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Guitar Frets Repairs and Replacements

Guitar Frets Repairs and Replacements

Posted By Admin | December 4, 2023

Worn out Fret – My guitar frets have small groves and seems worn off, can these be repaired or do I need new frets?

This is a common question put to us. Over time with playing your steel string acoustic or electric frets will develop small grooves or divots or get worn in certain sections (mostly between frets 1-5). This causes the top of the fret to become uneven and flattened causing string buzzing and intonation issues. A guitar can play perfectly well for a while with this wear but eventually, it needs to be addressed. We can usually ‘dress’ the frets to remove divots and irregularities and re-crown them to bring back to original shape. It is important to dress all of the frets so as to not have uneven frets. Eventually, after a couple of fret dressings, they will need to be replaced – either a full or partial re-fret.

What is a fret dress? 

Fret dress is a process of leveling frets with a flat, straight abrasive surface removing high spots on the frets that will lead to eliminating or reducing string buzzing.

Once the frets are levelled they then are re-crowned using a fret crowning file and then polished to a mirror-smooth surface. New guitars can benefit from a fret dress, as some may have uneven frets. Also changes in humidity and temperature can lead to uneven frets that cause buzzing and intonation issues. A fret dress can also be used to correct minor defects in a guitar neck.

Refretting a guitar consists of replacing worn-out frets with newer ones.

Over many years of playing a guitar the frets especially on steel strings and electric guitars get damaged and have to be replaced.

It can be an expensive process but this is never the time to try and save money on a someone quoting you a price that is too good to be true as this job involves care and experience. Sometimes it would also involve levelling of the fretboard due to changes that happen to the fretboard wood due to humidity and temperature changes.

A professional guitar tech or luthier will remove the old frets and replace them carefully.

Refrets are a procedure completely normal for even vintage guitars or guitars where the frets have been worn out due play wear. If you are not familiar with the process do not attempt to do it yourself as this should be done by an experienced guitar tech. 

What are the noticeable signs to know that your guitar needs a refret rather than a redress

– When several fret dressings have lead to no more headroom to lower and level the frets anymore.

– Deep groves on the frets are noticed that cause poor intonation and buzzing.

– Whilst bending strings it is no longer as comfortable.

– When you press specific notes up and down the fretboard, you’ll get twanging harsh sounds.

– Sliding notes up and down the fretboard feels harder to play and uneven on the fingers.

– The overall sound of your guitar loses richness because the strings pivot unevenly on different frets or parts of the fret.

– Overall, the playing experience is just not as comfortable, and harder to play chords,; mostly barre chords don’t sound clean and in tune.

What materials are best for new frets?

There are a number of factors that influence the sound and feel of fret wire. From the width, to the size and shape of the crown (the top part that we actually place our fingers on), or the material.

EVO Gold: This are a more modern addition to fret materials. There are somewhere in between nickel silver and stainless steel fret wires. It uses an alloy of copper and tin. They are also more expensive and it worth looking at if you tend to play a lot. The also look beautiful when polished. It now seems that Jesscar has stopped manufacturing EVO Gold frets due to constraints to source a particular raw material. However, STEWART MAC gold fret can be used as an alternative.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is the sturdy, long-lasting option of the three. Adjusting them takes forever but they stay as good as new, shiny and slippery as the first day. That said, they work well on a dull sounding guitar and they then to provide a very bright and tinny tone.

Nickel Silver: It will deliver the warmest tone, the most sustain, and is not as slippery as stainless steel. It still is the industry standard by far.

Contact Leroy at Intune Instruments Guitar Repairs and Restoration, UAE for Guitar Repairs on +971 50 3950482 or email us at