Stainless steel frets

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by TheInvisibleHand, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems

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    I do enjoy SS frets, although it's certainly a nice to have, but not a deal breaker. Mainly for the smoothness and nice shiny look.

    My 18 year old RG570 doesn't have any notable fret wear and it must be my most played/gigged instrument.

    My Dingwall bass though... fucking hammered those frets, the fret size and playing style are likely the cause though. I've had that about three years and a couple of frets have definitely sustained some decent wear in that time.

    Personally I think XJ frets will last ages if treated well no matter the material.
     
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  2. yan12

    yan12 SS.org Regular

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    For me it is no question, SS all the way. That said, I won't pass up on a guitar I want or need because it has nickel. But if it needs a refret I go SS.
    I think they are one of the best advancements in years. I am a traditionalist in most regards, but I loved SS once I tried them. But don't get me started on guitar design and construction method...I can really get opinionated on that topic!
     
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  3. yuri_1973

    yuri_1973 Romantic Shredder

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    SS all the way for me.

    I don't think I'll buy any brand-new guitar without them (unless a collectible/vintage thing comes across as a real bargain or that sort of thing).

    To me, SS frets IS a real deal breaker ... some part of me just feels uncomfortable acquiring a tool knowing it's doomed to get worse even if you take the most care of it, when you can avoid it by getting a SS equipped "counterpart" (usually pricier, that's also the downside).

    I don't mind much if a guitar can be dinged, chipped, crackeled, etc... those are all aesthetic factors, but fret wear, .... sooner or later it'll affect action/buzzing, bending & sliding comfort, etc... of course you can have frets taken care of, or replaced (an idea I don't like much either as fret slots won't be the same anymore).
     
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  4. Mr Aguia

    Mr Aguia SS.org Regular

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    Its trendy thats all. Most of my guitars are from the late 1980's. Had them dressed and crowed a couple years ago. If every 25 years I need to have them crowned I don't see the big deal. Plus the SS frets wear out strings way faster. Gonna cost 50xs more in extra string younhave to buy.
     
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  5. cscheid

    cscheid SS.org Regular

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    It really depends on how you play. I eat through nickel frets. Granted some companies like PRS use super hard nickel, but normal cheapish nickel frets will get hammered when I play them. My first experience with stainless frets was a suhr modern antique I had, and since then I'll never go back. They just can keep up with my aggressive nature and namely aggressive vibrato. I recently just got an ESP Standard Series Phoenix and while its completely a sick guitar, after having it for several months I've already had to do some spot leveling since it has regular frets. I don't think it's necessarily a symbol of quality for me, since PRS core guitars are some of the nicest I've played, but it's more so that I know there's a better material than nickel out there, and I'd rather use it instead of nickel
     
  6. yan12

    yan12 SS.org Regular

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    I think fretwire from the late 80's early 90's was a bit harder...and bigger. My early Jackson and Ibanez guitars still have plenty of life left but could use dress. Another reason for jumbo frets back in the day. Again, it is preference and I think they are better but no dealbreaker. I have had some for 4yrs now and have not noticed my strings being worn out...but I don't change them much anyhow. I don't buy into changing them after every gig.

    This is my Fender Showmaster USA customshop from 2002...plenty of life on these frets. If they ever go beyond dead I will use stainless for a refret.

    showmaster 2.jpeg
     
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  7. efiltsohg

    efiltsohg SS.org Regular

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    I bet it has more to do with sweat or something, because I play like a caveman and my frets are all fine :2c:
     
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  8. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    This is the problem with the metal industry nowadays. I've steel in sheltered 10 year old buildings that wants to just oxidise and rot away so I need to sand and re-paint it every year but my buildings from the 70s with steel out in the open are way stronger. It's getting so hard to find hard durable steel for building that doesn't cost a fortune.

    In my experience strings last longer on SS fret guitars but that depends what you classify as wearing strings out. Is it them
    going dead, not holding tune or wearing away against the frets? If you are getting to the point that you are wearing strings flat against the frets then you should really change strings because they would have went dead years before that point(think you mate's 10 year old acoustic that still has the original strings).
     
