Where should I refret my guitar, and what with?


Hey all,

I just got allergy tests today that verify that I'm VERY allergic to nickel. To the point where switching to stainless steel strings is not enough, and I'm most likely going to have to (sooner or later, but may as well do it sooner) refret my 3 guitars. So I figured I'd pick brains here.

Stainless Steel vs. EVO (that's right, right?)

Is there really a sound difference? I'd like to think I have a pretty discerning ear but... who knows. If there is one thing I can't stand though, it's shrill highs. :p

And the far bigger question, where should I get it done? Ideally, the closer the better. (I'm in Winnipeg, which is about 7 hours north of Minneapolis for those of you who don't know) But I'm totally willing to mail my guitars or send them down with someone traveling or something to get a really good job done at a reasonable price. I understand that this isn't something to cheap out on, but at the same time, I'm a student, who really didn't want to have to drop hundreds per guitar so that I wouldn't be allergic to them.

Any help is appreciated!


Edit: Worth mentioning that Phoenix area can also be considered local for me as some family of mine owns a house down there that we go to a few times a year, so the guitars could easily be sent with them when they go or taken down by me at the next opportunity.
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Chris Scott

I'd keep it simple - go stainless, and find the best person that you can, as it's something best left to the most experienced tech.


SS is nice and bright too if you're into that sort of thing. And, you can use SS strings if you want to without damaging the frets


Platinum Supporting Member
Hey Echo! I typed up a pretty good overview, and my PC went nuts, and I lost everything so I'll try again to "echo" what I'd posted...

I've had 4 PRS and 1 Gibson Historic Refretted with Stainless and frets of different dimensions than came stock on the guitars. I had the work done by a local luthier (Los Angeles) who is highly regarded for his fret work but only slips in repair work for local clients now when his very tight build schedule permits. His work was superb, and he transformed these guitars with the fretwork and setup. You need to know that the skills of the person doing the work make all the difference in the world in terms of how your guitar will feel and perform.

I have never been able to hear a difference in tone related to fret composition, period, but all of mine have been solid body electics.

There is a guy on the East coast of the USA who is reputable and would be my #2 choice mainly because it would involve shipping, but this guy uses a PLEK and uses the same wire as my guy did, Jescar. His name is Phil Jacoby. It would be worth looking at some of the information on his website. I've spoken to Phil and know many who vouch for his skills. Maybe you will find something of value here: http://www.philtone.com/index.html . I found him extremely knowledgeable! Good website!

The Jescar rep is a member here, cleverly disquised as:huh....Jescar. He was a big help to me in determining for sure what wire was on my 2011 Historic and confirned that it was Jescar FW45100. Jescar is considered to be about as good as it gets, and is the only fretwire I have on any guitar, all Stainless now. The Jescar wire part numbers indicate the wire dimensions..FW45100 is .045 tall by .100 wide. Attached is a link to the Jecar wire chart, and note the shapes. That makes a difference. You can use the dimensions to find an "equivalent", like a 6150 if you know those dimensions...both of the wires below would roughly equate to that wire by dimension.

There are 3 compositions, although not all 3 are available in every wire, but most. Nickel Steel, Evo, and Stainless, in order of hardness, with Evo supposedly being closer to Stainless.

I mentioned differences in shapes. Although the dimensions are very close, these feel quite different to me, although there's a bit more to that story!


From what I've heard, there are quite a few small builders in AZ, and a very strong boutique amp "complex" in Pheonix with Redplate, Glasswerks, and I think now Quinn maybe. They and some local shops may be might be a good resource in terms of finding who has the skills and the willingness locally there.

Sorry for the ramble, hopefully something of use here and other will chime in.



Thanks big time for the idea of contacting some local shops and stuff to ask around, I'd never thought of that but it's a real good idea.

And brian's point about wear raises a good question, because my stainless strings certainly wear on my nickel frets, but will the stainless do considerably more damage to the EVO frets than they would to the Stainless ones? Cause I think if possible (if I can get some pretty close or perfect matches in size) I'd like to use the EVO stuff, but not if it's gonna wear quick with stainless strings.


Senior Member
I would go with stainless too, but for a different reason. With stainless you are all but guaranteed there is NO nickel involved. With other alloys I suppose it is possible there is trace amounts of nickel they don't tell you about, as well as if you are allergic to nickel, whose to say there isn't other metals that get to you as well?
Stainless is just that, stainless. Which means it doesn't absorb impurities easily, which I would think also means it doesn't emit impurities easily either.


Actually Nickel is IN stainless steel, it just is bound so tightly that it doesn't cause allergic reactions. :) (learn something new every day)

So I feel from an allergenic perspective the two non nickel wires are likely equal. EVO (I've done a little reading today) was actually originally created as an alloy to frame glasses for people with Nickel intolerances.

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