Dressing Stainless Steel frets

p90rules

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So I recently got a Warmoth Tele type guitar and I'm finding the SS fret ends to be a bit sharp and jarring on my finger tips. With SS, can they be dressed or smoothed /rounded off as easily as regular frets?
 

Phil W

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I'd be very interested in the answer to this question too please ...
 

LtDave32

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So I recently got a Warmoth Tele type guitar and I'm finding the SS fret ends to be a bit sharp and jarring on my finger tips. With SS, can they be dressed or smoothed /rounded off as easily as regular frets?

Get yourself a nice little file and dress them. It's really a no-brainer.

All this voodoo and bugaboo about stainless frets being tough to work with is pure BS.

Internet myth provided by "armchair experts".

It's a little harder than nickel. It's not hardened steel, and the tool is still harder than the fret.

Common-sense often escapes the armchair experts what come out of the woodwork on a lot of things.

Dress them in a "down and around" method from the corners to the tang end, with a fine file.

Then hit the ends with some 400 grit paper, then some 600.
 

LtDave32

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When installing SS frets, you can make much less work for yourself by the prep beforehand.

Make sure that board is level and smooth. You don't want high spots forcing frets to go up.

In new fret slots, take the time to chamfer the top of the slot with a little round needle file.

The underside of where the tang meets the fret has a curve. This curve will get hung up on the square edge of an un-chamfered slot. You can see the proof of this by using a feeler gauge; the fret slots without a chamfer will sit just a hair proud of the fret board. you can slip a .004 feeler gauge under them. With the chamfered slot and fret installed, you can barely fit a .001 gauge under there.

Also, many will recommend that you press your frets in for uniformity rather than hammer them in. There may be some advantage to that. You need the frets to sit down on the board uniformly.

Getting all this done right creates much less work in leveling.
 

ARandall

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^ Is that chamfering the fret slot advice universal to all fret installation??.....I've never really looked at the bottom of my regular fretwire that closely
 

LtDave32

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^ Is that chamfering the fret slot advice universal to all fret installation??.....I've never really looked at the bottom of my regular fretwire that closely

I was schooled on that from Freddy G. And I saw a magnified close-up of the underside of a fret wire.

There is a " ) " web between the tang and the fret, quite obvious.

It's because fret wire is extruded in the making process.

I can guarantee you this; since I have been scraping a chamfer on to the top of my fret slots, the frets seat .001 - .002 closer to the board. So much so, that now I do every single board that way.

Just a simple little needle file, the "round one" in a set. Run it along the slot to soften the edge break.

Only takes a minute or so to do the entire board.
 

Freddy G

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^ Is that chamfering the fret slot advice universal to all fret installation??.....I've never really looked at the bottom of my regular fretwire that closely

Yes. And as Dave pointed out ...it literally takes about 1 minute to do an entire board.

And Dave is right that it's really not that big a difference.....when SS frets first started to become popular there were so many armchair luthiers talking about how hard they are to work. A complete exaggeration. Yes they are a little harder. I am so used to them now that it's normal...and actually the inverse is funny....when I work with traditional nickel/silver it's so easy and soft I can't help but think "jeez! no wonder these things wear out in no time!"
 

LtDave32

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Yes. And as Dave pointed out ...it literally takes about 1 minute to do an entire board.

And Dave is right that it's really not that big a difference.....when SS frets first started to become popular there were so many armchair luthiers talking about how hard they are to work. A complete exaggeration. Yes they are a little harder. I am so used to them now that it's normal...and actually the inverse is funny....when I work with traditional nickel/silver it's so easy and soft I can't help but think "jeez! no wonder these things wear out in no time!"


Freddy, I can "overwork" nickel frets in a jiffy. I have to be extra careful, because they cut like butter.

This is not a good thing. Nickel frets have like zero resistance to hard tools. Before you even know it, you've rounded off too much or some other error.

SS frets by comparison allow me to "work" them without overworking them.

I find SS frets a pure pleasure to work with, and you're right; there was so much internet bugaboo about stainless frets, they earned an undeserved reputation. Mostly by armchair speculators that never worked with them.

People need some common sense. SS may indeed be stainless steel, but they are not harder than the files used to cut them. And we're talking so tiny of metal removal, it's really not an issue.
 

larryguitar

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And the best thing about dressing SS frets-they stay the way you dress them for a long time. Take your time and get them right, and you can enjoy them for years...


Larry
 

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