When do you get your frets dressed?

mbkri

Country Gent
Sep 22, 2012
2,815
Chicago
Im sure theres opinions as different as the guitars we love, but i’m interested to hear your thoughts. When is it time for a fret dressing or even a refret?
Just put the annual Lemon oil on my 6120 and Im looking at the frets 1-8 and they’re looking pretty flat and beginning to feel a little bumpy with the beginnings of string divots. Hard to photograph.
This guitar ( my main player) looks like it might be one string change away from a trip to the luthiers.
What do you tolerate? Do you wait for strings to start buzzing? Do you take stock everytime you change your strings? Thoughts? 4EC2302D-2750-4612-890A-33BA6836C0AE.jpeg F2283D1C-8D5E-4DBF-8D7F-FA5EFBF259A2.jpeg DF1AB294-6BA7-4EEE-9A8C-5218F7350ADC.jpeg
 

thunder58

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 23, 2010
26,087
tappan ny
Don't really know much on the topic but I can see the impressions on the frets . I bet a re-fret would do the guitar justice ( just my thought )
I hear stainless steel is a way to go , but a difficult job as the stainless does not bend ( contours ) easily and a pricey job too.
 

SLICKFASTER

Country Gent
Dec 29, 2009
1,303
USA
Since dressing lowers all frets to the most worn I’ve never purchased the service… if you have favorite play zones, replacing those frets might be a better way to go… I play with severely grooved fretts on a couple guitars with no issues. I’m gonna go Stainless soon as I create an unplayable condition.. I believe you can go well past what looks severe…
 

mbkri

Country Gent
Sep 22, 2012
2,815
Chicago
I’m more inclined to replace frets than recrown them because, as @slickfaster said, it lowers all the frets, but i’ve never done either before.
Theres always the “if it aint broke dont fix it” approach, but at some point soon i think this guitar is going to start buzzing, or maybe just sounding less bright than it used to, but i wont notice it happening. Like when you change strings ( as i just did) and you remember how fantastic it sounds.
 

Runamok

Country Gent
Don't really know much on the topic but I can see the impressions on the frets . I bet a re-fret would do the guitar justice ( just my thought )
I hear stainless steel is a way to go , but a difficult job as the stainless does not bend ( contours ) easily and a pricey job too.
You’re reading my email! Recently priced a re-fret.
(fun fact, that word is one “R” shy of a ferret anagram)

Dressing frets (per my pricing) is half the cost of my last (recent) std refret.
A 50% increase in price to go SST.
 
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Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,355
Petaluma
I had my Anni Jr plekd and redone. It had such huge divets from cowboy chords that they had to take quite a bit off on all the other frets and now they are tiny. I've worn them some more so this baby is gonna get new stainless steel jumbo frets.
 

radd

Friend of Fred
Dec 27, 2017
5,540
Home
My frets are starting to take a beating because for the last couple years I’ve been playing mostly Bluegrass and Bluegrass flat picking lives in the cowboy chord zone:(

I’m considering buying a beater guitar and learning to refret.
 
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Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,262
Monkey Island
Dress with fret buzz(uneven frets) when bends and vibrato are affected(fret dimples, flat spots), or intonation issues(flat spots, extreme wear). Or any combination of the above.

Refret is necessary when you can’t dress the frets anymore or the frets are so low the fretboard restricts a fluent motion without friction or you simply don’t like the feeling of the fretboard.
 

jvin248

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
153
Near Detroit
.

Pot holes in frets bugs me and I'd level the guitar. It will play better than it did from the factory afterward. No need to refret yet.

iu
iu



If you do someday get a refret, just get stainless steel. I only use stainless on any new builds or repairs. I used to choose 'medium jumbo' to get more life out of frets but with stainless I just get 'medium' wire and with installation technique adjustments I find the total time is less and easier for stainless than the old wire. The upcharge on stainless is mostly because it's sold as a premium product just like players will pay more for exotic wood on their guitar, the excuses are imaginary to justify the extra price.

iu

.
 
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O Riley

Synchromatic
Jun 2, 2018
588
Beautifull Tennessee
Hi guys. I just picked up one of guitars from a fret dress. Could not be happier.
This one needed it, and I could tell.
If there's something I won't do, it's a fret dress. Leave it to a skilled professional.
I've built a relationship with Rance, and trust is good thing.
He has the tools, talent and experience. That goes a long way with me.

It's not that expensive and I can afford the confidence of something done right.

I did learn from him, the other day, never use steel wool, or any kind of sanding block.
You will run the risk of uneven frets.By the uneven pressure of your finger tips.
Where as, he uses files and leveling rulers, etc.

Use a professional. A good one.
 

mbkri

Country Gent
Sep 22, 2012
2,815
Chicago
When i come into some money Im going to take all my guitars to a luthier and have them all looked at for fret repairs. I wont be doing any of that myself either.
 

Craig Encinitas

Gretschie
May 3, 2021
187
Encinitas, Ca
While watching one of the reputable YouTube guitar tech podcast shows… He recommended (for heavy handed players, like me) polishing the frets every time you change the strings.

I have started doing this with 000 steel wool on my Strat. There are significant divots in the cowboy chord area. When the time comes, I will weigh stainless steel frets being a possibility, refretting with jumbo replacements or just stock size.

I am also practicing being aware of how hard I press on the strings. Can’t say it’s going well, but that’s part of doing business.
 
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