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Ive been useing stew macs frets for a while now and the more fretwork Im doing the more I hate them, the teath on the Tangs dont bite in to the wood enough and I find that with very hard wood fretboards that the frets will lift out and tear out chips around the slot so I end up haveing to pull the frets and redo the raidus and refret

So what have you guys been useing? I need some thing with larger teath on the tang

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I've been using Stew-Mac wire with no problems. But I've heard people say it's hit-or-miss. Maybe they get it from more than one supplier.

I e-mail Jescar several months ago, and they will sell their wire in relatively small quantities (one pound) if you ask them.

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http://www.jescar.com/

If you call them, they tend to be @$$holes. I didn't know there were fret-snobs, but I guess there's a snob for everything. :D

Had the opposite experience with them. I talked with Jeff Silver through several emails and at least one phone call, and he was very patient with me, and friendly, and the packing job of the fret-wire he sent me was a better packing job than anything that's ever been shipped to me, plus the fact the wire he's selling is the best I've ever had my hands on.

Ok, he's not totally in love with selling small amounts (less than a full pallet load), but just be thankful he decided to do that.

StewMac's wire has been quite good too, at least what I last bought from them a few years ago.

Edited by soapbarstrat
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What do you mean when you say they "lift out"?

Well i cut my slots with the stew mac saw and the fret wire just does not sit the way it should and the teath dont bite in a hold so I set the fret and then it pops up a bit, not much but just enough that it chips the slot and I have to clean it up and redo the radius, its odd because Ive never had this problem with there wire before :D

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Have you been measuring the tangs/beads ?

Usually the fret dimensions are the most consistent thing in the whole operation. When cutting the slots, consider blade "run-out", blade sharpness ( I've seen "frayed" end grain in fret slots from what I assume was a dull blade, and that doesn't work great for holding down frets).

You should just add glue (I'm assuming you're not, so far)

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its odd because Ive never had this problem with there wire before :D

to me, this suggests the board is at fault (or just different rather than actually being faulty) rather than the stew-mac wire - unless you happen to have a bad batch of wire or your tools have changed (worn saw blade cutting unevenly)

i use the stew-mac wire and it does what its supposed to just fine - i am considering trying that jescar stuff but it will be when i am through my current lot of stew-mac stuff (a few lbs worth)

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I had the same problem on my Cocobolo 27.5" scale fretboard from LMI using Stew Mac fretwire. However, it only happened on the treble side of the last 5 or 6 frets. I haven't had problems with any of the other five guitar's I've built using Stew Mac fretwire. Sometimes I hammer the frets in but I usually press them in and on the 27.5 board they were hammered in. I either didn't over bend the radius of the fretwire or I messed up the radius of the fretboard a bit on the treble side.

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Jescar is Allied's supplier (in case some of you didn't know it)

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I bought wire from stew once.

*ONCE*

What do they do? *Straighten the wire* before they sell it to try and get you to buy their uber expensive fret bender? What kind of obvious scam is that?

Most manufacturers coil their wire in the first place- I've never seen straight wire *ANYWHERE* else. I will not order ***ANYTHING*** from stew if I can help it.

I use Dunlop wire from a "secret" source Matt probably knows about... Dunlop wire comes coiled which works well for a 12" radius.

Might want to check Grizzly. I've seen pics of the wire which was obviously coiled by the manufacturer- give it a try maybe- it's probably dunlop -dunno- (but not who I got my stash from.)

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Matt,

Have you tried using a triangle file on the slots before setting the wire? There is a slight radius on the fret to the tang and this may cause it not to seat properly. I always use a triangle file on the slots to add some space for this and have had no problem.

Just my .02 cents worth

Mike

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just finished my second scratch built neck and I prepped the slots as Mikro said above, and the frets seated much better than my first neck which I didn't bevel the slots. I noticed frets 1-12 seemed to be pooched up a bit right in the center so I clamped a strip of maple over the board and added a drop of CYA down both sides of the fret and it's turned out great with 100% of fret wire fully seated.

I cut my FB using Stew table saw blade, Stew fret wire. I did have to deepen my slots a bit after radiusing and I used my LMI hand fret saw to touch this up, supposed to be .023 kerf and measures out a bit over this so I found it slightly larger than the StewMac .023 kerf saw blade.

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I had a problem with stu-mac wire, and it wasn't stu-mac wire, it was the board. I had sanded the fingerboard too much because I screwed up inlays and had to do them twice, so the board got sanded twice. I was able to press the frets in fine, but the next day they popped up. The pressure from the fret press crushed the bottom of the slots on the ends and it sprung back, lifting the ends a small amount. Nothing wrong with the wire, it was the installer (ME) that was the problem. I didn't meaure my slots before I crammed the frets in.

They sure looked sweet right after they were pressed in. They looked like crap the next day.

-John

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What do they do? *Straighten the wire* before they sell it to try and get you to buy their uber expensive fret bender? What kind of obvious scam is that?

