Stainless Steel vs Nickel Silver

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by macmax77, May 7, 2017.


  1. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    I would love for you to try out my Firebird.
     
  2. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Let me know where you’re at, I travel a lot. .
     
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  3. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm in the camp with those that share that it takes little more, perhaps no more, effort to do/work on stainless than nickel frets.... In fact, I was among the first of those bringing it to the attention of those seeking the info.

    I still remember the fire storm of nasty emails from guys that seemed like they were reveling in the excuse of cost and difficulty and jacking the price way up.

    Fact is, the difference in the actual cost of the wire to do one neck is less than 2.00 .. that's two bux... and that's if you're only buying a couple of feet to do one neck... I, like most professionals, will buy several "pounds" (that's how it's sold in bulk) and that way the 2 bux drops to insignificance.

    As for "it's harder than Nickel Silver.." well Duh.. that's why you want the stuff... but .. the stainless steel alloy used in fret wire is substantially different than the Stainless in your Henckels knives, in your CuisineArt cookware, and the stainless chrome on your '69 Mustang GT..

    The stainless in the frets would NEVER do for any of such applications, it's just too soft, as it's supposed to be...

    as for "it's harder on my tools".. that's bull unless "you're" using cheep tools... <if someone is using that excuse they're inferring they are using inexpensive junk tools, so unless ya want such junk used on your guitar, turn around and walk out... simple as that.

    The cost differential between the two is so insignificant that I do not increase the price for fret work on stainless.. unless it's an "outsourced" neck, like Warmoth, USACG, etc and THEY jack the cost up, typically around 50 bux.. that gets passed on to "you" ..

    as for difficulty... for some, it's insignificant.. the difference being much like that encountered if ya mow your grass every week, and one week ya let it slide for a day or two.. the grass is higher, thus taking more effort, but it being so subtle it's goes unnoticed unless you're a chronic whiner, crying about every little variance in a tiresome life of "quiet desperation"or perhaps not so quiet desperation.. . Just shut up and do it... doing so takes less effort than crying about it.. It also reduces the possibility of your, the tech in this case, cultivating any negative reenforcement in the customer.. as that accumulates, it's THAt that compels one to find another less whiney tech...

    Difference in the sound... I have participated in a number of real actual blind tests... where really fine guitarists, guys that honestly wanted to know and didn't bring a cack-load of prejudices to the "table" would sit, back to the guitarist.. and listen to guitars with both types of frets and try to identify which was which...

    Never once did anyone ever get anything resembling consistency.. never... why don't you guys try it... but, if ya do, please leave your prejudices "at the farm." Ya see.. actually knowing how any factor may pertain to your personal likes and dislikes beats the speculation so prolific in the forums, every time.. and the nice thing.. you can actually make an A/B comparison so if you DO hear a difference you can determine if that difference is significant enough to make ya wanna continue to enjoy the "luxury" of getting your number 1 refretted at infuriatingly regular intervals.

    Remember, it's much easier to fool people than it is to convince 'em they have been fooled....

    Ron Kirn
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  4. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    I not only agree 100% with this, but I have had any guitar which needed re-fretting done in SS frets. Some now come as standard equipment with them, (Vigier).

    I'm 69, and wouldn't go back to nickel silver frets for any reason. I like to try new things when they come out, if I'm interested. After first trying SS frets in 2011, I had all of my other guitars re-fretted with them. Wearing out frets is so 20th century, really. :)
     
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  5. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

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    I don't think I hear any real difference. Whenever I have a guitar refretted I only want to do it once - I go stainless. There IS a major difference in FEEL. The stainless is a lot slicker and smoother. It can actually be a little disconcerting at first - it almost feels like walking on ice; every note and chord seems like its going to bend WAY easier than you want it to at first. Once you play it for a week or so - you're fine, and you'll never go back.
     
  6. DiPa

    DiPa Member

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    SS, i needed a fret job done, went with SS and love it better, any other future fret jobs will definitely go with SS, I hear a difference, its pleasant.
     