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  9. Infini

    Infini SS.org Regular

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    Given that I am an actual 500lb gorilla that accidentally managed to learn guitar and bass, my instruments suffer heavy wear as I regularly hammer them with my ridiculously sized plectrums and unsophisticated technique. SS frets offset a lot of that damage- I've managed to dent or wear down all of my other guitars excepting those that have steel frets. Also they feel really, really nice.

    An aside- my animalistic clumsiness and lack of intelligence disregarded, you're welcome prefer nickel frets (or disregard steels) to your heart's content, as long as we agree that steel is objectively a better material for frets for the sole reason that they wear considerably slower, and require virtually no maintenance(unless you want to argue that they affect tone, which is a talk you will have to take with someone willing to listen to you from outside the asylum).

    Post script: like with wheels on a car and the road, it always struck me as odd that most people care very little about the material of the only part of the guitar that actually touches the strings(besides your fingers/paws, obviously) why would you cheap out on that issue, specifically? 'My tesco tires have never blown in 20 years!' while I am happy for you, these things do happen, some people do care about it. 'Nickels do the job fine, steel frets are not necessary!' Arguing about what is necessary on an instrument is like a jester asking me to a dancefloor filled with foam pies and balloon dildos; you will dance alone old man, your madness is incomprehensible and will never make sense, miss me with that clown shit.

    But hey you do you, I'm just a simian with a keyboard, also I am not mad, I am drunk, why do you think I'm on the internet in the first place?

    TL;DR steel frets are better if you disagree you are old and/or not playing guitar as much as you are supposed to
     
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  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    "You guys are all snobs, wanting metal frets. What's wrong with gut frets?!" - someone from the sixstring.org mailing list in 1780, probably.
     
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  11. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I have no idea what gut frets are but I want them immediately
     
  12. Thomas Mims

    Thomas Mims SS.org Regular

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    I think the only time I’ll care to buy SS is if I’m buying used. Just cause I’ve bought some used nickel fret guitars and Idk what some of these savages are stringing their guitars with but it appears to be with nail filers judging by how much fret is left. xD
     
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  13. Thomas Mims

    Thomas Mims SS.org Regular

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    Gut frets
    Those are frets and strings used on lutes in the Middle Ages where they were made of sheep gut. Lol pretty metal actually ...the aesthetic not the element
     
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  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Gut frets started becoming commonplace during the 1500's and were phased out for bone frets in the early 1700's, and then metal bars in the late 1700's and finally the nickel-copper alloy frets we are most familiar with in the early 1900's. Martin was still using metal bars up until the late-1920's, I think. Maybe by 2100 or so, people will start using something else and stainless steel frets will be seen as archaic.

    Many lute players still use gut frets, a reflection of the time when that instrument had its heyday. To me, it sounds like a bit of a nightmare never knowing when you would break a fret, which happens, seeing as how the guts get dried up and eventually deteriorate.

    But, even though I brought that up in jest, it was to point out that SS frets seem like a natural progress of technology to a number of players. They are super common now, and we've seen their benefits. Would you buy a guitar with gut strings? Sure, if it was super cool, but if it was just the next RG270OSGF (old school gut fret), then no thanks. :lol:
     
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  15. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    SS isn't a deal breaker for me. That being set, I am looking at getting 3-4 guitars refretted with SS. The no-maintence aspect of it is great, and when I'm already having to maintain a bunch of floyds, anything that reduces time is a plus.
     
