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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / How to tell if the frets are stainless steel or nickel?

thomas

Australia

Sep 4th, 2011 04:02 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I bought a used Warmoth strat from a friend a while back. I'm curious as to what kind of frets it has. How can I tell if it has stainless steel or nickel frets?

GoranS
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Southern Sweden

What? Me worry?
Sep 4th, 2011 04:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thought I had a solution for you...

Stainless steel is not magnetic, so I took out a tube of StewMac nickel fretwire and a magnet and it was not either... bummer...

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
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New England

Sep 4th, 2011 05:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A touch of experience/feel is the best. SOMETIMES stainless has a bluish color, but not always. There are a few stainless alloys floating around out there and some are harder than others. The stainless being much harder, it is immediately clearer once you start working with it. Steel wool will barely touch it, and it has an entirely different feel under a file. I you don't have any experience working with frets/metals, I'm not sure how to explain it in a definitive way, unfortunately.

You can also pop the neck and look at the heel. Most of the time the fret wire is written in felt pen down below the stamp. It'll say something like "6150" or "6105SS" - the SS would indicate stainless steel. It isn't always written, though.

twangdoodles
Contributing Member
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michigan usa

Sep 4th, 2011 06:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Do the frets look worn at all? Nickel frets start to show their wear almost immediately.

thomas

Australia

Sep 4th, 2011 07:31 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hmm, here's a shot of it.

SS or nickel?

(This message was last edited by thomas at 07:33 AM, Sep 4th, 2011)

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
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New England

Sep 4th, 2011 10:12 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hmm. Greyish color and not particularly shiny, I'd say nickel. Other clues are the flat spots and the frets, and how rounded the ends are. It takes a lot more effort to round over fret ends like that on stainless. Probably 6150s, but it is hard to tell the difference between 6150 and 6105 just from a picture.

thomas

Australia

Sep 4th, 2011 02:07 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks FK. I think it is likely nickel.

Peegoo
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That chicken

is WRONG, baby.
Sep 4th, 2011 02:17 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yep. Stainless doesn't "flat-out" like that.

Them's nickel-alloy frets.

Another way to tell is by smell. Seriously.

You know what a copper penny smells like, right? And you know what a stainless steel sink (when scrubbed with a scubber like a Scotchbrite pad) smells like, right? Copper smells like copper. Steel smells like steel.

Nickel alloy frets contain copper. Rub your finger along a fret, back and forth, using moderate pressure. The idea is to build up a little heat. Get the fret wire warm, and you'll notice a coppery smell happening. Stainless steel won't.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 07:37 PM, Sep 4th, 2011)

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
******

New Jersey

saving the otters one guitar at a time
Sep 5th, 2011 08:32 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think the smell thingy is about the best bet unless you wanna try filing the frets. Brand new SS wire doesn't typically look any different than nickle until you polish it. Both will polish to a mirror finish but the nickle will tarnish in a week or so. When cared for and kept clean, SS will keeps its mirror finish (if one was created) nearly forever.

I also wish there was an easy on the fly - sure thing test.

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
*

New England

Sep 6th, 2011 06:04 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I also wish there was an easy on the fly - sure thing test."

I'm pretty sure there are chemical tests that you could do, but they'd be a tad dangerous trying it on an installed fret. It could be as simple as wiping a bit of acid on there and seeing what color it turns. If this is something you run into often enough, you may be able to find a metallurgist who could suggest an easy test.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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That chicken

is WRONG, baby.
Sep 6th, 2011 07:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Infra-red and x-ray spectrography is an easy, non-invasive way to test it and determine metal type. But the equipment is not cheap.

Flame and arc spectrography is destructive.

I think Jimi Hendrix was trying to determine what kind of fret wire he had on his Strat at the Monterey show.

He was using the flame method =o)

thomas

Australia

Sep 7th, 2011 03:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If I try biting it would one feel softer than the other?

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
******

New Jersey

saving the otters one guitar at a time
Sep 7th, 2011 07:10 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

How is your dental insurance?

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
*

New England

Sep 7th, 2011 07:13 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

There's a joke in there about Australian teeth, I'm sure.

ConchoBill
Contributing Member
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Universe of Tejas

Bluz Cowboy
Sep 7th, 2011 10:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Stainless frets are not common; the other alloy is very common. If someone has stainless frets on a neck, he is likely to tell you. I have em on 2 necks.

wrnchbndr
Contributing Member
******

New Jersey

saving the otters one guitar at a time
Sep 8th, 2011 06:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have a ton of fretwire and its all "organized" (unlike me to be) into sizes but the only way to tell which is which it to try and cut it with a dull pair of wire cutters. If you have a standard pair of made in China highly used wire cutters, you cannot cut stainless fretwire without really stressing your hand, maybe spraining your hand muscles and getting your face red.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / How to tell if the frets are stainless steel or nickel?




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