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Frets; is stainless steel a good choice?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Florida Jim, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Florida Jim

    Florida Jim

    May 9, 2008
    I'm thinking of using stainless steel frets. Has anyone used them, and what are the good points about them, and the bad. The bad seems to be that they are very hard, which wears tools, but when using roundwound strings, I would think they would last longer. Thanks for any insight!
  2. Baldwin

    Baldwin Guest

    Jul 31, 2007
    I've never played an instrument with stainless frets myself, but from what I've heard so far they generally tend to sound "clankier". If you like your tone to have a bit of grit this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
    Aside from that, they should last longer than standard nickel frets, but they're more likely to make impressions in your strings over a long period.
  3. flon_klar


    Feb 25, 2006
    Salt Lake City
    Stainless is a GREAT choice! Yes, they're harder to work, but after 8 fret jobs, I still haven't worn out my crowning file. Because of the hardness, there's a lot less string grab, so bends are easier and it seems like fingering goes just a little bit quicker. I love 'em, they're all I use now.
  4. KayCee


    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS
    I purchased a bass with SS frets about a year ago. They are quite bright and seem to be very durable.

    The downside is that they seem to kill nickel-wound strings much more quickly than standard fret wire.

    Anyone tried SS strings with SS frets? Wow, that would be bright, but maybe they'd last longer.

  5. "8 frets jobs..." Can you tell me how passes you make on the stainless frets before you see that thin 'centerline' appear on the crown? It takes me 4 - 6 passes recrowning normal nickel fret wire post-releveling before I move on to the next fret. I was just curious as to what the differance if any between the two materials are since I've not yet releveled SS frets. Thanks

  6. flon_klar


    Feb 25, 2006
    Salt Lake City
    Like I said, it's a bit more work. Off the top of my head, it probably takes 15-20 passes per fret.
  7. Roger that: 15-20 passes per fret.. thats helps quite a bit. Now I hope to have someone bring me their instrument with ss frets to experience the differance first-hand. I was gonna order extra files anyway..
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