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Old 06-27-2009, 08:05 AM   #1
guitarcam123
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Stainless steel frets VS Nickel Silver

So, after seeing that thread on the guy who refretted his guitar with stainless steel frets and how good he said they were made me curios.

Since then I have googled and UG'ed stainless steel frets and I have noticed very different opinions.

Things I have heard:
SS frets are really bright compared to nickel silver
SS frets are so much smoother and easier to bend on
SS Frets are much harder to work with when fretting
SS wear down your strings
SS strings ruin the natural tone of tonewoods

The first result for google was ed roman. I read what he had to say and he was fully against them, now I know that man is full of bullshit but I have also read a few people who agree with him.

Pretty much, what do you prefer? SS or Nickel/ Silver and why
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Old 06-27-2009, 08:32 AM   #2
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I honestly do not see why SS frets wouldnt be great. If they say the frets wear down the strings then so what, you can buy new ones for $5. But overall I am not edjumacated *yes it was intentional* in metals.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:41 AM   #3
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I remember reading an article about why Taylor Guitars didn't like stainless steel frets. Apparently, they're too bright, hard to work with, and just don't sound good.

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Old 06-27-2009, 09:53 AM   #4
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Its just one of those opinion things. Just like some love LPs some hate em, some hate bolt necks others love em. Some like ed roman hate stainless but alot of what he spouts is crap anyways. Some companies wont use em their guitars. And others do, carvin its an option as it is with warmoth. Yes it is harder to work with but not that much harder where its impossible. I never use regular nickel steel so to me they would be like working with cooked pasta, its all relative. Do they wear into strings yea not that we never change our strings anyways. Dont know about ruining good tone wood if it does then all my guitars have been ruined.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:37 AM   #5
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I've got two guitars that I switched over to stainless frets. Neither one sounded noticably different to me. They may be just a touch brighter but your average set of ears will not notice it. A pickup swap could potentially add way more brightness to your guitar.
I typically play with a really smooth sound, as I like a fusiony / Holdsworth type of tone. The stainless frets certainly don't impede that approach. What more can I say?

They certainly feel nicer to play on. Bends and vibrato feel silky and smooth. Also, they will keep a polish a lot longer than standard frets.

They are harder to work on, but they're not that much harder. The most time consuming part is crowning. It takes me substantially longer to crown them than standard frets, leveling and dressing the ends doesn't seem to take much longer at all. The are a lot harder on nippers / cutters. Cutting a couple of sets worth will pretty much ruin the edge on some cutters.

I can't say that they wear down strings noticably faster. That may depend on the string brand and composition. I change strings fairly often anyway if I'm playing a lot so I've never noticed it.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123
Things I have heard:
SS frets are really bright compared to nickel silver
No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123
SS frets are so much smoother and easier to bend on
No. How well a fret is crowned and polished determines how smooth and easy the bending is. Also the height of the fret. (if your finger never touches the fretboard, it's easier to bend)

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123
SS Frets are much harder to work with when fretting
Yes. SS is a much harder alloy than NS. Common sense tells you it will be harder to work with. And more durable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123
SS wear down your strings
No. No worse than NS.

Unless you don't polish your frets well. Bending on rough NS frets will quickly smooth them to an acceptable degree. Bending on rough SS frets will abrade the strings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123
SS strings ruin the natural tone of tonewoods
lol wut?

Why are we talking about SS strings??? Who makes SS strings???

Oh, you meant SS frets. No. No appreciable tonal difference.
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Old 06-27-2009, 01:43 PM   #7
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SomeoneYouKnew.... You're like one of the first people I completely agree with. You're my hero right now.

How in the hell do frets improve tone? This is to the point that I think people are full of it. I do believe stainless steel frets were made just for wear prevention reasons. Just because it costs more doesn't mean it'll give you a better tone...
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Old 06-27-2009, 01:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SomeoneYouKnew
Why are we talking about SS strings??? Who makes SS strings???

