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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / frett sprout

Next 20 Messages  
cedarchoper58

62 Strat Man

May 5th, 2019 05:27 PM   Edit   Profile  

i recently read a lot of guitars new have this and develope it. How common is it and how much do the fretts usualy stick out thks

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 5th, 2019 06:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

The problem is caused by wood used to make the guitar neck that has not properly or completely seasoned (dried and shrank as far as it's going to go).

The wood shrinks and the fret ends stick out a bit. It's rarely something yhat you can see--but you certainly feel it along the edge of the fretboard. Feels like a cheese grater.

It's easily remedied with a small file and some careful work.

Look

ejm

usa

May 6th, 2019 08:31 AM   Edit   Profile  

In the first couple of minutes of the link, Mr. Dave states that the problem in the video is not fret sprout. In his opinion it's that the fret ends were not finished properly to begin with.

My own semi-edumacated opine is that it could be a combination. However, poor finishing is probably the first thing to tackle, with this guitar or any other.

I also believe that fret sprout and poor finishing are often blurred together and lumped in the same basket and addressed as being the same thing, when they are not. Sorta like guitar players mixing up hum versus noise.

IF a guitar had actual shrinkage and fret sprout, and IF the fret ends were rounded and not just quickly beveled/angled before shipping it out the door, there'd probably be a lot fewer complaints. You'd feel less cheese grating on your hands with a nicely rounded mini sausage fret end as opposed to a beveled chopped off end.

I must be extremely lucky and/or not picky. I have owned several guitars over the past almost 50 years, have never had a cheese grating sprouting issue, and actually have never played one that did.


wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
May 6th, 2019 09:54 AM   Edit   Profile  

The music stores that I associate with all offer lines of instruments that are best qualified as entry-level. Every few years we will encounter a batch of instruments from either China or Indonesia with honest examples of fret sprout and that might include some instruments associated to known brands. It's simply a matter of not seasoning the wood properly. It cuts into the profit margin of the store since they then need to pay me to fix it. You can often make a distinction between fret sprout and poor fret factory fret work by finding fractures in the polyurethane finish at the fret ends where the frets have pushed through a high gloss fretboard edge or sometimes even you'll find a splinter of rosewood caused by a fret tang moving outward. Poor factory fretwork is usually accompanied by inferior hardware and materials and these are just bad guitars that often can't be redeemed.

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 6th, 2019 10:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

Dave Reaume is a competent tech, but some of the things he says are incorrect.

In the first case, the fret sprout is due to wood shrinkage.

On cheaper guitars with no fingerboard binding, the frets are installed, the ends clipped off, and then the entire neck is held against a belt sander to bring the clipped fret ends flush with the wood. Then finish is applied. No manufacturer installs frets and then hand-finishes each fret end flush with the wood. That is cost prohibitive.

Another thing Dave says that is incorrect is his interpretation of fret wear. Those divots in the tops of frets are, in his opinion, dents--and not due to fret material being worn away.

This is incorrect because fret wire is solid. If they were dents, the metal along the sides of the wire would be displaced and the fret would be wider where the dents are. The material displaced from the fret top has to go somewhere, and it is non-compressible.

To demonstrate this, roll out a string of Play Doh on a table top and then make a shallow dent in it with a fingertip. The material displaces and the string of Play Doh is wider at that point.

The truth about fret wear is that the metal is worn away by abrasion from the strings. If fret wire were hollow, then denting it might be possible.

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 01:03 PM, May 6th, 2019)

Achase4u
Contributing Member
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U.S. - Virginia

May 6th, 2019 01:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

"In the first case, the fret sprout is due to wood shrinkage."

Where is George from Seinfeld when you need him.

This is correct. It's also why when I get a new guitar or new neck, the first winter that comes is when the fret's start sticking out the sides. The relative humidity drops significantly in my house as I have an oil furnace/dry heat. It can go down to 20% humidity in here. The wood shrinks, the frets do not, the result is ouch.

One of the first things Peegoo showed me is how to fix those nasty frets sticking out. It's just routine on my guitars now when I get a new one.

And yes, it's material wearing away, not dents.

It *looks* like a dent, but isn't.

I was reading about this in Dan Erlewines book last night. He said he's heard people claim that frets are softer now than the nickel silver on guitars in the 50s and 60s, but the truth is their nickel content and hardness has only increased since the vintage days. Players don't use flatwound strings with a wound G anymore, which Dan supposes were slightly less hard on frets. Steel string material with higher carbon content is the norm now with more bending and an unwound G string. People are just grinding away on their frets more now.

This is why I love SS frets. They wear so slowly. They also hold a polish forever.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 07:00 PM, May 6th, 2019)

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 6th, 2019 03:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

In the 20s and 30s, brass fret wire was common because it was cheap and easy to draw through forming dies. They were quite soft and didn't last as long as modern nickel alloys. Martin tried to overcome this by using bar frets, which is a fret wire that's generally rectangular in cross section with a radiused top. The tang that anchors it is as wide as the visible portion of the fret.

Nickel silver (a common name for fret wire) contains no silver.

Achase4u
Contributing Member
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U.S. - Virginia

May 6th, 2019 04:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

It seems that nickel silver is mostly copper! How'd they manage to keep them looking silvery!?

