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Some Questions About Refretting With Ss Frets, Please


Mind Riot
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Hi all. I have a few questions about doing a refret with stainless steel fretwire.

Now, I already did a search on this here and read everything I could find, so please forgive me if I missed something and am asking a question that's already been answered, I did try.

I've been interested in the idea of stainless steel frets since I first heard about it, but I wanted to start doing fret work with regular frets to start. I've done one refret and about two dozen fret levels, both for myself and for clients and everybody has been very pleased with my work.

I ordered some SS wire from Lmii and I'm planning on refretting one of my guitars with it. I'm just wondering a few things.

One, when radiusing the wire for the board, does one typically over bend it slightly like we do with nickel silver wire, or does the stiffness of the SS wire require that I match it to the radius perfectly before I seat it? I don't want it to spring up on the ends or in the middle.

Also, related to that, is SS wire too tough to crimp the tangs to help it stay down? I ground a tang crimper out of some needle nose pliers that works splendidly on nickel silver wire, but if the SS won't stay down and I can't crimp the tangs to widen them a bit I don't know what else I can do. I suppose this also relates to getting the bend just right before seating.

Also, I'd like to check to make sure the dressing tools I have will work on SS wire. I will of course get the board as perfect as I can before installing the frets, but I know things often still need leveling to get things perfect. For my fret levels on nickel silver wire I use the gold Fre-Cut sandpaper attached to my levelers with double stick tape. Will this sandpaper cut the stainless steel wire if I use it to level, or will I need some kind of diamond leveler?

I also have a diamond crowning file, so I assume that will work fine.

I have Lmi's diagonal fret cutters for cutting the wire, and they say they're made for cutting SS wire, so I also assume they'll be fine.

But my end bevel file is a typical toothed bastard file hammered into a piece of 2x4 like is documented in the tutorial on this site. Will this cut the SS wire, or will I just destroy my file and need something else to do the job?

I really appreciate any information anyone can give me that have had experience with SS wire on refrets and dressings, and again I apologize if I'm asking some things that have been asked before, but I did search around and read what I could.

Thanks in advance for any information. :D

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I have finished fretting a neck with SS wire last week. I´m not the most experienced regarding fretting as this was my second fret job at all and the first one with SS wire at that,

Anyway, I think I can give some answers.

I prebent the wire like I would do every other wire. I found SS to be a little bit tougher which meant I needed a little bit more force to drive it into the fretboard (I hammer my frets in). But that was nothing serious.

I can´t tell you much about the crimping. I fill the fret slots with wood glue to get rid of the voids under the frets and "lock" them into place. Anyhow, my frets stayed down one way or the other. I also nipped the tangs with StewMac´s Tang Nipper. No problem at all.

I use the tutorial´s 2x4 bastard file to grind the frets flush as well. Worked like a charm.

In the end I believe SS wire is not so hard to work with like many make it out to be. I somewhere read it´s not that much harder than german silver but tougher which accounts for it´s wear resistance.

Finally I can´t imagine that your Fre-Cut sandpaper wouldn´t handle the wire. Take this with a grain of salt however as I haven´t leveled SS frets yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use all of the "regular" fretting tools to fret all of my guitars(all SS) and I have had no problems...recrowning IS a Bitch though...so try to level the board perfectly before install.I find that if I do the "board work" right,I don't have to level the frets,and therefore don't have to recrown.

I think you will be amazed at how much easier an SS fretted guitar is to play.It feels very "slinky".

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Thank you both for your information. I'm happy to say that my first SS refret is done and it went very well, with no real problems.

I documented the whole thing with pictures and text explaining what I did and my impressions on working with the wire and each step in the process in this thread on Harmony Central:

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums...d.php?t=1862514

Thanks again for contributing, and also a more general thanks to everyone who posted their experiences on working with SS wire in other threads; I did a lot of searching and reading and learned a lot from those posts as well.

Sorry I don't post much here, but to be honest this forum is kind of a pain. It tells me my password is invalid after each time I log out, and I have to get a new one every time I want to post after I've been gone for a while. I'm on my fourth password for this forum, and it's pretty tiresome. Anybody know who I should contact about it?

Thanks again, everybody! :D

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I use all of the "regular" fretting tools to fret all of my guitars(all SS) and I have had no problems...recrowning IS a Bitch though...so try to level the board perfectly before install.I find that if I do the "board work" right,I don't have to level the frets,and therefore don't have to recrown.

I think you will be amazed at how much easier an SS fretted guitar is to play.It feels very "slinky".

YOu know: I've been spouting this same thing for years now and everyone looks at me stupid. I get my board flat, radius it and pre-bend my frets and then press them in. I usually never have to level my frets after hand. When I tell people this they look at me like I'm stupid.

However, I've not had anyone complain about one of my fretting jobs easier and in the future if they ever need work done, there is a ton of fret left to work with. So, I'm with you 100% on this one!

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My 2 cents:

I've used ss frets on my last 4 builds. I've been working with metal a lot longer than I've been working with wood, so I wasn't at all intimidated by the thought of the stainless beating up my tools. I use the same files to level and bevel that I use with my ni-sil frets, and the same nippers, all with no extraordinary wear. I use the same standard LMI crowning file as well, even though the guys at LMI told me it wouldn't last on stainless. So I bought a diamond crowning file (from somebody on ebay), and it didn't make it through one complete stainless fret job! Even if I have to buy a new crowning file if this one DOES wear out prematurely, the feel and durability of the ss frets will still be worth the cost!

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