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Preventing/minimising fret wear?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Evil Undead, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I've only had my MIA P for 2 months, and it's beginning to show very slight fret wear already! Just tiny grooves in the frets under the strings - nowhere near anything that would affect playability yet, but I want to get the most life possible out of my frets before a dressing is needed, and how many dressings before the dreaded re-fret?

    I'm using Elixir nanoweb 45-105. I thought about switching to Chromes but I read that they're steel which is of course hard on frets.

    I play for, embarrassingly, only about an hour per day at most, and two hours on Sundays.

    Any advice?

    (P.S. I wasn't sure if this should go in here or strings, but I chose this one, hope that's ok!)
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Flats or tapewounds.

    Or just play the bass and let nature take its course. Frets are a consumable item, and they're replaceable.

    BTW - you do more practicing by Wednesday each week than I do all week. I think you spend a LOT of time practicing.
  3. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Hey, thanks for the reply.

    Is it easy (or even possible) to replace the frets on a glossy lacquered fretboard?
  4. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    The fact that you're playing 8 hours a week is fantastic. The natural byproduct is that your instrument is going to wear faster than the average player. It will still be a long time before you'll have to address the fret wear so keep playing with confidence and stop peeking under the strings.

    In a couple of years when you need to address the frets, consider a refret with stainless steel frets as those will last much longer.

  5. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Absolutely. Some folks are skilled enough to replace the frets with minimal impact to the fingerboard finish save a little chipping here and there. However, it's a much better idea to have the fingerboard leveled once the old frets are out and then refinish the fingerboard once the new frets are in.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Just play it and don't worry about it. It would take years before they'd need to be replaced.

    My Sadowsky is pushing 12 years old, been in my possession for 5, and strung only with SS strings. The frets are fine. And that's nothing compared to some basses.
  7. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Sounds like a massive job. It might be easier and cheaper to get saving and just get a new bass once this one needs a re-fret :D

    Joking aside, I'm wondering if it's worth switching to flats just to help lessen the wear? I've only ever used flats on a fretless before so I'm not used to the tone, but I'm sure I'd get used to it.
  8. bigalbass


    Dec 12, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Please keep playing your bass as much as you do and let me erect a statue to your (and others) dedication made out of replaced frets and worn out strings.
  9. bigalbass


    Dec 12, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    A pro fret job is not all that expensive and in some cases it can make your bass play even better then before. My tech lets me pick the fret size. That's nice. As for flats, gotta try them, worth the cost of a set of strings, but I really would recommend that you just play your bass like you stole it.
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    In one sense it is a massive job. But cost notwithstanding I actually look forward to the day my basses need refretting for the first time.

    Most bass necks tend to bow slightly as they age, especially bolt-on necks made in the Fender tradition. A refret is the only time you can properly address these issues which may require leveling the fingerboard or even more severe methods like correcting excessive bowing with heat and clamping.

    After a refret I know that my bass has a straight neck, a perfectly level fingerboard and perfectly level frets. And since the most of the stresses in the neck have been corrected and/or relieved, it should stay that way for a long long time. From a structural standpoint the neck is better than new.

    So play whatever strings you like regardless of how they wear your frets. You'll enjoy playing more and eventually you'll need a refret after which your bass will be better than ever!
  11. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    Sorry, but this is a topic that has been beat to death more times than any of us can count. Why would you sacrifice tone for the sake of a replaceable item? It makes no sense whatsoever. If you want to use flats because that is your tone, than do it. Otherwise play the bass with real strings ;-), and in 15 years get your frets redone. In the meantime find something else to worry about...
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The only good reason to switch to flats is because you prefer them for tone and/or feel. Go for the string that gives you the best expression of the sound you want. If that's stainless steel rounds, so be it. If so you can expect that you may need a fret dress after several years, and you should be able to get two or three dresses before you need a refret. I bet you will be wanting a new bass for other reasons before you need a complete refret.
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1, except that there's no reason an american P would ever need to be replaced by anything else :D

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