D'Addario Well, might not be SS, but they have a higher steel content.
http://store.daddario.com/category/...els_Round_Wound
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Old 06-27-2009, 02:18 PM   #9
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i'm really wishing i had SS frets, my nickel ones have got fairly worn out after only 2 years of hard practicing. I have to polish them every two months or so or my bends get muted out because it accumulates crud so easy.


oh well
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Old 06-27-2009, 02:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinozoku
D'Addario Well, might not be SS, but they have a higher steel content.
http://store.daddario.com/category/...els_Round_Wound


Those strings have a martinistic type of steel in them if its stainless. The stainless steel for frets is most likely 304.

On a side not the resonant properties of the metals are different, I could see bends being easier because of the formation of chromium oxide on the frets.
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Old 06-27-2009, 02:37 PM   #11
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Old 06-27-2009, 02:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CorduroyEW
^you are correct.


Good to see we agree on something. 304 stainless has good resonant properties, and at the place that I work we actually uses this to test the state of stainless steel filter elements sometimes. If the filter has begun to degrade considerably it will sound very dull when you tap it with something, while one that has not will ring out quite well.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:55 PM   #13
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Ha, i ment SS frets, not strings.

I think I'm set on ss frets. I guess i'll just have to wait and see if I like them
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by XgamerGt04
Good to see we agree on something. 304 stainless has good resonant properties, and at the place that I work we actually uses this to test the state of stainless steel filter elements sometimes. If the filter has begun to degrade considerably it will sound very dull when you tap it with something, while one that has not will ring out quite well.





It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarcam123

I think I'm set on ss frets. I guess i'll just have to wait and see if I like them


If this is a refret then make sure you level the fretboard before you install the frets, if it's a build of your own I'll assume you already trued things up.

Don't use stainless frets unless you have done this type of thing in the past. They are much more difficult to work with.
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Last edited by CorduroyEW : 06-28-2009 at 04:09 AM.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:29 AM   #15
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Yes its for a build. So do you think that for a first build it would be appropriate to use NS then after I get better at fretting use SS?
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:46 AM   #16
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That stainless is harder to work might explain why some manufacturers can't be bothered and make up all sorts of bogus reasons for that decision.
I've had stainless frets on a recent build and I'm sold on them. Nothing about the tonal difference jumps out at me but I'd be highly skeptical on that front in any case. I'm all for anything that extends a fret's working life and ultimately my pocket.
I've also experimented with stainless strings but won't use them any more with nickel frets as they do wear the fret noticably faster, espectially on strings 1,2 and 3. [Actually to qualify that, I'm thinking of using stainless for wound strings and nickel trebles.]
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Old 06-28-2009, 05:24 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkdevil725
I honestly do not see why SS frets wouldnt be great. If they say the frets wear down the strings then so what, you can buy new ones for $5. But overall I am not edjumacated *yes it was intentional* in metals.

So you only use 1 or 2 sets of strings between refrets? I think not; unless you use stainless steel strings you'll be changing strings a lot more. I haven't done any calculations or anything but I am almost sure you'll end up paying more for stainless steel frets in the long run.

The tonal differences aren't massive but are still there; some like the tone some don't. The main complaint is that you get a "ping" in the attack like you get when you hit a golf ball; tbh though if you've got some OD going on or any effects you'll struggle to hear it.


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Old 06-28-2009, 10:53 AM   #18
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So you only use 1 or 2 sets of strings between refrets? I think not; unless you use stainless steel strings you'll be changing strings a lot more. I haven't done any calculations or anything but I am almost sure you'll end up paying more for stainless steel frets in the long run.

The tonal differences aren't massive but are still there; some like the tone some don't. The main complaint is that you get a "ping" in the attack like you get when you hit a golf ball; tbh though if you've got some OD going on or any effects you'll struggle to hear it.




There have been a number of people who have heard this ping, but there are also a few guys in town here that will actually do stainless refrets. I've talked with a few of them multiple times about having a refret done and they have always said that you will hear the ping from stainless only if the refret isn't done perfectly. Stainless frets are much much more difficult to work with due to the fact that your fretboard has to be perfect, you can adjust nickel-silver frets to make up for fretboard imperfections.
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