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View Full Version : In your opinion, which strings "eat" frets faster?


piloto117
03-02-2012, 09:13 AM
I'm kind of curious to know if not only the material of which the strings are made of (nickel, steel, etc), but also gauge (thinner cuts more?) and string core shape (hex, round) plays a significant role in fretwear.
What's your take?

EADGBE
03-02-2012, 10:57 AM
I think they're all about the same with the exception of nylon. I mean it's metal on metal.

snowblind56
03-02-2012, 11:01 AM
I found Dean Markley Blue Steels to wear my frets faster.

Dev...in
03-02-2012, 12:36 PM
steel is harder, and wears frets faster than pure nickel. It does depend on other factors. The best way i think to avoid unecessary fretwear is to change strings somewhat frequently (at least 4 times a year imo) depending on use. Polished clean frets will last longer. Also there are various grades and inconsistancies in fretwire which determine how soft or hard the material is.

fwiw: I used to use GHS boomers, these were harder on my frets than the pure nickles i use now.

scolfax
03-02-2012, 02:18 PM
Aren't "pure nickel" strings just nickel wrapped steel on the wound strings?

Dev...in
03-02-2012, 04:33 PM
"nickel wound" is nickel wrap. In short yes. But if you buy a slightly more fancy "pure nickel" set the plains are nickel coated or contain some nickel. The string industry is very murky about this. Mostly because the proportion of specific mentioned alloys is the secret formula. Whatever the case may be some really bright strings even use stainless on the wrap, which is still harder than most frets and therefore sorta bad for your frets. YMMV. Live fast play, hard and don't worry about your frets.

but please change your strings! all the worst looking frets i have ever seen belonged to guitarists who say "oh i only change strings when i break one"

scolfax
03-02-2012, 05:37 PM
^^^ cool, thanks for the info!

GAD
03-02-2012, 05:51 PM
Change them before they rust and your frets will last forever.

edit - yup - what he said. :)

DustyRhodesJr
03-02-2012, 06:53 PM
Stainless steel strings will wear your frets out faster.

tracye
03-02-2012, 07:14 PM
Great sounding strings and that they are fret eaters is nonsenseRotosounds will also eat through your frets.your fingers will be more relaxed, and you can play faster, cleaner and more effortless all at the same time.

RocksOff
03-02-2012, 08:51 PM
Stainless steel will eat softer frets faster. Basic science.

straycat113
03-02-2012, 10:36 PM
I change my strings at least once a month.A few small but important issues come into play when it comes to the life of your frets. First off if you are a blues based player and do a lot of bending your frets are going to wear out faster than someone playing shred or jazz where they are not bending anywhere near as much. Second and the most simple but neglected rule- wipe down your strings after each session. I see a lot of guys just wipe down the top of their strings-big mistake! Grab each string separately holding the top and bottom and slide up and down from the bridge to the nut. What happens is that all that crut on the bottom gets hard and starts cutting into your frets. The coolest little gadget I have come across in the last few years is the -Tone Gear String Cleaner Tool, which clamps down on all 6 strings and cleans both top and bottom evenly.-
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/tonegear-the-string-cleaner-cleaning-tool/580303000000000?src=3WWRWXGB&ZYXSEM=0&gclid=CJSoyp6Ayq4CFUHf4Aodmwtr_Q

omfg51
03-02-2012, 11:01 PM
steel is harder, and wears frets faster than pure nickel. It does depend on other factors. The best way i think to avoid unecessary fretwear is to change strings somewhat frequently (at least 4 times a year imo) depending on use. Polished clean frets will last longer. Also there are various grades and inconsistancies in fretwire which determine how soft or hard the material is.

fwiw: I used to use GHS boomers, these were harder on my frets than the pure nickles i use now.
I literally MUST change my strings every 2 weeks at the longest. They die so quickly. I have pure acid hands :D

RoadRunner
03-02-2012, 11:18 PM
IMO... the strings that "eat" frets the fastest are the ones that get played the most.
If you play a lot you're going to wear out the frets on your guitar, the type of strings used doesn't matter.

