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Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar

Murray MacLeod 05 Sep 08 - 04:42 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 05 Sep 08 - 11:45 PM
Escapee 06 Sep 08 - 12:52 AM
Murray MacLeod 06 Sep 08 - 01:10 PM
DADGBE 06 Sep 08 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Tony Haven 24 Jul 10 - 08:15 AM
Willie-O 24 Jul 10 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Rich 22 Feb 11 - 09:31 PM
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Subject: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 04:42 PM

I just wondered whether anybody has had this modification done to their acoustic, and if so what their opinions were.

SS fret replacement is a fairly common modification to electric guitars, but I have seen no evidence, in a fairly exhaustive and lengthy web exploration, that anybody has ever had their acoustic guitar fitted with SS frets.

I am seriously contemplating doing this mod to both my Martin D28S and my Bourgeois OM. There is nothing wrong with the frets on either guitar, but I believe that the SS frets could bring a different dimension to my playing.

Fortunately I am experienced enough to do the work myself, although I know it will take far longer than a conventional refret with nickel-silver (so-called), and will probably destroy a couple of diamond fret files in the process.

Luthiers are in the main opposed to SS frets, mainly because of the difficulty of working the material, but I believe the benefits could conceivably outweigh the disadvantages.

The general consensus among electric players is that SS frets add a whole new dimension to ease of playing, and I see no reason why the same should not be applicable to the acoustic guitar.

Since I know there will now be frantic Googling for "stainless steel frets", here is a ready-made Google link for "stainless steel frets"


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 11:45 PM

Well Murray I suppose the harder metal would have less wear but what else do you see as an advantage? I see some claims as to making string bending easier, but wouldn't any new or filed fret do the same?
With the way I play it wouldn't make a difference because I stick mostly to chords and a few runs. G,C,&D and anything else is showing off! I am afraid that it will take much more than frets to turn me into a Tony or JP! :-}


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: Escapee
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 12:52 AM

Murray, are you experienced with stainless steel? I'm not a luthier, but I was a diemaker, and stainless steel is a very difficult material to work. It's not harder than your diamond files, but it's gummy and could clog them more quickly than standard fret material.
Is it my imagination, or are new frets softer than they used to be? It seemed to take forever for my guitars to need fretwork, but I've bought instruments recently that needed partial re-frets after three years or so. Don't suppose it could be my ham-fisted stranglehold on the instrument? Nah.
Anyway, if there's nothing wrong with the frets, I'd leave them alone, but when it's time to replace them, I'd say the harder , the better.
Good luck, and please let us know what happens if you make the switch.
Fair winds,
SKP


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 01:10 PM

@Sandy: Yes, there appears to be no perceptible wear in SS frets, at least going by what I have read, therefore the increased ease of stringbending is likely to be much longer lasting than it would be with newly polished conventional frets. The other advantage (as I perceive it) is that the SS frets are way taller than the conventional frets installed on your normal factory dreadnought, and I feel there are benefits to be gained by using taller frets (although not everybody would want them on their guitar, granted.)

@Escapee : I have some experience of stainless steel, I have installed SS sheets as wall cladding in a commercial kitchen so I know to use cobalt drills, and also thin angle grinder blades, but that's about it. The received wisdom as far as guitars go is to make sure that the fingerboard is perfect before you install the frets, so that they don't need levelling and crowning thereafter. Whether that is doable, I will find out. Obviously the ends still have to be filed, but with care the surplus metal could be kept to a bare minimum. I am under no illusions, it will be a difficult and time-consuming job.


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: DADGBE
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 04:24 PM

Be careful about installing taller fret material. I recent installed tall frets for a player who insisted on having them against my recommendation. Now he can't play in tune because he has to carefully control the amount of left hand finger pressure. Any extra squeeze and his instrument goes way sharp.

As for stainless steel frets – they're fine once they're installed right but require that the luthier learn a whole new installation technique. Hammering frets into the fingerboard and leveling them later doesn't work well with stainless. They have to be hammered or pressed in close to the exact height needed since it's almost impossible to level them later.


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: GUEST,Tony Haven
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 08:15 AM

I play lap tapping acoustic guitar and I go through normal frets every 4-5 months, SS frets would make so much more sense for my music, and mainly because i cant afford a new guitar every 4-5 months


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: Willie-O
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 08:20 AM

So Murray, did you? Seems like a reckless attempt to fix a high-end guitar that isn't broken (let alone fix two of them), I'm curious to know what the result was after all the cautionary notes.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Stainless steel frets on acoustic guitar
From: GUEST,Rich
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 09:31 PM

I bought a new Martin HD28 6 years ago. Did a aprtial refret 2 years ago -now the thing is needing total replacement. Played another HD28 w/ss and didn't recognize anything adverse - so, am going for it.


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