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  18. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    I have 3 guitars that are about 35 years old and have never refretted any of them.

    D