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Pre-cut Frets --what's The Difference?


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Brace yourself people...I'm planning my first neck build...so you're going to have to bear with me if I load the board down with another round of my endless questioning :D

This one's about fret wire. What's the difference between these:

no name pre-cut fret wire

and this:

geniune Gibson precut fret wire

and this:

Dunlop fret wire

The neck I'll be making will be Gibson-style, 12" radius, etc. I'll be buying a preslotted fretboard for that. I'm leaning toward the Gibson package, because it gives a couple extra frets, and I like the frets on my Melody Maker (though I don't know if Gibson still uses the same size). And I'm a sucker for anything Gibson. :D

By the way, I came across mention of the precut Gibson pack in my search--for a much better price, like around $10. Anyone know where to find them?

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I can't see enough to define a 'difference' between the wires.

The only problems I see with the pre-cut are assumed fretboard width issues....and most importantly for you is that if you are going to go that route, get two full sets because a couple extras are not going to cover the mistakes made on a first effort. :D

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I've been wondering the same thing for a refret I'm starting in a few weeks, I'm probably gonna get a pack of the Gibson ones. The neck I'm refretting isn't very old.. maybe 6 years but there's massive fretwear on frets 1-4 which leads me to think the fretwire that was on the neck wasn't very good to begin with. I think the cheap unbranded fretwire will be like that.. you probably won't notice any difference from a neck with the gibson wire and the cheap wire.. but you would after a year.. two.. or as you play so much they start to wear.

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Hmm... I didn't know you could buy that stuff pre-cut.

I prefer the Dunlop fretwire, but I'd get it in 2' pieces instead of pre-cut. It's really hard to bend a smooth radius in short pieces like that. And you will have to bend it unless they've pre-radiused it just right for your fretboard.

6' of fretwire will do your entire neck with plenty left over in case you mess up a few of them. :D

Mike

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Not all fretwire is created equal. I got some from my local guitarshop that was so soft (bent idiotically easily) I ended up just throwing it out; it wasn't worth the risk.

If you're in this for the longer haul, get yourself a spool of Dunlop wire, or (like I've done) one or more pounds of StewMac's wires, which are great quality, and have enough choice options for my tastes. It works out much cheaper, and you know you're getting good quality wire. For the price of three of those '24 fret' sets of Dunlop wire, you can get a tube from StewMac with enough wire for about 10 full refrets, 9 if you're unlucky, maybe 11 if you're lucky.

Edited by mattia
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Not all fretwire is created equal. I got some from my local guitarshop that was so soft (bent idiotically easily) I ended up just throwing it out; it wasn't worth the risk.

+1

The stock frets I pulled off my son's Epi LP were soft junk like that. Replaced them with StewMac wire. Night and day.

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On the pre-cut, you're paying more for their labor of cutting it, and putting it in the little cute package. Plus, if you use a roller bender like I do, the pre-cuts are quite undesirable.

Some bozo wanted me to do a re-fret on his guitar, and asked if he could give me a pack of mystery brand pre-cut frets in trade for the top 'o the line German fret-wire I use.

Stew-Mac wire is good too. Made in Japan, but has tested out to be a wee bit harder than Dunlop wire, and Stew-Mac wire is nice and clean. No pits in any of it that I've ever bought. The same can't be said for Dunlop.

I HOPEFULLY have bough wire from Dunlop for the last time. The quality has just gotton pitiful.

I picked out some of the worst pieces of 6105 from the last batch they sent me (keep in mind this wire is kept protected in a heavy duty tube, so the poor condition isn't from being banged around in my shop)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v398/soa...nlop_6105_3.jpg

Now, the same size German fret-wire, which I don't even keep in a protective tube:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v398/soa.../German6105.jpg

The brown in the background is actually the backside of a scrap of "pergo" type flooring (which I use like hell for jigs, cauls, etc). Just saying that, so you don't think I laid the fret-wire on top of a piece of crap, because that's what it looks like.

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That's suprising about the bad Dunlop wire.

The Dunlop wire (bulk) I got recently from Warmoth was perfect. I haven't used the StewMac long enough to know if it's any harder, but the 15 year-old Dunlop 6100 wire on my soloist has held up well. I've redressed it twice and it's just now getting due for another, though I'll probably just refret it to get some of the height back.

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Some bozo wanted me to do a re-fret on his guitar, and asked if he could give me a pack of  mystery brand pre-cut frets in trade for the top 'o the line German fret-wire I use.

Stew-Mac wire is good too. Made in Japan, but has tested out to be a wee bit harder than Dunlop wire, and Stew-Mac wire is nice and clean. No pits in any of it that I've ever bought.  The same can't be said for Dunlop.

Got a name/manufacturer/European source for this high-quality German fretwire? I was actually surprised to hear someone mention that Touchstone's wire is made here, in the Netherlands; not that I've found the place that has it, or sourced somewhere cheaper than StewMac to get decent amounts of the stuff...

