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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Replacing a single fret

avsalesman

Australia

'scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Jun 24th, 2017 03:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Found a single fret on my strat (6th) with a indentation in it corresponding to the G string like it had been hit. Not normal wear by any means. Wondering if it works out ok to just replace one fret, the rest are not to bad.

Mick Reid
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Jun 24th, 2017 04:23 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm still new to doing fretwork, so I'm just spit-balling here...

but if the other frets "...are not too bad" I would take that to mean there is *some* wear.
If that's the case, maybe doing a full level & crown would be enough to eliminate the G string dint.

Even if the one bad fret was replaced, it would most likely need to be dressed down to match the existing fret heights.

I'm sure you'll more sound advice here shortly :^)


ejm

usa

Jun 24th, 2017 07:42 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Exactly why do you want to replace it?


Peegoo
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Jun 24th, 2017 07:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Absolutely it is practical to replace a single fret. This is a very common fix. Guitars sometimes take a bump on the fretboard side of the neck and a string gets mashed against a single fret. Fret wire is relatively soft--compared to the steel string--so the fret metal deforms and you have a ding.

Best approach is to first evaluate the entire fretboard and choose one of the following options.

1. Test for high/low frets and determine if a level, crown and polish is in order. If it is, and the damaged fret will be remedied by the work, that is the way to go.

2. If a level/crown/polish is necessary, and the work will not fix the the damaged fret (the damage is too deep), then replace the fret and proceed with the work.

3. If all the other frets are in otherwise excellent shape (level and very little wear), then replace the single fret and work it down to match the adjacent ones.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 09:57 AM, Jun 24th, 2017)

Peegoo
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Jun 24th, 2017 08:09 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

There's a guy on Youtube (Dave Reaume) who has a channel called Dave's World of Fun Stuff. He does guitar repairs and mods.

His opinion on fret wear is that the fret metal develops dents (not wear). He is a fine tech, but he is incorrect about frets "denting."

If frets were hollow structures, then I might accept the prospect of them denting, because the hollow space in the center would allow room for displaced metal to occupy. Sort of like pressing your thumb against the side of an empty beer can.

But frets are solid. If they actually were denting, the metal around the dent would displace outwardly and the fret wound be wider at that point. If you've ever poked your finger into mashed potatoes--you know precisely what I'm describing.

Frets wear (the metal abrades) because the string material is harder than the fret material.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Jun 24th, 2017 10:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I would agree that fret wear that comes from many hours of playing entails loss of fret metal. But fret deformation that comes from a single impact could legitimately be called a dent. That metal didn't disappear, it just got displaced. If you want to get all engineery, it "sustained irrecoverable plastic deformation."

If you were a half inch tall, you could climb onto the fretboard with your miniature bodyworking hammers and dollies and gradually work that displaced metal back into its original position.

But it's easier to just replace the fret.

wrnchbndr
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Jun 24th, 2017 07:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I need to replace a single fret often as the store where I work buys a lot of old guitars. I have a large selection of fretwire but there can be some very subtle differences that can get in the way of the new fret matching all of the others perfectly. I often take the last fret on the fretboard out and use it for replacing the damaged fret and then doing the best match I can with new fret wire for the last fret.

Mick Reid
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Australia

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Jun 24th, 2017 07:46 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
That's clever thinking wrnchbndr! Makes good sense even if it's sort of "twice" the work.


avsalesman

Australia

'scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Jun 24th, 2017 08:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks. Anyone tried soldering the ding? There's a few tutorials on YT covering that.

Peegoo
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Jun 25th, 2017 10:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Soldering is not a proper repair because the fill metal is way too soft. It will wear down the first five minutes you play on it.

You *can* silver solder a damaged fret, but you have to pull the fret out to do so because it requires a torch to heat it. Doing this with the fret in place will burn the wood.

FunkyKikuchiyo

VT

Jun 25th, 2017 01:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The solder fix is best reserved for $25 garage sale guitars that you're trying to get playable for some chord chopping, not for anything you expect to really log any hours with. Think the old harmony or silvertone with so many issues you can't justify any REAL work, but want to get it playing anyway for the coolness factor.

I didn't catch what the fret size is on your strat, but if they are large enough and the offending dent isn't ridiculously deep, a fret dress is probably the best choice. It'll fix the dent, and also make for a really nice gussying up of your instrument.

"But frets are solid. If they actually were denting, the metal around the dent would displace outwardly and the fret wound be wider at that point. If you've ever poked your finger into mashed potatoes--you know precisely what I'm describing.

Frets wear (the metal abrades) because the string material is harder than the fret material."

I haven't seen the original video in question, but I've been scratching my head (no pun intended) with a similar question as of late. When evaluating the hardness of any material, there are various tests and something might excel in one way and fail in another. Lexan is "harder" than glass for shattering and penetration, but glass is harder for scratches and dents.

