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First, great site. Love all the tips and advice on here from everyone. I have done a lot of reading.
First, I am pretty handy, and have done some minor fret work on most of my electric guitars... I have a 7 year old ESP/LTD that is going to need a full fret job. After doing some research and reading, it really doesn't seem to be all that difficult, as long as you take your time and have the right tools to do the job.
I have an older acoustic and a strat copy that I would like to use as my first two guitars to practice on. But what I would love to use is Stainless Steel fret wire.
Has anyone used it before and what was your experience like with it (as most people do say that it is harder to work with). More than likley the strat and the acoustic will get the standard nickle wire.
Also, I want to go with Jumbo for my strat copy and also my Agile Les Paul, as I love the feel that my ESP/LTD has with the jumbo frets. Will this require the need for a new nut? I think I have enough clearance with both the strat and the Agile.. without needing to do so...
And any other advice you can give on a full fret job that might not have been mentioned here or elsewhere...
Jun 04, 10 | 6:21 am
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Total Posts: 668
GK, I have never used SS for frets, but I work in a machine shop where most of the equipment we built is out of stainless. The thing that makes it appealing for frets (long lasting, lack of wear) is what makes it so difficult to work - it is hard on cutting and polishing tool. It will be harder to nip, much harder to file, crown and polish. Of course it is more expensive. You may want to consider special files or at least cleaning and sharpening often.
My suggestion is to get a piece, make yourself a little dummy fretboard (just cut some slots the correct size in a scap of maple or something and fret away.
I have done a fair amount of new and refretting with standard wire - be very aware of tang size as it relates to the existing slots in your board (not all tangs are the same). You will do some damage to the board when you pull the old frets (use the soldering iron trick) - in some cases it is better to seat your new frets with a little glue. A bound board is much harder to refret.
On an acoustic it is usually only the first 5 that need replacing - usually you can just level and crown the others. On an electric you'll probably have to do them all. If you do pull them all use that opportunity to level any divots in the board. I personally like the StewMac fret pressing tool in a drill or arbor press - they have radiused cauls for acoustic (16, 20 inch) and electric (12, 9) that makes the job very nice.
Any time you do any fret work you should plan on a complete setup. First you'll want to make the board perfectly flat for all your leveling and crowning, so you'll need to put the relief back in, then you'll probably end up with a different clearance a both nut and saddle. On your acoustics it would be a good time to check and reset the neck angle - usually if the frets are that worn the guitar is moderately old.
This is not really the relm of "kit guitar" building, I would spend some time with the repair section of MIMF.com (they cover all stringed instruments), frets.com and some of the other sites. Lots of good help out there.
Jun 04, 10 | 6:47 am