  7. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Supporting Member

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    You, the vintage tone expert, prefers SS frets??? Say it ain't so! :D
     
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  8. DiPa

    DiPa Member

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    Lol You know the one I did in ss does sound great but I only have one in ss. It’s like which ice cream flavor is best, and so the responses are all over the map but I do like my one guitar with ss. I know about the vintage thing and yes it does conflict in my head. I dunno these things about tone are always subjective anywhere
     
  9. trap

    trap Supporting Member

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    I’d like to see a list of pro players that use- prefer SS frets.
    Pro as in well known , recorded a lot, touring, known for great tone.
    Anybody?
     
  10. MkIII Renegade

    MkIII Renegade Member

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    I say there is. I can notice a bit more brightness for sure with SS frets vs a very similar guitar with nickel. And I'm too cheap/lazy to change frets. I've only had it done once in my entire life. Since then, I keep enough guitars to rotate them and minimize wear. :D Any future refrets for me are likely to be SS.
     
  11. football

    football Supporting Member

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    Great thread. Have no SS fret guitars at the moment, but would like to give it a whirl at some point. Appreciate everyone giving their experiences with stainless.
     
  12. mikeller

    mikeller Member

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    John Petrucci for certain.
     
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  13. Axe Arsenal

    Axe Arsenal Member

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    I don't know if the stainles steel frets have anything to do with it, but my guitars with them are my brightest sounding...
     
  14. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    Pete Thorn, John Petrucci, and Guthrie Govan come to mind. All have stainless on their signature instruments.

    With most artists there is no way to really know. I'd wager many have a mix of both, and appreciate what each brings to the table.

    In the grand scheme of things I'm sure nickel is still far more common, for sure. Hard to ignore the millions and millions of guitars already out there with it, produced over the last 70 years, in tandem with the rise of electric guitar-centric music.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  15. Fuzzr

    Fuzzr Supporting Member

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    I had a ‘61 reissue SG that had SS frets on it, couldn’t figure out why it had a weird twangy/zing type tone unplugged. It wasn’t noticeable at amp volumes, but I couldn’t get on with it. Later, after talking with the guy I bought it from, he told me about the SS frets. I’ve stayed clear of them ever since. I agree they are more durable, for sure.
     
  16. Mad Wombat

    Mad Wombat Member

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    Given the choice, I'd go with stainless. I have only one guitar with SS frets (unless whatever PRS uses is SS - seems to be lasting a long time), and I don't notice any problem with the sound of it. It may sound different, but I can't tell. If there is a difference, it isn't a bad one.
    The longevity and easy bending make it worthwhile.
     
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  17. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    The first guitar I refretted with SS, I noticed there was more "snappiness" to the notes. I got used to it quickly, and now if I switch back and forth between an SS guitar and nickel, I don't even notice it.

    The very act of refretting a guitar can change the sound simply by way of how the frets are installed. SS usually gets installed with CA glue, and that fills the slot. Once dry the glue is rock hard and transfers vibration better than no or PVC glue. Erlewine has mentioned how he uses hide or fish glue on vintage instruments because it dries rock hard like CA glue.
    I say use whatever makes you happy, but IMO the feel and endless life of SS make up for any perceived negatives.
     
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  18. kimock

    kimock Member

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    As opposed to well known players using conventional wire?
    That’d be a relatively short list.
    SS has been around for a while, since the 80’s at least, but there was never a lot of traction at name-recognition level.
     
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  19. trap

    trap Supporting Member

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    Yeah I would think so also. If one of the players particularly noted for their great tone say, Robbin Ford or Landau , Carlton Jim Weider, Splatt , or maybe.....
    Kimock, came out and said “man SS is the best no matter what”, then that would be a major endorsement in my eyes. It can’t just be because it’s convenient. It has to sound good too!
    When time comes to re fret my Tyler it’s nickel silver. I’m not taking chances!
     
  20. kimock

    kimock Member

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    It’s not the kind of thing a recommendation would sway me on, I’d need my own reasons to refret any guitar.
    That being said, I’ve tried SS for my own reasons and abandoned it immediately for my own reasons.

    No one, not a single person, and certainly no professional guitarist has ever said “Hey Steve, you really need these, they’re better.” to my face.
    It’s very popular internet fretwire tho, gotta admit.
     
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