So, consider a fret divot. It could come from the scraping as the note is fretted in a less than perfectly perpendicular way, the hard pressing (gorilla grip) against the fingerboard, or from the string's actual vibration against its anchoring fret. Each one of these types of "hardness" would have to be quantified differently, right?

It matters beyond nerdery for two reasons:
First, if you want to adjust playing style to address fret wear, it tells you which techniques to change. I'm not entirely certain whether it is an aggressive left hand or right hand that causes wear the most. So, imagine playing for hours and hours with just your left hand: do the frets wear on their own, or do they need the snap of the pick attack to cause the wear?

Second, if we as an industry ever want to quantify life span of frets or wear resistance, then it is absolutely imperative. I get asked this on a regular basis and can offer some general advice, but never anything quantitative. For example, EVO fret wire is harder on a scratch test than nickel silver, but it is also more brittle. It seems to last longer, so does that mean that we're "scratching" the frets more than compressing? Right now we have hundreds of potential alloys for guitar frets, and we're just using, at most, a dozen, and most are either too soft, or ridiculously hard.

All that said, I have to agree with you, Goo. I'm not sure that displacement is necessary for a compression, but a compression would be readily observed on heavily worn frets. Having pull many, many old frets I feel like I'd have seen tell tale signs of a hardening or over stressing of the wire at the points of wear, but for the life of me all I see is a lack of material.

Chances are there is some truth to it, where the metal is displaced and knocked off, much like the bur when sharpening a knife or a chisel. My bet is that any truism we come up with will go away as soon as fret brand, string type and maybe even playing type are varied.

Oh, and do all guitar techs play with their food?

(sorry to the OP for the tangent - FK needs a new hobby, apparently)

Peegoo
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Jun 25th, 2017 07:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm certain every aspect of technique contributes to the rate of fret wear.

Super-speed shredders don't wear frets as fast as blues and rock players do because they use a very light touch on the fingerboard.

There have been many attempts at other fret materials...Bond (see link) tried a ramped fretboard made of hard-anodized aluminum. Others tried glass, steel, and titanium.

I have an early-production aluminum neck Kramer (450G model) from the 70s that has a phenolic fingerboard with stainless steel frets. The fret wire is pyramid-shaped in cross section and glued flat to the phenolic surface; quite a departure from standard fretboard assembly. Phil Petillo was a big part of this concept development. The frets look showroom new; absolutely no wear at all.

I think the reason why extruded or forged metal fret wire is commonly used is for ease of assembly and lower production costs for mass-produced fretted instruments.

"Fret" board on a Bond Electraglide guitar. Not many were made.

FunkyKikuchiyo

VT

Jun 26th, 2017 11:17 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Right... the revelation for me that right hand might be bigger than left hand came when I realized that rhythm players seem to wear at an alarming rate. At first I figured it was just because of repetitive positions - open chords, and so forth - but I've found even players who go up and down with rhythm stuff and use capos seem to wear instruments out like crazy.

I have one customer who is able to wear out a set of Stew Mac 152s on a Taylor in about 8-9 months. He plays several hours most days of the week, but doesn't play particularly hard. He does James Taylor-ish stuff. His left hand is not aggressive at all, his right hand is a bit tougher, but does tend to "pop" the strings a bit. I just did a partial for him, but the next time I see him I'll probably just set him up with stainless.

My dream fret material would be something less dramatically hard than stainless, but not so much softer than plain low carbon steel that nickel silver is.

The jewelry industry knows a heck of a lot about alloys that are quite workable, of all sorts of levels of hardness, and are hypo allergenic (not sure if this would ever be an issue - nickel silver has a lot of "base metals" in it), and it would be amazing to tap into that knowledge base. Cross pollination of craftspeople bring some incredible things sometimes.

Less malleable materials, for me, wouldn't be an option until radius sanding can be perfected. A typical radius block from your luthier supply house isn't terribly accurate. Many techs need to go up one level to avoid doing it wrong. Factories rarely get it right, either. The high malleability of nickel silver has allowed for a lot of slop. Those who have dealt with stainless know how this can be... I can't even imagine trying to use glass!

Leftee
Contributing Member
*****

VA

My Fame is Cropped
Jun 26th, 2017 01:12 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Let's see pics of that Kramer!

Peegoo
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between the raindrops
Jun 26th, 2017 01:45 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

This creature

here.

Twangmeister
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Retired
Jul 26th, 2017 09:30 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I have an early-production aluminum neck Kramer (450G model) from the 70s that has a phenolic fingerboard with stainless steel frets."

I had a Kramer B 250 bass. Despite using only wirewounds on it and slapping/popping the frets were in great shape when I sold it. That thing was heavy--and neck heavy. A BadAss bridge helped a little.

Being a glutton for punishment I kept it for 26 years.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Replacing a single fret




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