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My idea with going with the pre-cut stuff this time around is it's just one less step I have to worry about right now. I'm just trying to reduce the mountain I'm going to climb :D

Although there's a guy on ebay selling a whole fretting kit, with fret bender, radius block, etc. Has anyone seen this? I wish Stew Mac had kits like this --make it much easier to figure out what I need.

I'm assuming that the precut Gibson stuff is already preradiused for their fretboards, which are 12", right?--looks like it, at any rate.

Good idea about getting two sets though!

Oh yeah, the frets in my Gibson have been in there 40 years now...still look pretty good.

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Dude, we're talking about cutting frets and bending them a little. All you need for bending is a notch on the edge of your workbench, or a curved bit of wood, or even just, y'know, hands. There are a few tutorials on this topic on the main PG site, and some info in the MIMF library. Making your own bender should be fairly trivial, honestly.

What you need: nippers (grind your own if you want to), tang nippers if you're doing bound fingerboards (I do those, and undercut fretwire for all boards. Leaves a nice, clean edge, and no chance of sticking out frets if the weather gets too dry), flat something for levelling, radius block, deadblow hammer. Stewmac DOES have a fretting essentials kit, although it's a tad over the top:

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_suppl...g_Tool_Kit.html

Seriously, you need those tools whether or not you buy the wire pre-cut, so why waste money? Cutting lengths to size takes all of about a minute.

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+1

mattia knows what he's talking about.

And you won't save any time with the pre-cut, you'll still have to trim them to fit your fretboard.

Check out Brian's fretting tutorial if you haven't already: fretting tut

It's not that hard to do a good job if you read up on it first :D and take it slow and careful. Practicing on a beater neck is a good idea.

Mike

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Well, I like unbound necks, so I'm a step ahead there :D

All right, I'm going to look into this...cause, yeah, when you put it that way, I can probably handle cutting metal into little bits... especially if you can buy the wire preradiused.

Here's the ebay fretting kit I was talking about. The same seller has a more advanced kit too.

Kind of pricey though...seems like most of you are getting away with a lot less than this?

But yeah, I've decided I need to get past this part too...then I can make any guitar I want to make...don't know how many that's going to be though...

Time to read up! :D

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For what it's worth - this is my fretting tool kit:

StewMac fret puller (only needed for refrets)

StewMac Jaws 2 fret press

Electrician's sidecut pliers (for rough cutting lengths of fretwire)

Dremel w/ metal cutting disc (for trimming fret ends)

Brian's beveling file holder thingy

2 sanding sponges

StewMac 10/12/14/16 radius sanding blocks (I've got a compound radius board)

StewMac fret crowning file

You can use a fret nipper to do your fret bending. My frets came coiled from Warmoth, so I didn't have to do much bending.

My 2nd fret job (before leveling/dressing): new frets

Mike

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My basic fretting toolkit:

1) Stewmac fret nipper (cutting to length, trimming fret ends

2) Stewmac fret tang nippers (if you do bound fboards, indispendsable, but I wouldn't want to do any fretjob without them)

3) Mill file for leveling/bevelling edges (want to build a wooden doodad to accurately bevel the fret edges without paying attention)

4) Stewmac fret crowning file

5) Radius sanding block (12", for compound radius I just use a straight sanding block)

I bend 'em by hand, and I haven't done enough refrets to bother getting a fret puller quite yet, although I'm always on the verge of getting one.

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I wasn't going to mention it because it's $50 and may crimp your intended costs but I found the Basic Fretting DVD over at Stewmac extremely informative. Dan goes through a variety of situations, shows 'how to' with generally available tools and (of course) stewmac tools.

The most informative portions gave me huge insite to the tools that are (or can be) used to get the job done correctly and in varying methods. I don't regret the purchase, but that's your call. :D

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Well before I go for a DVD, I'm going to hit up my former landlord here...he's a bonafide luthier, although he specializes in reproductions of ancient instruments, so I don't know how much fret work, if any he's ever done. But I'm hoping he can at least turn me on to someone fairly local who'll be willing to show me how its done directly.

Hell, I'm even considering looking around for a luthiery workshop...maybe this summer, just for the fun of it (when I start something, I tend to go all the way :D ).

Jacobacci is supposedly only about 45 minutes from me too...he's THE big French guitar maker.

Thanks for the tool lists though...it's going to help make things clearer.

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Oh, addition: I do have the fret press doodad (not the arbor press, just the insert) and I've recently ordered a full set of fret press cauls from John Watkins, running from 6" to 20" in .5" incriments plus a flat insert, since I'm planning on switching to all compound radius boards for pretty much all my builds. Pressing is a mite easier than hammering things in, and gives you more consistent results.

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