fret wears affect on tone

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by donthasslethehoff, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. donthasslethehoff

    donthasslethehoff Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    hey folks, I have a 1990 Gibson es347. i'm the original owner. It has the circuit board bill Lawrence pickups in it....all original.

    over the last few years, it just doesn't sound as nice to me as it used to. And certainly the frets have gotten pretty well worn, and flattened out, I have to keep the action pretty high to avoid fretting out on bends.

    I suppose i'd say its always been a pretty bright sounding guitar...currently have a drz antidote and 1x12 cab with a scumback h75.

    I guess my question is....when frets get worn out pretty really flattened out, would this account for a more of a thin-ness in tone that I seem to always hear now? just seems off.

    I know I need to get a refrett, but was just wondering what affect on tone you guys generally hear....when you have a guitar with fairly worn frets?
  2. ieso

    ieso Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    Central MA
    This is fret sizzle. On some guitars it is desirable and on others it is not

    What's going on is a attenuation of the fundamentals and accentuation of harmonics. On some guitars it works like a charm and something to be aimed for with a setup and others it takes out some of the 'beef' -- in your situation the fret wear is probably not up and down the fretboard so you're getting a more solid sound from some frets and a thinner sound from others, creating an uneven instrument.

    Part of it can be the greater surface contact on the frets (the crown is worn down and creating a wider surface area) but I suspect the real issue is the string hitting more of the next higher fret. You can get a grind and polish and/or larger strings and/or slightly higher action to get rid of it
  3. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Member

    Jul 6, 2008
    Yes, fret wear can have a big impact on tone. Problem is, it develops so gradually that most people don't realize it. Then are amazed how much better it plays and sounds after having the frets leveled and re-crowned.

    It's not just the string hitting adjacent frets, strings will buzz on flattened frets.
  4. 59Bassman

    59Bassman Plank Cranker Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2004
    I had my (damn) 20 year old PRS refretted a couple years ago and could not believe how much better it sounded when I got it back. I had noticed some odd fret sizzle and tracked it down to the worn spots on the G, B, and E strings between the 3rd and 9th frets. Much improved now.

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