#1
I've had my Epiphone Les Paul Standard for less than a year, and I'm noticing visible scratches on the frets where the strings have dug into them. Within a couple more years surely this is going to be causing some major playability issues...

However, I know there's a lot of variables involved (playing style, guitar, amount of playing, etc) but how long are frets meant to stay smooth and playable for?
#3
Depends on the fret material,quality of the material,size of the frets,your upkeep on the guitar,how often the guitar is played,and so on.


The frets on my Jackson DK2S have noticeable wear after about a 1 1/2 years,while the frets on my 7 string and Warmoth guitars have no problems even though they're older guitars and used more often.Stainless steel frets have a really long life since they're a hard material,while the standard nickel frets can wear out within a year or two depending on the player and quality of the metal.

Generally you either replace the frets or do a fret dress when you start to get playability and sound issues from old and worn frets.

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#4
Well the frets on my first electric, a cheap as Samick, are still smooth and unworn, which I found to be strange, as I've played it much more than the Epi so far.

So really, this isn't an unusual situation, just unlucky circumstances?
#5
Quote by Rokeman
Well the frets on my first electric, a cheap as Samick, are still smooth and unworn, which I found to be strange, as I've played it much more than the Epi so far.

So really, this isn't an unusual situation, just unlucky circumstances?


Not unusual at all,epi models seem to have wear issues,at least every model I've owned has.My G-400 has canyons carved into the frets at this point,and I refuse to spend the money to replace the frets,so it sits in its case hahah.

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#6
Ah, well I can't let it sit in it's case. Guess when the time comes, I'll have to get it refretted with stronger frets.
#7
Quote by Rokeman
Ah, well I can't let it sit in it's case. Guess when the time comes, I'll have to get it refretted with stronger frets.


Invest in stainless steel frets if you can.They may be more expensive,but they're definitely worth it.

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#8
Quote by Pr0gNut
Invest in stainless steel frets if you can.They may be more expensive,but they're definitely worth it.


Sure thing, thankyou for confirming that this isn't an unheard of problem.

#9
The epis seem to use a really soft alloy in their frets. It took me 15 years to wear down the frets on my MIA fender to the point they needed replaced. But took just a few months on my epi LP standard. Stainless is the way to go, all my guitars have it. But there are some shops that dont like to install em. Warmoth wont install stainless on necks with binding. So expect to pay considerably more than the normal refret price for stainless frets in a LP.
#10
My Jackson SLSMG had really bad fret wear to the point that the guitar had to be sent in for a fret replacement in all 24 Frets six months ago.

But other than the Jackson the Ibby's i own never had a problem with fret wear.
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#11
epi uses nickel frets as opposed to steel, softer metal especially if you have steel strings, harder metal, wears quicker, oddly enough i have a 64 mustang that my uncle gave me that has never had a fret job and i finally have to get the first 7 replaced and ive had that since i was wow 12 i believe
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#12
Thanks for the information guys! Seems strange that Epi would use soft frets knowing they won't last...
#13
Quote by Rokeman
Thanks for the information guys! Seems strange that Epi would use soft frets knowing they won't last...


Makes sense if it's cheaper for them though It's a business after all and they need to maximise profits.
#14
Quote by Rokeman
Thanks for the information guys! Seems strange that Epi would use soft frets knowing they won't last...


Easier to machine...

My old Epiphone didn't have much fret wear on it and I owned it for about 4 years and played the hell out of it. Weird. The only new guitar I've had fret issues with was an Ibanez AEG acoustic after about a year of ownership.
#15
Just economics the softer alloy epi uses is cheaper than higher quality frets. They did the math and they save more money fixing a few frets under warranty vs the cost of better frets in all their guitars.

When mine went out I sent em an email, they said would fix the bad frets. But really wouldnt fix the problem as the new ones would have worn down to. Not to mention they probably wouldnt have fixed the uneven fret board or leveled the frets.
#16
Quote by Tackleberry
Just economics the softer alloy epi uses is cheaper than higher quality frets. They did the math and they save more money fixing a few frets under warranty vs the cost of better frets in all their guitars.

When mine went out I sent em an email, they said would fix the bad frets. But really wouldnt fix the problem as the new ones would have worn down to. Not to mention they probably wouldnt have fixed the uneven fret board or leveled the frets.


That does make sense from an economics point of view... well when the time comes, I'll get it redone with good frets, as having it refretted too many times would probably be detrimental to the neck's health, so to speak.
#17
Please research or know what you're talking about before you post. Fretwire grades are so close together in price it would be pointless to save $1.00 on 50ft of fretwire when it's cheaper to buy all the same fretwire in bulk for cheaper yet. Unless you're wanting tinted fretwire (which is stupid) or stainless steel, the price for Nickel/Silver fretwire is about the same regardless what grade you get

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Fretting_supplies/Fretwire/Stewart-MacDonald_Fretwire/Medium_Fretwire.html
http://www.alliedlutherie.com/fretwire.htm
http://www.lmii.com/carttwo/thirdproducts.asp?NameProdHeader=+Fretwire

*Back on Topic*
My 1984 Dean ML still has the original frets on it and it plays just fine. There's very noticable wear on almost all of them but it still plays/sounds flawless. It was gigged pretty heavy before I obtained it and I abuse it daily.
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#18
Out of all my guitars, the only one with fret wear which affects the guitar is my 1986 Tele...which is understandable, really.
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#19
I don't think it's a matter of cheap frets, I think it's more a matter of fret size. Fretwire, for the most part, is fretwire. It's either nickel silver or it's stainless steel, and SS is very, very rare. If you don't know if you have it on your guitar, you don't have it on your guitar. It's not something that comes from the factory.

