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Old 02-21-2018, 02:44 PM
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Default Stainless steel frets

My most recent acquisition is a 2015 Santa Cruz 00 I bought off of Ebay for a really good price. As these things go I knew there would be something not disclosed I'd have to deal with, there always is. In this case it's fret wear. There's serious pitting on the first five frets under the e and A. They are significant enough that I have to put some extra relief in the neck to keep the e string from buzzing when fretted on the deepest-pitted fret (the 3rd). The guitar is stunning in other respects so I want to keep it. I wouldn't sell it to another person in this condition either, so I need to fix these these frets.

I could probably get them dressed and polished and the guitar would be fine, albeit with lower frets as a result, but I would rather do something more long-lasting. I spoke with Gryphon Strings about a refret of the first five frets, but during the conversation we got to talking about the advantages of maybe just refretting it with stainless steel since this is a guitar I want to keep.

We spoke about the pros and cons of SS frets. He said it might make the guitar brighter and crisper sounding due to the harder material of the SS frets. He also said that bending and moving over the frets is smoother and that they are so good and so long lasting that I'd probably never have to worry about another refret ever on this guitar.

I'm interested in opinions on whether I should just get the first 5 replaced with the normal nickel or do the whole thing with SS. The extra cost of SS would still leave the guitar with an overall cost below 60% of what it sells for new, so I'm not having a problem with the cost.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:52 PM
rct rct is offline
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For an electric player it's a tough choice. I happen to like the softness of traditional nickel-silver frets, and SS frets will eat strings in my experience with the one SS'd guitar I've ever used. But that's electric players, moving them all over the place all the time all night.

I think an acoustic guy could really benefit from the durability of them without as much string wear as a guy all over the neck all the time.

It would be interesting to see if you do this, keep this forum posted.

rct
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:18 PM
zmf zmf is offline
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No experience. The only tidbit I can offer is that Bob Taylor once remarked in Wood and Steel that they tried SS frets, but didn't like the way the guitars sounded. Which, at the time, I found interesting, not knowing that fret material could influence tone.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:31 PM
ChalkLitIScream ChalkLitIScream is offline
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Ive heard many good things about Jescar EVO fretwire. I know EVO gold is gold coloured, but not sure if the same formula is available in the silver finish.

Luthiers have said EVO has outlasted SS, which surprised me too.

Working with SS is also costly as it damages their tools quicker, and they may charge you more. Just passing along info I heard before
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:47 PM
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I use Jescar EVO fretwire, doesn’t “ping” like SS. Easy to work and long lasting. Recommend. Of course that’s a total refret.
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Old 02-21-2018, 04:06 PM
guitar george guitar george is offline
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I'm all for keeping the guitar as original as possible. SS frets are very shiny. Did SCGC use SS frets on any of their guitars?
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Old 02-21-2018, 04:17 PM
rogthefrog rogthefrog is offline
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SS frets are the only kind I want on my guitars if a builder is willing. I had a full SS refret done and didn't notice a tone difference. Any new refret job I get done in the future will be SS. The wear resistance and slick feel are worth it.

If you get a lot of wear on the first 3-5 frets, the long term remedy is to learn new chords and scales
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Old 02-21-2018, 04:25 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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Hi, never gone to the extreme of SS although it was discussed at one time as I'm heavy on frets.
Y oldest Collings has EVO frets. It was the second refret since 1999. and over the past few years no sign of wear .... BUT ... it changed the tone of the guitar noticeably.
Collings , being more balanced than equivalent Martins are often perceived as more trebly, but with the EVOs, this one is certainly noticeably "sharp" tonally.

If you are not particularly heavy on frets have a good complete refret with nickel silver frets and don't knock them out.
FWIW - I'd not have Evos again.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:09 PM
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I have had four high end acoustic guitars refretted from nickel silver to either stainless steel or EVO gold fretwire. No wear on the refretted guitar years later. No change in sound. Highly recommend either. I have posted more extensively on the topic in the numerous prior threads regarding it.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
I have had four high end acoustic guitars refretted from nickel silver to either stainless steel or EVO gold fretwire. No wear on the refretted guitar years later. No change in sound. Highly recommend either. I have posted more extensively on the topic in the numerous prior threads regarding it.
Rat,
What color are the tuning pegs ? My Very Special Martin Hd-28 is almost ready for a refret....Gold Tuning Pegs now..I am going to have the EVO Gold wire frets done .
if your pegs are now silver go with SS..If Gold ....
Send it to SCGC and have them put the Gold EVO wire on it and have it Plecked....and never worry about it again
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:22 PM
redir redir is offline
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I've become a big fan of Evo too. It's the best of both worlds and as a guitar maker and repairman it's much easier to work with then SS. But SS is fantastic too.

But the real issue here is, do any of your guitars have excessive wear on the cowboy frets? Reason I ask is becasue some people can make frets last for ever while others wear them out in literally months. IF you play with a light touch then you don't need a full fret job, just get those damaged frets replaced and you are back to new again.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rct View Post
For an electric player it's a tough choice. I happen to like the softness of traditional nickel-silver frets, and SS frets will eat strings in my experience with the one SS'd guitar I've ever used. But that's electric players, moving them all over the place all the time all night.

I think an acoustic guy could really benefit from the durability of them without as much string wear as a guy all over the neck all the time.

It would be interesting to see if you do this, keep this forum posted.

rct
I will keep everyone posted of course. I'm a talker. I'm leaning toward doing it, but I haven't read every post nor done all my research just yet. We'll see.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
I have had four high end acoustic guitars refretted from nickel silver to either stainless steel or EVO gold fretwire. No wear on the refretted guitar years later. No change in sound. Highly recommend either. I have posted more extensively on the topic in the numerous prior threads regarding it.
Thanks. By this time tomorrow I'll have read all of those too. I wanted a contemporary, fresh response before digging into the older threads.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redir View Post

But the real issue here is, do any of your guitars have excessive wear on the cowboy frets? Reason I ask is becasue some people can make frets last for ever while others wear them out in literally months. IF you play with a light touch then you don't need a full fret job, just get those damaged frets replaced and you are back to new again.
Sadly I'm already seeing the beginnings of fret wear on my 00-28 because I bend a lot. I'm seeing it all the way down to the 9th fret. No pits yet, but I see the precursors to it. So yeah, I'm worried about fret wear. The guitar I'm re-fretting is is significantly pitted up at the cowboy frets on the trebles. It's playable, but only after I re-set it up with higher action on the treble strings than I usually prefer. My Martin will need this in two years too I can see.
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Old 02-21-2018, 06:07 PM
Rbutton Rbutton is offline
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Most frets are 18% nickel and 80% copper. You can get frets with less copper and more zinc that will last longer. It takes a lot of playing to wear standard frets to the point where they cause issues...years or even generations before you have to replace frets. Heck most guitars seldom if ever have the frets dressed (although just about any production guitar, including Marin and Taylor would benefit prom a proper fretleveling). Stainless is hard to work on at every step of the regret. More time, more money and chances are most guitar players would ever play enough to notice the difference. Remember a good luthier will not only install and level the frets but will also repair and level the fretboard. What good are indestructible frets if you have divots in the fret board?
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