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In our August 2018 newsletter we published the pro's & con's about
stainless steel frets. Recently some manufactuerers are installing "SS" frets
at construction because they believe these type of frets will last longer, give
better sound, and a truer note with more sustain.
The con's are that these frets don't deliver better sound, more sustain, or
a true note. That the only thing for sure is they last longer.
So we contacted some of the top luthier's and repair technicians such as
Robert O'Brien and Dan Erlewine to get their opinion about stainless steel frets.
The replies are that these frets are difficult to install and requires strong and
diamond files to service then. They don't recommend "SS" frets, but will
install them for a higher price.
They offer no comment on whether they sustain better, intonate better, or
are any better then normal frets.
In our shop, we worked one or two guitars with "SS" frets and found that
they are hard to level and dress if fret buzz develops and we lose the
tools used to service them.
Moreover, one can be sure regardless of fret material frets do move and
develop fret buzz needing service that can and will increase the price
to service them.
Trying to re-invent the wheel when nickel-silver frets have worked
for a century doesn't make dollars or sense. Wiping strings after play
and regulr string changes results in a long life for any fret(s).