So, back to the original point - the material in epi frets is probably the same as in most other guitars, but the geometry of the frets is more conducive to wear, or maybe epi frets don't actually wear any quicker than others, and one or two people just happened to have strangely fast fret wear.
#20
Just pressing down moderately on the string and moving it back and forth will show a bit on the fret though... I'll do some snooping about, talk to a guitar tech that runs a store relatively close, see if I can find a definitive answer.
#21
Well, there's a difference between scratching the fret and actually wearing it down. If your guitar isn't that old you may just be wearing off the initial polish, which isn't a big deal at all. If you're seeing actual indentations where the strings meet the frets, ones you can see in the outline of the fret, then you may have an issue.
#22
Quote by Roc8995
Well, there's a difference between scratching the fret and actually wearing it down. If your guitar isn't that old you may just be wearing off the initial polish, which isn't a big deal at all. If you're seeing actual indentations where the strings meet the frets, ones you can see in the outline of the fret, then you may have an issue.


Sorry, should of clarified. When I just randomly press and move a string a bit, it's just wearing it off a bit, not leaving full on marks. But the frets on which I guess I use vibrato on most when mucking about, they actually have indented scratches on them. I can get some good photos of them tomorrow actually to show what I mean.
#23
I do have an idea of what Im talking about. Here most frets are pretty much the same just the specs of width etc vary, so here we have a choice of good quality or higher quality.

In china they adulterate everything. Its just the way they do business there. So metal quality there varies alot from unusable to high quality. This is an example when the bottled water guy delivers to your house he will look to see if you inspect the seal on the lid. If you do he will keep bringing the good stuff, if you dont he fills it with tap water next time. So its not hard to believe they would do the same with metal, you check every shipment they bring good stuff you let it slide they bring fret wire made from wheel weights. And bribery is rampant there a greased palm here and they use the lower quality materials and keep the extra for themselves. Remember they were putting industrial chemicals in baby formula to boost their profits, figuring nobody would notice.

My wifes from china and Ive watched her shop there. If she could she bought imported products. Only buying chinese made as a last resort. Same with most everybody there. They know its very hard to trust chinese products day to day. And she ran the water buy thru the wringer every time he came to make sure she was getting what she was paying for.

The frets on my epi wasnt just polishing the outer finish off. It was leaving dents after a little while to where it was hard to vibrato some places. And the heavy e was grinding away the frets, to where you could see impressions from the wraps in the fret. My squier did the same thing. I know Im hard on frets but my MIA fender as I said took 15 years to need frets same with my carvin.

As a side note epi could easily use stainless frets as its used in china ALOT. Almost every home/apartment there has stainless burglar bars on their windows. And many times the down stairs entrance doors will be stainless. Where as here its use is limited due to cost.
#24
Hmmm... sounds like there's a bit of a mystery going on with these Epi frets. Here's a pic of my situation anyhow.

#25
Wow, thats not that good. I've never seen a guitar where the string windings have actually started to wear the frets, usually its the whole top of the fret, not just where the windings are.
#26
The D string, at the very top of the pic, seems to have a kink on it right above the fret, not sure if it's related. I've noticed this happening before I had these strings on, but I decided to put it out of my mind, until I recently closely inspected again.
#27
They're many variables related to how fast your frets wear down. Fret material, size of frets, type of strings you use, how you play...etc.

I have an 85' Charvel (I'm the original owner) that has seen a lot of playing time over the years. Those frets look like crap.....but the guitar still plays without any issues like fret buzz, intonation problems.....etc. I guess my point is.....fret wear is only a problem when it causes playability problems............not by how it looks.
#28
That pic is what my epi frets looked like after about 2 months. Easy enough to polish smooth with steel wool. But they got lower and more uneven each time you did so.
#29
Quote by Afterhours
They're many variables related to how fast your frets wear down. Fret material, size of frets, type of strings you use, how you play...etc.

I have an 85' Charvel (I'm the original owner) that has seen a lot of playing time over the years. Those frets look like crap.....but the guitar still plays without any issues like fret buzz, intonation problems.....etc. I guess my point is.....fret wear is only a problem when it causes playability problems............not by how it looks.


It's not causing playability problems as such yet, but I'm anticipating it will slightly down the track...
#30
You know, that picture looks like the neck and fretboard are lacquered. If that's the case, that may just be the lacquer being worn off at this point.....not the fret material itself.

That would explain the visible grooves of the string windings....as the grooves of the windings don't scrape off the lacquer all the way down to the fret material.
#31
Quote by Afterhours
You know, that picture looks like the neck and fretboard are lacquered. If that's the case, that may just be the lacquer being worn off at this point.....not the fret material itself.

That would explain the visible grooves of the string windings....as the grooves of the windings don't scrape off the lacquer all the way down to the fret material.


The neck itself is lacqured, but I'm not too sure on the fretboard being... I've also never heard of frets being lacquered either? But if that's the case, that is good news I guess.
#32
Take your fingernail and try to see if you can scrape off those grooves of the string windings on the frets. If you can, that is definately lacquer.........

And yes, I have seen guitars with the whole neck and fretboard lacquered before.
#33
No dice It's definately stronger-than-my-fingernail metal. Thanks anyhow.
#34
I imagine if you let your strings rust they might wear down the frets more quickly than if you restring regularly