Fret Repair - Analysis - Part 1
Fret Repair Analysis | Analyze your guitar frets to see whether you need refretting, a fret job or fretwork in this major guitar repair article.
Fret Repair is an all encompassing word that can include maintaining frets, replacing frets or completing an entire fret job. Also it is referred to as fretwork, refretting or just replacing guitar frets.
Frets function to provide accurate intonation for each 1/2 tone of the guitar. The fret wire itself is a metal extrusion and consists of two parts:
Really there is a simple reason for this. Frets are designed to be softer than the strings that they serve. So in order to get longer life on your strings, frets are sacrificed. Luckily this wearing process can take many years unless you are a very prolific player.
Also musicians who use capos frequently tend to wear out frets much quicker than those of us who don't. Usually Bluegrass Music requires the use of capos in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and other positions causing quite severe fret wear.
Usually the 2 plain treble strings will wear out the frets prior to the bass or wound strings. A couple of reasons for this. This plain steel strings are smaller gage and hardened steel and cut into the soft fretwire very quickly.
The wound or bass strings are made of much softer copper windings and are of much larger gage, thus minimizing fret wear.
Also note that classical guitars have even softer frets than those of their steel stringed cousins. The reason for this is the classical guitar strings are very soft and fragile, when compared to steel strings. It is also very rare for you to have to replace frets on a classical guitar.
Reasons for replacing frets can vary. Some of the reasons are:
Gradually as the lower frets wear and the frets above them do not, the strings will start to buzz. This is because the worn fret allows the string to depress lower and the string cannot clear the frets above the worn fret any longer.
The greater capability the musician has the more likely he is to have frets worn completely up the neck.
Before attempting your fret job, you need to assemble the proper fret material and the tools to do the job.
One caution: Beware of a fret repair job with frets that are too high or tall. This can cause intonation problems due to the fact that typically strings are pressed firmly down to the fretboard, not just to the top of the fret.
By stretching the string this additional distance you can cause the string to stretch an additional micro distance, causing intonation problems.
The first option in a Fret Repair Job is to top-dress your frets: If you have enough fret height, your first fret repair option may be to top-dress the frets in lieu of actual fret replacement. This operation is usually limited to minor to moderate fret wear and can often put off a complete fret job by several years.
Top Dressing is by far the easiest fret repair operation for the do-it-yourself musician to complete as it does not involve any fret pulling or fret installation. You do however, have to remove your guitar nut.