Stainless steel frets?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by beezerjoe, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. beezerjoe


    May 15, 2009
    Salinas Ca.
    Anybody here have them installed on their bass? Any noticable tone differences? How about longevity with round wounds?
  2. Cyber Soda

    Cyber Soda

    Sep 24, 2008

    I get it first.


    Now aside from my cockishness, I don't remember. There's threads on it though.
  3. beezerjoe


    May 15, 2009
    Salinas Ca.
    No problem, but I tried that and really didn't find any answers. Unless I didn't word my search right.
  4. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    There may be a very subtle tone difference, a little brighter, and will last a lot linger than nickel alloy frets
  5. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I'd be interested to see what a real Luthier has to say, but I'll bet it has something to do with the fact that a softer metal allows you to tweak the action a bit after installation -- try that with Stainless steel! Can you say surface grinder!?!?!

    Like any machine design, it's a compromise. Nickle-allow frets are hard but can be "Dressed", "leveled", whatever. The downside is that they wear.
  6. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    From memory...

    1. A acknowledgable difference in labor and workmanship for hte person installing Stainless.

    2. Not really any tone difference.

    3. Stainless frets do last longer, but a downfall may be decreased life of strings due to impacts with harder stainless frets.

    Others with more knowledge are free to correct my possible miss-understanding of actual facts.
  7. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    From the stainless steel frets I've played on guitars, I'd say they feel a little slipperier/faster than regular frets, especially when bending. I've never tried a bass with them though.
  8. BassinCT

    BassinCT …still tuning…

    Jun 17, 2006
    Connecticut, USA
    If the luthier does a nearly perfect fingerboard leveling/radius job, then there will be no need to level them. As mentioned before- a PITA to level, crown and polish. The upside is that you will probably play on the frets for 20 years without needing a fret dressing.
  9. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Given that the luthier does a absolutely perfect job of installing the frets dead nuts flush with the top of the fingerboard, every imperfection in the near flawlessly surfaced fingerboard will show up in the frets. Pretty tough job because a couple of thousandths is a big deal.

    Think about it. A Fender style bolt on neck has twenty frets. Other necks can have twenty four. Sometimes even more. That is twenty or more independent operations that have to be carried out with absolute precision. Even with a fret press, the chances of nailing it are very, very small.

    Every now and again, when gluing down a fret end a spot dress can be skipped. Not all the time, mind you. It's only part of one fret, too. That is why the luthier prices this repair to include the spot dress.

    Dressing SS frets isn't that big a deal. It is the same procedure as nickel-silver. The fret material is just much harder. It's tougher on the tools. If the luthier uses abrasives rather than files it goes a lot faster. It is still more time consuming, hence the extra cost.

    If you install frets, you will dress them. That's just the way it is.