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Re-fretting guitars

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Brendy 29 Oct 03 - 05:20 AM
Jon W. 29 Oct 03 - 10:21 AM
Murray MacLeod 29 Oct 03 - 12:36 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 29 Oct 03 - 04:23 PM
JohnInKansas 29 Oct 03 - 06:27 PM
Brendy 08 Dec 03 - 05:10 AM
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Subject: Re-fretting guitars
From: Brendy
Date: 29 Oct 03 - 05:20 AM

The old Washburn needs re-fretting!

The way it has always worked with me, is that I get the thing done, and within a few months of fairly hefty playing; capos being placed everywhere up to the 10th fret, the old lady starts to ever so slightly buzz.

I use a .60 for my bottom E, and a .17 for my top E (this is because I generally have the axe tuned open).
That in itself is enough to saw through even the hardest of fret-wire.

My question is, is there a really heavy duty fret-wire out there, that could be relied upon to stand up to a bit of hardship?
I'm heading to Ireland tomorrow for a month, and would leave the machine in with an instrument maker friend of mine.
I'm sure he would know himself what material to use, but if there were any suggestions from the good folks at Mudcat, I could go to him with a bit more knowledge of the subject.

Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: Re-fretting guitars
From: Jon W.
Date: 29 Oct 03 - 10:21 AM

You might want to go to The Musical Instrument Makers' Forum to post this question.

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Subject: RE: Re-fretting guitars
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 29 Oct 03 - 12:36 PM

The problem with fret wire is that it has to be soft enough for the luthier to cut, file, and crown the frets using conventional tools, so this places a constraint on how hard the fretwire can be to start with.

You might want to specify "tall" fretwire for the refret, this would give you a longer period between actual refrets, allowing for more re-dressing of the existing frets.


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Subject: RE: Re-fretting guitars
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 29 Oct 03 - 04:23 PM

Frank Ford has some useful info about frets at (CLICK HERE).

He makes no mention of the availability of fretwire in anything but the standard 18% nickel "German silver" alloy.

However, it does seem to me that I read an article in Guitar Player magazine about 30 years ago in which a luthier mentioned using harder nickel frets on an acoustic guitar that he built for Eric Clapton. But that wouldn't necessarilly mean that he found fretwire in a harder alloy. For that type of high-end custom work you could make (or have a machine shop make) old-style bar type frets from any alloy.


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Subject: RE: Re-fretting guitars
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Oct 03 - 06:27 PM

While harder frets might last a little longer, there's the possible other result that they might make you change strings more frequently. Of course, this would depend on whether you change the strings when they don't sound good, or wait until they break (or rust) like some of us do.

All the threads we've had debating bone vs plastic vs tortoise bridges and nuts would suggest that you could get some tonal effects as well. An experiment I did with aluminum nuts on a lap dulcimer didn't turn out too well, because it made an open string sound a lot different than a fretted one.

I seem to recall that Luthiers Mercantile offered a couple of "special composition" fret wires, including a "super hard" one or two, a few years back; but a quick look at their site recently didn't find anything other than standard hardness. They, and others, do offer some variety in crown widths and heights. Perhaps a wider crown would give you a little slower wear. Depending on how fussy you are, though, changing the fret width or crown radius can affect the note-to-note intonation.


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Subject: RE: Re-fretting guitars
From: Brendy
Date: 08 Dec 03 - 05:10 AM

Thanks, folks, for the info.

I found the number of an old shool teacher of mine, who went full-time into instrument making a number of years back, and I explained my problem to him.
He had a heavy wire from Jim Dunlop, which he uses (don't know the metallic mix of it, though) for a few of the more heavier handed Trad players that we all know and love.

The instrument feels well, though I haven't taken it around the track for a few runs, yet.

If I dont have to do this job again for another 12 months, I'll be extremely happy.

Thanks again


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