View Full Version : Stainless steel vs nickel silver frets
I needto replace 4 to 6 frets after only a year
of playing. Is there a difference in quality between
the manufacturers w/ the nickel silver or are they
the same ?
Is replacing them with S.S. really that much more
difficult than nickel ? To keep the cost down, I'll probably
do it myself. Finally, Where does one purchase S.S.
frets ? Stew Mac doesnt carry them.
I don't know of anywhere that one can buy SS fret wire on a retail level. I have been experimenting for the past year or so with the material and have been extremely pleased with the result (and also extremely dissapointed in the difficulty of refretting with the material).
Most fretwire is produced by three manufactures and the hardness levels of the standard nickel/silver available are all comparable. Hence my decision to spend a bundle to tool up for the new material. I hope at some point in the future to be able to offer a service of refrets with SS and have a goal to be able to offer it as an option on our new mandolins. I do imagine that the cost to do either will end up being quite high as the stuff is extremely labor intensive and hard as heck on tools. However, the cost hopefully will be worth it as future refrets (if my trials are successful) will be rendered pointless.
I'm getting ready to switch to stainless completely. I have been using it for a while now and see no ill effects or downsides. It is a bear to install though. The fingerboard has to be perfect! As far as string wear goes I haven't seen any increase. If you press down hard enough to damage the strings you may have other issues http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
Even if there would be more string wear I would rather restring than refret http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
According to Ken Parker, maker of Parker Guitars, first to use stainless steel for fret material, and holder of several patents for using stainless steel fret material, if you can work stainless steel into fret tangs it is no harder than the best nickle silver.
As he explained it to me, stainless comes in various hardness, and the stuff that is glued on to a pheonolic fretboard (such as with Parkers and CA guitars) is substantially harder than any of the steel offered for conventional frets.
He feels that the difference between top-quality nickle silver and the quality of steel offered for conventional frets makes using steel in a conventional situation not worth the effort.
Don't shoot the messenger.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif