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Vintage (or smaller) Frets and Stainless Steel Rounds

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by GK Growl, Jan 14, 2017.


  1. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    To those of you that use both of the above, do you generally see faster fretwear vs. jumbo frets? I know that a lot of this has to do to grip, etc. but I am curious what you guys might think.
     
  2. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    I stated elsewhere, that my only real experience with this was with an '87 Rick 330 guitar that I bought a few years ago. I got it with stainless Rotos on it; and yes, the frets were very worn. In fact, they were pretty much... gone. However, the guitar obviously had been gigged heavily for a long time; and 330 Ricks are infamous for their soft, tiny frets. My mandolin has bigger frets, in fact... So, were the stainless strings the culprit? Hard to say; but they certainly didn't help any. And, after the re-fret (with medium jumbos), it doesn't wear stainless strings any more. But, I don't like stainless strings on anything, anyway...

    On the other hand, my '73 Rick 4001 - which previous owners also gigged pretty hard, for a long time - has frets that are still in pretty good shape. 4001's are supposed to have pretty soft frets - and they're on the smallish side, too; but these don't show that - much. I have no idea what strings previous owners used on it. It had rounds of some kind when I got it, but I didn't pay any attention to what they were. 5 minutes after the initial function check, they were in the garbage can...

    Anyway... yes, as a general rule; all other things being equal, you will see faster wear on nickel silver frets - of any size - with stainless strings than with other kinds of strings. Stainless steel is hard; nickel silver? Not so much... It won't necessarily be any faster with smaller frets than with jumbos; but it will be more obvious. And, since there's a lot less fret to dress, small frets will need replacing sooner. Do you have a bass with small frets and stainless strings? If so, I'd say two things; first, keep a close eye on the frets, and have them dressed as soon as they need it. If you catch them before they're too far gone, you can dress them a couple of times; they'll last a lot longer, which is money in your pocket. But, it doesn't take too long before small frets can't be dressed - and a re-fret is more expensive. If you have a bound neck? A lot more expensive... Second, start saving for the re-fret you will need - eventually; and seriously consider stainless frets, when you do...:thumbsup:
     
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  3. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess Spicy Big Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    I'm a very aggressive player who uses big stainless steel rounds. I've already chewed through about 20% of my Dingwall's frets. I'll be getting Stainless or EVO frets when I inevitably have to get it refretted this year.
     
  4. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    How long did it take you to do this?
     
  5. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess Spicy Big Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    A bit more than a year. I've had to get the frets dressed twice already.

    Again, I use VERY heavy SS roundwounds (.47-.160) and play VERY aggressively with lots of bends, slides, etc, so other folks' results are almost certainly different.
     
  6. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    Sounds like my son. He has a Dingwall too. I'm the old fart with vintage frets on a jazz bass!
     
  7. I use stainless steel rounds (Rotosound or DR 45-105) on my 62 AVRI Fender Jazz and have only noticed what I would call "normal" fretwear. A rub here and there. I've had the bass since 2012. I do some string bending in my playing and but I don't have what I would call an aggressive touch? But I do like to dig in once in awhile. :)
    Hope this helps,
    Brent
     
  8. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    Appreciate the info BrentSimons!
     
  9. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess Spicy Big Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    Yeah, the tiny frets don't seem to like how I play. All my other basses have totally normal fretwear.
     
  10. PaulReside

    PaulReside

    Mar 14, 2016
    Scottsdale Az
    I have Mando frets on both my 6 string bass and my old Guild Starfire but both have TI Flats so I expect they will have a long life. My P Bass has Med nickle and I used to use steel Roto's on it. Chewed the frets up in about 4 years.
     
  11. Resonance129

    Resonance129

    Feb 15, 2011
    Purgatory
    I was wondering this, myself.
    I have one of the Squier CV 70's Ps with vintage frets and I currently have flats on there, but I DO consider trying rounds again (came with rounds and I almost immediately switched em out for the flats). I definitely liked the bright, aggressive sound of stainless steel, especially on the P. But I was worried about destroying my frets really fast.
    I guess it's true I need to be super mindful of wear if I do decide to go back to rounds.
    Maybe nickel rounds would be less abrasive than steel rounds?
     
  12. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    That seems to be the the general thinking around here. How true it is, I couldn't say; but, nickel is a little softer. I'm not a big fan of rounds in general, but if I do use them? They're nickel, mainly 'cause I prefer the feel. I don't like SS rounds mainly because of the sound - but, some of them do feel like I'm trying to play a file...:)
     
  13. FantasticFour

    FantasticFour

    Dec 14, 2013
    Europeland
    I've had my Squier CV 50's for 3 years. My luthier says I have a heavy left hand but the fretwear is minimal on this one.
    I've used Fender 7250M nickel-plated strings for most of these 3 years. Currently using D'Addario Half-rounds.
     
  14. Resonance129

    Resonance129

    Feb 15, 2011
    Purgatory
    Half rounds may be a good option to consider, too. I've tried halfs on another bass before - didn't hate em but didn't love em either. But I have a feeling I'd like em on the P. Kind of a "best of both worlds" in both sounds and feel.
    Nickel plated half rounds will probably be my next strings purchase for that particular bass.
    Thanks for the heads up.
     
    FantasticFour likes this.
  15. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I guess I will just play what I want for the sounds I need. These vintage frets feel really different from the standard medium jumbo that all my other basses have. Not better or worse, just different.
     
    BrentSimons likes this.
  16. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    Consider Stainless Steel Frets if you like the SS rounds. It could be a good match up. Keep in mind that SS frets will wear through nickle strings like SS rounds wear on nickle silver frets.
     
  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 18, 2021

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