Jazzydave
03-02-2012, 11:42 PM
I change my strings at least once a month.A few small but important issues come into play when it comes to the life of your frets. First off if you are a blues based player and do a lot of bending your frets are going to wear out faster than someone playing shred or jazz where they are not bending anywhere near as much. Second and the most simple but neglected rule- wipe down your strings after each session. I see a lot of guys just wipe down the top of their strings-big mistake! Grab each string separately holding the top and bottom and slide up and down from the bridge to the nut. What happens is that all that crut on the bottom gets hard and starts cutting into your frets. The coolest little gadget I have come across in the last few years is the -Tone Gear String Cleaner Tool, which clamps down on all 6 strings and cleans both top and bottom evenly.-
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/tonegear-the-string-cleaner-cleaning-tool/580303000000000?src=3WWRWXGB&ZYXSEM=0&gclid=CJSoyp6Ayq4CFUHf4Aodmwtr_Q

Bending strings has nothin to do with it...playin the same chords over and over does. I play all over the board which means I'm putting little pressure on each fret for limited amounts of time - people who stick to "cowboy chords" tend to wear out the first 3-4 frets first. Blues players who play around E mostly wear out the first few and around the 12th fret.

As someone who performs MANY times a year and plays everyday, changing your strings on a regular basis and cleaning your frets is key. A simple wipe down and/or light polish of your frets will do wonders, regardless of which strings you're using.

I'm always saddened when I buy a "new" nice guitar from someone on here and the strings are rusty and the frets are dull...it's like changing the oil in your car!

piloto117
03-03-2012, 01:46 PM
What about gauge? Does anyone believe that thinner gauges wear frets faster?

flathead
03-04-2012, 08:06 AM
What about phosphor bronze strings versus bronze strings?
Don't know if its true, but I was told the phosphor bronze strings wear out frets faster

vanguard
03-04-2012, 08:36 AM
i want to know about cobalt. sounds interesting, but seems like it would kick some nickel-fret ass.

Mike Duncan
03-04-2012, 08:41 AM
My GHS Boomers 11s destroy everything. Three and half year old 6100 fret wire is already in need of repair. My 19 year old SRV Strat needs a refret like crazy.

piloto117
03-05-2012, 12:17 PM
I guess it's basic physics. If one surface is harder that the other, during friction the surface with the softer material will wear down faster. But I'm not too sure about the gauge because on one side you might say that a heavier gauge string is harder, has more mass and more contact with the fret; but on the other hand a lighter/thinner string gauge has more "penetration". I don't know exactly how to decribe this last concept any better except that a thinner wire can cut easier than a thicker wire; like a knife or a saw.
The other factor I'd like to see discussed is the core. Your opinions on hex core vs round core?

Jazzydave
03-05-2012, 03:55 PM
I guess it's basic physics. If one surface is harder that the other, during friction the surface with the softer material will wear down faster. But I'm not too sure about the gauge because on one side you might say that a heavier gauge string is harder, has more mass and more contact with the fret; but on the other hand a lighter/thinner string gauge has more "penetration". I don't know exactly how to decribe this last concept any better except that a thinner wire can cut easier than a thicker wire; like a knife or a saw.
The other factor I'd like to see discussed is the core. Your opinions on hex core vs round core?

The core shouldn't have anything to do with it...since it's not directly contacting the fret wire.

Prerequisite
03-05-2012, 03:58 PM
Change them before they rust and your frets will last forever.

I know too many guitar players who need to hear this.

fjblair
03-05-2012, 05:08 PM
I always have too many guitars for refretting to ever be an issue ;)

slavenoid
03-05-2012, 07:54 PM
When the stainless strings first came out I used them as they definitely kept tonality longer. Ate the frets off my old Tele and LP in about 3 years. Definitely quicker wear than nickel.

gillman royce
03-06-2012, 12:25 PM
IMO... the strings that "eat" frets the fastest are the ones that get played the most.
If you play a lot you're going to wear out the frets on your guitar, the type of strings used doesn't matter.

Then you've been smart all these years and stayed away from Rotosound - especially their bass strings - guaranteed to chew up frets faster than any other brand

straycat113
03-14-2012, 02:23 AM
Jazzydave from my personal experience I am going to have to disagree with you on the bending issue. If I look at my Strat which I use basically for Rock/Blues and do a lot of bending on compared to my EBMM EVH on which I use more shred style techniques like three note per string runs, tapping and sweeping the fret wear is significantly harsher on the Strat. I am not one to sit in one or two boxes of a scale so the wear runs the length of the neck.Just my personal experience.

english_bob
03-14-2012, 04:04 AM
Blues players who play around E mostly wear out the first few and around the 12th fret.