Achase4u
Contributing Member
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U.S. - Virginia

May 6th, 2019 04:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

"In the 20s and 30s, brass fret wire was common because it was cheap and easy to draw through forming dies. They were quite soft and didn't last as long as modern nickel alloys."


Yea but, how about that brass TONE.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 06:59 PM, May 6th, 2019)

cedarchoper58

62 Strat Man

May 6th, 2019 05:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

do stainless fretts change the tone

Leftee
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VA

May 6th, 2019 06:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

I don’t think I can hear a difference with SS frets. It’s the only thing I’ll order on a Warmoth neck these days.

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 6th, 2019 07:56 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've been using stainless fretwire on all my builds for more than 10 years and I don't notice any 'spikiness' or other added highs like some players claim.

Heck--there's a tone control on the guitar, and there's even a backup tone control on the amp, so I have no idea what they're griping about.

Even if there were a tonal difference, the smooth, glassy feel and almost permanent longevity of the material make SS frets a no-brainer anyway.

Sharkie
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North ON, Canada

May 6th, 2019 08:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

I have to agree with Leftee and PG. If you have a choice, go SS. Great feel, no change in tone and no maintenance.

Leftee
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VA

May 6th, 2019 09:00 PM   Edit   Profile  

It’s a *little* harder to level, crown and polish. But it isn’t that bad, really.

Achase4u
Contributing Member
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U.S. - Virginia

May 6th, 2019 09:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Heck--there's a tone control on the guitar, and there's even a backup tone control on the amp, so I have no idea what they're griping about."

Just wait til you get asked to add 50 turns to a pickup to remedy this. How in the world did guitar players with only stock pickups in the 50s ever survive lol.

I can't say that I detect any appreciable difference in tone on the SS frets. That's not the same as saying it isn't there. But it is so subtle it gets lost in all the other more unique features of the guitar that have more affect on the tone anyway.

They are a bit harder to level, but darn they hold polish well.

That's one thing I noticed when I spent months working in a boutique guitar manufacturers shop and machine shop. The harder the material, the better it polishes, though it does take longer.

SS should really be the standard, honestly. They have to be done right, though because any chatter marks left in will basically never get played out like on nickel frets. One tiny, tiny scratch left in will feel like a mountain on SS frets.

wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
May 7th, 2019 11:05 AM   Edit   Profile  

"...one little scratch" yep.

I have a damaged, arthritic, and deformed index finger from exactly that. Luckily I have more fingers.

DrKev

Paris, France

It's just a guitar, not rocket science.
May 7th, 2019 11:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

Warmoth have done a whole series of very cool tests on their YouTube channel including...

...stainless steel vs nickel silver on the same guitar and SAME NECK!

Yes, they recorded a guitar with nickel silver frets, refretted the same guitar neck with stainless and recorded again. (They even recorded the same guitar multiple times across different days to show you what day-to-day variatioon in playing sounds like).

So, nickel silver vs stainless...

There is possibly a very small extra brightness to stainless steel. But frankly if you need to refret the same neck and compare recordings to suspect that the effect is actually there, that difference is smaller than guitar-to guitar variation. In other words, too small to worry about!

And yes, stainless frets are awesome.

Achase4u
Contributing Member
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U.S. - Virginia

May 7th, 2019 12:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

"I have a damaged, arthritic, and deformed index finger from exactly that. Luckily I have more fingers."

Arthritis sucks, man. Sorry. I've got plenty of issues myself from leaning over making pickups and working on guitars etc since I was a teenager.


Benefits of SS abound, another thing to consider is refrets per neck. Now, some of us may never need to refret a neck on a guitar because we don't bend a ton or play 8 hours a day and shows on weekends, but for many pros with vintage instruments, there is some consideration about the fretboard and slots. If the fingerboard needs leveling between refrets(which some techs swear by), you will be running out of material eventually. There were some round-lam 60s Fender necks that would come in to the guitar shop that had barely any rosewood left.

Stainless frets = not only less dressings, less refrets.

I rest my case.

DrKev - this is sort of what I suspected. Very cool videos that Warmoth does. I was surprised actually, how much I could hear between ash, alder and 'hogany bodies.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 02:20 PM, May 7th, 2019)

Peegoo
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Planet Peegoo

Rhythm & Lewd Guitarist
May 7th, 2019 01:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

Years ago I asked wrnchbndr to refret both my CS Strat and CS Tele with SS fret wire. He is a freaking Yoda with fretwork and it was worth every penny.

Both guitars play and sound just like they did when I got the necks back. No wear; not even any marks on the frets' tops. Springtime fresh--just like the day they were born.

Bigfoot
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Indy

When I get older, losing my hair...
May 21st, 2019 10:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

I bought my 1978 Tele Deluxe from Cowtown in Las Vegas via the Internet. Certainly a gamble not being able to play it but the pictures they sent and discussions eased my fears. I live in Indiana with humidity running between about 50-90 year round. When the Tele arrived it had severe fret sprout. Fortunately I waited 1 month and the problem went away. I am glad I didn't get the file out.

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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / frett sprout




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