Refretting Frets

  • Hi to all,
    The frets on my guitar are starting to look sorry for themselves and l can see a refret on the horizon. So l thought I'd take the chance to ask all you good folks your opinions on stainless steel, or any other options out there. All and any input is greatly appreciated.

  • Have stainless steel frets on both my Tom Andersons. On my Fender its steel/nikkel I like the SS frets! they have great feel and its not mutch fretwear to notice.. its hard on tools, but i send them in to a guitartech anyway if the frets need to be dressed!

  • Hi to all,
    The frets on my guitar are starting to look sorry for themselves and l can see a refret on the horizon. So l thought I'd take the chance to ask all you good folks your opinions on stainless steel, or any other options out there. All and any input is greatly appreciated.

    I've just done my first refret job and I'm in disbelief with the results in a good way. That encouraged me to do another refret on another guitar for some real jumbo frets that are missing in any of my guitars.
    I pulled the trigger on some Jumbo Stainless steel and after further research cancelled the stainless for the traditional standard nickle silver for two reasons:


    1-Very hard on the tools, even snipping the fret ends can destroy the hand clipper, that goes through nickle silver like a knife through butter, before you get to your second or third fret. Sanding and leveling might take longer and regular files might not work well with Stainless unless you have expensive diamond files. This whole thing will mean nothing if you're going to pay someone to do it but keep in mind that you would likely be charged more for Stainless Steel for the additional time and labor.


    2- Strings wear and tear much faster as they rub against hard metal. This means frequent string changes, otherwise the tone will lose whatever advantage that is gained by stainless steel.


    They're extremely smoother for playing but nothing that can't be accomplished by properly dresses and polished nickel silver frets

  • Thanks for all the input so far. @Dean R
    you raise some interesting points. While l do appreciate your concerns from the tech side of things, that for me will be reflected in the price of the job by someone competent.
    Does anyone have experience with
    1. The longevity of ss frets, do they wear out?
    2. Do ss frets wear strings out at a noticeably quicker rate?
    Thanks again for all your inputs, valued as ever.

  • Recently got SS frets on a custom build. TBH soundwise doesn't make much difference to me, but they sound a little different obviously. Though if you do bends in the thin strings, it feels like silk, I love it. Recap: to me it's more about good hand feeling than a sound change.

  • 1. No, not really.
    2. That depends on how frequently you change strings. If you change strings every couple of weeks, or 1/2 dozen shows, I don't think you'd ever notice the difference. If you go months - years between string changes, you'll notice wear on the wound strings in particular.


    I'd say you should try to find a guitar with SS frets and play it to see if it's as addicting as some (me) feel. I've had Pleked guitars, with mirror smooth frets, using standard fret material; and they're never really as smooth, IMO, as the SS frets - initially. After a few weeks/months (depending on how much you play) there is IMO, no comparison.

  • Agreed again, Dlaut. Even the most-freshly-dressed-and-polished "conventional" frets I've played weren't in the same league of smoothness as the SS ones.


    It really has to be felt to be believed IMHO. Even if you've played for 50 years and never felt 'em, it'd probably be a shock to realise that bending could feel as you'd never imagined it could.

  • Agreed again, Dlaut. Even the most-freshly-dressed-and-polished "conventional" frets I've played weren't in the same league of smoothness as the SS ones.


    It really has to be felt to be believed IMHO. Even if you've played for 50 years and never felt 'em, it'd probably be a shock to realise that bending could feel as you'd never imagined it could.

    Ok Nicky, I'm sold, I'm going to order some stainless steel frets and refret one guitar that's not getting a lot of play.

  • I have never noticed that singing problem with SS frets that someone says!! You should try a good quality build guitar with SS frets before you judge!! Have never heard about strings wearing out faster with SS! you are completely wrong! Theoreticaly strings last longer with SS frets because of a lot less friction than softer frets! Actualy I have never touht about it. I have well dressed frets all the time on any of my guitars, with SS or without. When I playd my fender as a main guitar i needed to send it in for frettdressing every 3. year or so.. I have played Tom anderson since 2004 and only had one that i bought used in for a dressjobb. But as i have mentioned, frettdressing and refretting is for the Pro`s! I do only neckstraightening and Intonation my self.

  • I have just had a guitar (Fender Thinline Telecaster with wide range humbuckers) refretted with stainless frets, mainly because I seem to wear frets out very fast on some guitars.
    My initial impressions are that there may indeed be a very slight tonal difference, but probably no more than the difference between stainless strings and regular nickel.
    I love the feel of the frets - very smooth and precise for note bending.
    I can't comment on string wear as I change strings frequently anyway.
    As for fret wear, years ago I had a Steinberger guitar and I believe they had stainless frets. I somehow managed to wear the frets on that guitar, to the point that it was going to need a refret before long. So I guess they don't last forever!

  • nothing lasts forever ;-)
    I just had my Fender refretted for the second time. But it was my first electric guitar and I still play it a lot. Like really a lot.
    They were SS and on my PRS SE the SS frets I have had installed 2 years ago also show their first sign of wear. I think I need to take them to leveling soon.
    But SS still takes much longer to wear down than anything else.