Everything else in your post is good, but I have to take issue with this. For a guy with the name "jazzydave", you give blues players unduly short shrift. Only knowing one scale pattern in one key doesn't make you a bluesman, just a rubbish player.

Then you've been smart all these years and stayed away from Rotosound - especially their bass strings - guaranteed to chew up frets faster than any other brand

I find it hard to believe that one brand can be that much harder on your frets than another. I do recall reading a story a while back about Chris Squire of Yes- a Rickenbacker player and Rotosound endorser famous for his bright, cutting pick-and-roundwound-string bass tone- being shown a room full of Ricky basses at their factory that had been sent in for refrets because their owners had switched to roundwounds to get that tone and torn up the soft frets on their basses, which were intended to be used with flatwounds. Rickenbacker weren't best pleased :D

tonecontrol
03-14-2012, 04:14 AM
I think a lot of it is in your grip in the cowboy area and how aggressive you bend the strings in general in the upper registers..my 2 cents

Ashe
03-14-2012, 06:20 AM
steel wound strings wear down frets faster compared to nickel wound strings :) because the steel material is denser than the frets.


edit: and flatwound wears slower than normal winding (because of smaller grooves between the windings). so its safe to say that flat wound nickel strings wear down the least.

Jazzydave
03-14-2012, 07:59 AM
Jazzydave from my personal experience I am going to have to disagree with you on the bending issue. If I look at my Strat which I use basically for Rock/Blues and do a lot of bending on compared to my EBMM EVH on which I use more shred style techniques like three note per string runs, tapping and sweeping the fret wear is significantly harsher on the Strat. I am not one to sit in one or two boxes of a scale so the wear runs the length of the neck.Just my personal experience.

Everyone's experience is different, yeah? Some people are lighter players and others dig in deep. I've read that SRV's guitars needed to be refretted regularly bc he dug into them so aggressively. I'm willing to bet that a player like Eric Johnson doesn't tear them up as much since his touch seems to be lighter for the most part.

Also, doing runs and sweeps usually call for significantly less pressure than the digging in that most people do when playing traditional blues/rock. I tend to shake my chords and really get a solid grip on the neck when playing rock and blues styles...so are the frets being more eat up from the bending or just because they're being pushed harder into?

Frets get eaten up because of prolonged friction in one spot - if you're diggin' into those bends over and over, sure, you're going to see the wear just like if you were holding cowboy chords all day. Bends are usually in movement though so the pressure on the fret in one specific spot is most likely going to see the wear at the initial point of contact (prior to the bend). My point is that the wear isn't coming from the bends themselves but rather how much pressure is being put on the frets. Otherwise, your frets would be flattened out in a wider wear pattern (I've seen this as well, but rarely).

Everything else in your post is good, but I have to take issue with this. For a guy with the name "jazzydave", you give blues players unduly short shrift. Only knowing one scale pattern in one key doesn't make you a bluesman, just a rubbish player.

Whoa now, pull the horses back - I wasn't implying anything negative about blues players at all. The truth of the matter is, many traditional blues songs are in the keys of E and A, that's just a natural position for many players...which results in the frets being eat up within the first few frets and around the 12th fret to account for the octave shift when soloing.

As a professional musician and someone who buys, sells, and trades guitars quite often, of the hundreds of guitars that I've seen and had my hands on, the most common areas of wear are at those positions.

willc68
03-14-2012, 08:03 AM
IMO... the strings that "eat" frets the fastest are the ones that get played the most.
If you play a lot you're going to wear out the frets on your guitar, the type of strings used doesn't matter.

This is the most common sense post I have seen so far.

Jazzydave
03-14-2012, 08:16 AM
This is the most common sense post I have seen so far.

I agree with that...but people here aren't looking for a common sense answer, they want specifics! I say just play whatever strings sound the best to you...and again, it's amazing how much keeping those frets cleaned and polished will effect the longevity of them.