How much fret wear is too much?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by crang, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Squier

    Sep 27, 2014
    Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Most people never let it get that far, they get a level and crown just when little wear spots begin to make the fret surface uneven.....
    SubSailer671 likes this.
  2. VM51SQ

    VM51SQ Squier-Meister

    Apr 14, 2017
    My first position frets have very visible dents, but I can't notice any detrimental effects from it so I'm happy for now. As someone else already mentioned, a fret job would by far exceed the value of the guitar. Since it's a T-style, just getting a new neck would be the most cost effective thing to do.
  3. Rodiebobw

    Rodiebobw Squier-Nut

    Jan 12, 2020
    Rockwall, Tx.
    Morning gents,
    I dont have a specific answer about say a measurement on the frets but i have a admission.. I am a divitor.. Therefore I

    My Melody Maker fret damage is requiring a fret job I think, and I bought the SE to mod and because I was concerned about replacing the frfre on the Melody Maker.

    Through help from the site and others I recently leveled the frets on the Se and got froggy and did my acoustic..

    I came to the conclusion on both due to clanking, divit damage to the lower frets and mainly coz I noticed alot of yous gize were doing them after purchase.. I wish I had done the SE sooner..

    Either way I checked the SE, and my acoustic with a utility razor on both to check level, and number of frets.. So to answer when would be about clanking, damage to the frets, divots, and also any dead frets above the 12th.. I kind of aghast myself when I started noticing divit damage on the SE after beating on it for six months and having to accept I was the culprit..lolol​
  4. diego_cl

    diego_cl Squier Talker

    Feb 6, 2020
    That's the reason I learned how to do it by myself... doing it right requires too much time and elbow grease, so nobody would strive for a better job on my guitar than myself.
    And some luthiers assign the job to an apprentice who mess it up.

    This was my first fret dressing attempt 2 years ago. Not the best job, but it worked out, I learned a lot and I didn't get mad at anyone.

    This is my latest job after 0000 steel wool... the fret from the left shines better, because it's polished with Autosol.
    It takes a lot of time to achieve this result by hand without damaging the fretboard nor heating the frets with power tools.
    Time is too expensive, so most guitar repairmen cut corners to make it economically viable.
    Viking likes this.
  5. diego_cl

    diego_cl Squier Talker

    Feb 6, 2020
    Some people say .035" is the minimum height needed for a proper fret leveling (which is the height of lowest frets like 6130). But it's not a rule... what matters is the ability of the player to do his thing comfortably.

    It also depends on the neck condition... some necks are way too uneven and their frets need to be sanded a lot.

    According to my little experience, most frets are lowered by .005" after a fret leveling.

    Maybe this video will give you an idea on how to approach your current issue:

    Stewmac sell a caliper moded for fret height measurement.
    I stole the idea from them and modded my old caliper... you could do the same if you have one.

    01.jpg 02.jpg 03.jpg 04.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
    Viking likes this.
  6. diego_cl

    diego_cl Squier Talker

    Feb 6, 2020
  7. jasper

    jasper Squier Talker

    Sep 8, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I was in a rush and had arranged to view a used guitar in the next was Squier Telecaster Custom ( with the P90 pup lookalikes) and I stupidly didn't check the fret wear sufficiently.

    I only wanted the guitar body as a donor body for two pups I'd had wound for me in the very early 70s which were on my old guitar which was with me on every pro gig I did in the 8 years I used it which averaged around 250 gigs per year and which I abandoned when I retired in 1980.
    It was very fret worn by then and languished in my loft for 35 years so the Squier body was meant to house the old pups as they were still superb sounding but when I looked closely at the Squier neck after I got it home, the frets had definitely seen better days and I resigned myself to having thrown away a bit of money. Hardly a princely sum as I only paid £130.00 with a well used but still serviceable plush lined case thrown in.

    It was nothing to do with a bit of money I'd theoretically wasted, it was the fact that I was careless in not checking the guitar neck properly before buying it which properly p'd me off.
    I plugged it into my gear and it sounded really good, so much so that I dropped the idea of it as donor body and persevered playing with it with the action a bit higher than I liked.

    I have to point out that I like my guitar action as low is practically possible and a few months later later I was in the process of levelling the frets on another guitars I'd bought which weren't worn but had a few high frets so I thought I'd have a go and see if I could dress and level the frets on the Squier but to be honest I wasn't optimistic and didn't think I could dress the frets level so that the delves in the frets disappeared and neck to remain playable.

    Anyway, there was just enough meat on them to be able to with the aid of a good levelling beam to dress them level and then re-crown them. The neck was then adjusted to be superbly straight and it easily matched my Fender Tele neck and I got the action so low it's virtually effortless for me to play and I have to say that of all the guitars I own, including a Gretsch and Fender Tele it's now my go to guitar every time and I would never consider selling it!

    With that experience I went on to level and restore the frets of the old guitar I used professionally for all those years so it's amazing how a badly worn fretboard can be recovered with care if you're prepared to put the effort in.