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  16. surge

    surge SS.org Regular

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    SS frets are a must for me
    I vowed never to buy a guitar with nickel frets ever again
    Bought a brand new PRS CU24 from Sweetwater in 2012, within two years it was unplayable due to fret wear
    I got an Ibby AZ2402 right when it first came out, have had it for close to two years now and the frets still look exactly the same as the day when I first took it out of the case for the first time
    They are brighter sounding but it’s not a big problem, the pros far outweigh the cons
    So in my opinion, unless you...
    1.) Are comfortable doing fretwork on your own OR
    2.) Live somewhere where there are competent luthiers around that do a good job and can get your guitar back to you in a reasonable amount of time (last time I brought my PRS in, took FOUR MONTHS to get it back) AND
    3.) Don’t mind shelling out hundreds of dollars and losing your instrument for week(s or MONTHs)...
    It’s better to just get SS frets and turn the presence down on your amp
    Speaking of frets has anyone tried those new “sub zero treated” nickel frets?
    I wonder if they actually do last longer, or if it’s just marketing fluff
     
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  17. mbardu

    mbardu SS.org Regular

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    Marketing stuff. Definitely not stainless-steel-like.
     
  18. soldierkahn

    soldierkahn BAD MAMMA-JAMMA Contributor

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    FWIW... YMMV.....but to be honest, every guitar I've owned that had SS frets equipped on them I have not been able to jive with. I've done both an RGA6UCS and an RG2027XLS, both of which had ebony + SS frets. They each had this identical texture in the tone when plugged in that seemed to flood my amp with high frequencies that were a nightmare to try and dial out without turning the tone to sludge.

    One other strange finding I recently discovered too tells me that it's not completely the SS frets to blame for that sound. When I bought my 2020 RGDR4327 recently, it came with nickel frets and an ebony board. The first thing I noticed when I plugged in was that same type of treble spike, just not as badly or as prominent as ebony + SS frets. I

    But, I recently traded my brand new RGDR4327 neck with the ebony and reverse headstock, for a mint 2016 RGD2127Z neck with rosewood and regular headstock. On top of fixing my other beef i had with the RGDR's neck, I noticed a significant tone change as well. Now my RGDR has a much warmer tone, all of those highs I was hearing was gone. For reference, it changed it's tone to being just a pinch brighter than a stock DCM100.

    Like I said, not many folks will believe me, but I literally ran my test 2weeks ago. I got the RGD2127Z neck in from another SS member, so I jammed non-stop for an hour on my 4327.... quickly removed the stock neck, put the 2127Z neck on quick, retuned, and started jamming. So I tested using the same amp channel preset on a fully warmed up amp, the same strings, the same tuning, the same guitar body, the same signal chain, same 9v battery, etc etc. As tightly controlled testing as possible to reduce variables.
     
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  19. Thomas Mims

    Thomas Mims SS.org Regular

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    What exactly is your amp? And I am a big believer of everything in a guitar affects tone but...I can’t speak on something like that destroying tone. What strings do you use? How high is your pickups and string height? Do you have have sonar hearing or have you grown antennae that can pick up frequencies past 15k? Most humans I feel have no ability to hear a major difference in what frets are being used.
     
  20. surge

    surge SS.org Regular

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    They absolutely do sound noticeably different. They're brighter for sure.
    Used to think there was no difference but there definitely is.
    But for me it's easy to work around...especially with plug-ins or an Axe FX (or both). Just throw FF ProQ on there and do a sweep of the higher mids, and you'll spot it. Easy to dial out.
    Or if you're more of an analog person, just turn the presence or whatever high end EQ control(s) you've got on your amp down a little.
    Sometimes I leave it in...today's guitar heroes like Tim Henson, Tosin, etc. and the like typically have a brighter sound anyway, compared to the older school gents, and especially compared to like 90s / 2000s hard rock and nu-metal, and that's even when they're playing vintage guitars with ns frets.
    You don't want it harsh tho, there's definitely a limit, but it shouldn't be that difficult to hear when it's way too zingy clangy bright :)
    Anyway, the pros far outweigh the cons, for me anyway...I would love to have the time and patience to learn how to do fret levels and crowns myself, or be able to afford a personal guitar tech who can work on my guitars and get them back to me in less than a week (a man can dream can't he?) but until then, I'll stick with SS.
     
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