It's not a scam. Fact is, what are the chances that the radius of the factory coiled wire is going to be the right radius for your neck ? I know it will be perfect for *some* necks, but I'm not about to let the coiled size of fret-wire dictate what radius I'm going to put on a fret-board. I think about an 8" radius is the tightest I've seen factory coils of fret-wire. Now, that's not going to be so nice when dealing with 7" radius boards. And at the other end, that 8" radius is going to be problematic on that 16" radius Martin or whatever.

For stew-mac, the straight wire is just a way to package the wire in neat tubes. Dunlop also offers it in 2 foot straight lengths in tubes. A lot of DIY banjo/mandolin guys would be screwed if all the wire came coiled (a fret-wire *straightening* machine is harder to obtain than a radius bending machine)

In the past, Stew-Mac did offer some bulk fret-wire in coils.

A Stew-Mac fret-bender was one of my first fretting tools. I knew right away it was an important tool for doing the job right. "Expensive", but still under a hundred bucks, and it keeps working fine year after year, while other $100+ items bite the dust. There's always the weekend garage project bending machines too.

Oh yeah, even though most of my fret-wire is coiled from the factory, I roll it straight and reradius before using it. Not just to put a different radius, but also to work harden it.

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I normally use 12" radius, and factory coiled dunlop is perfect for that.

Though I certainly understand a 12 wont suit everyone.- Though your argument is *slightly* flawed- Really doubt those banjo makers use 6100 or 6105 jumbo wire!

My stash of pre bent wire will last for awhile- after that, I'll make a bender, or just buy dunlop- or try the grizzly stuff.

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I bought wire from stew once.

*ONCE*

What do they do? *Straighten the wire* before they sell it to try and get you to buy their uber expensive fret bender? What kind of obvious scam is that?

Most manufacturers coil their wire in the first place- I've never seen straight wire *ANYWHERE* else. I will not order ***ANYTHING*** from stew if I can help it.

I use Dunlop wire from a "secret" source Matt probably knows about... Dunlop wire comes coiled which works well for a 12" radius.

Might want to check Grizzly. I've seen pics of the wire which was obviously coiled by the manufacturer- give it a try maybe- it's probably dunlop -dunno- (but not who I got my stash from.)

I wouldn't buy the Grizzly wire there was a post a little while ago about it being very soft compared to other wire for the price I wasn't very surprised, nothing against Grizzly though their a great company you just get what you pay for.

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Matt

First are you pressing or hammering?? Makes a difference.

As Soap said use glue.

If you are pressing tap the wire on the end with a hammer while the caul is holding the wire down, This will push the fret sideays and the tangs into the wood a bit more.

As for wire you get what you pay for.

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I bought wire from stew once.

*ONCE*

What do they do? *Straighten the wire* before they sell it to try and get you to buy their uber expensive fret bender? What kind of obvious scam is that?

Most manufacturers coil their wire in the first place- I've never seen straight wire *ANYWHERE* else. I will not order ***ANYTHING*** from stew if I can help it.

I use Dunlop wire from a "secret" source Matt probably knows about... Dunlop wire comes coiled which works well for a 12" radius.

Might want to check Grizzly. I've seen pics of the wire which was obviously coiled by the manufacturer- give it a try maybe- it's probably dunlop -dunno- (but not who I got my stash from.)

I'm pretty sure the fretwire is made straight, then they radius it afterwards. I doubt they'd go to the trouble to straighten every single piece just so you'd have to buy a fret bender. I personally prefer straight stock since I work with radii ranging from 12" - 40". It's pretty helpful for storage as well, as storage for a few lbs. of fretwire would take up a good amount of space in a 40" radius.

Personally, I am pleased with StewMac fretwire. I will definitely try a new source if I ever finish up my 2 lbs. of stewmac fretwire, though.

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I have a fair amount of coiled LMI wire kicking around - and while I like the wire, I'd prefer straight - It's not to bad to hang the coil on the wall, but I have enough kicking around that it's taking up a ridiculous amount of room; the worst are when you use most of a roll, and you end up with these coiled pieces that aren't quite long enough to stay coiled no matter how you attempt to do it.

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I'm pretty sure the fret wire is made straight, then they radius it afterwords.

Probably correct. I think coiling the wire is just easier for the manufacturer. The Jescar is made by a wire manufacturing company in Germany, not Jescar. I believe this german company is more concerned with selling bulk coils to large companies. PRS uses this wire. It comes in 3' thick rolls (approx), rather than cutting it to length for small quantity retail sales, people like PRS do not care how it comes. maybe its easier for them to handle 30-40lb rolls as well.

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The factory will also coil different sizes in different radii, so they can put one coil inside of another. I have bought it this way; one coil inside of another, then another coil inside that one. Still a donut hole in the middle though.

Longest piece of coiled I ever straightened was about 6 feet long and then I just layed it across the top of hangers on my wall for storage. But then I kept being tempted to go fret my street with 6 foot long frets. Pimped out speed bumps, I guess.

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