How Long Do Guitar Frets Last? (Tips and Tricks to Squeeze More Life Out of Them)


The guitar is a wonderful instrument that has been popular for decades.

It’s no wonder that people are always looking to find ways of improving their sound or finding new tricks to learn.

One question that may come up when playing the guitar is how long do frets last?

It’s all about the fret material, the speed of your playing, and the style of play. Guitar frets can last anywhere from a few years to 20-30 years.

Read on for tips and tricks to squeeze more life out of your frets!

How long does it usually take for frets to wear down?

A fret dress is usually required after 15 months. Depending on the quality of the factory work, a guitar may have needed work done as soon as it rolled off the production line. Unless the frets are unusually soft, they should last for at least 2 years.

Frets are usually made of nickel silver (80% copper, 20% zinc) or stainless steel.

Nickel silver is softer than the metal used to make guitar strings and will wear faster.

This means that your frets may need dressing more often.

Stainless steel frets, on the other hand, are harder than string metals but also last longer before needing dressings.

Prestige guitars are known for using stainless steel frets, while American Deluxe series use nickel silver-plated fret wire (nickel/steel alloy).

Most other Fender models use the latter material.

How can I make my guitar’s frets last longer?

One way to ensure your frets last longer is to make sure your guitar stays in tune.

A string’s tension will pull on the fret and cause it to wear more quickly.

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your guitar in tune, consider investing in a good clip-on tuner with adjustable tuning modes or an electronic tuner that attaches directly to your guitar.

Another way to keep your frets lasting longer is by playing at lower action.

Action refers to the height of your strings above the fretboard, and it affects how easy it is for you to press down on each string when plucking or strumming.

A higher action will put more pressure on your guitar’s frets, causing them to wear faster.

Low action will allow you to press down more easily on your strings, saving the frets from unnecessary stress.

Remember, playing hard or strumming aggressively will put more pressure on the frets, which causes them to wear out faster.

Playing gently and using a light strumming motion can help prolong your guitar’s life by reducing how much stress is placed on each fret.

How do I know when my frets are worn out?

Gouges or divots directly beneath the string, and flat worn areas on the frets that may cover up to half of the fret are two common indicators that your frets require attention.

The gouges are usually found near the headstock where open chords are frequently played, and they typically appear under steel strings.

A flat worn area on the fret is usually found toward the middle of the fingerboard where bass notes are played, and they can appear under both steel or nylon strings.

Remember that these signs do not necessarily mean your frets need to be replaced immediately.

If you’re seeing these symptoms after just a couple of months of intense playing, you may not need to have your guitar’s frets replaced.

However, if these issues are appearing after just a few years of playtime, it is time for an assessment.

A visual inspection of the neck and fretboard should be done every two or three months to check for any signs that there might be something wrong with the frets.

A guitar tech can also help you determine whether your frets are worn out, and if so, how many of them need replacing.

They will be able to tell you what type of fret wire was used for the replacement job, thus helping you plan when it might be time for a new one (usually after two or three years).

Is it worth it to Refret a guitar?

The cost of a guitar’s refretting ranges from $200 to $400, and it’s well worth the investment. Especially if the guitar is costly. Although refretting cheaper guitars aren’t recommended since the process may end up costing more than you paid for the guitar in the first place.

The labor involved in the refretting process can take anywhere from 5 to 10 hours.

Guitars with bolt-on necks tend to be faster and easier to fix, while guitars that have glued or set necks (like Fender Stratocasters) are much more difficult for techs because they require separating the neck from its body, which can result in damage.

A professional who has experience refretting guitars will be able to determine whether or not the neck must be separated before beginning work on it.

If your guitar’s frets are worn out, you should definitely consider having them replaced since this makes a huge difference when playing your instrument.

However, you should make sure that the frets are actually worn out before having them replaced.

If you’re concerned about your guitar’s neck or body, it is best to have a professional take care of this for you.

When should I buy new frets?

If they have little divots or uneven wear, they may generally be leveled and dressed, but if they’re so worn and gouged out that they’re no longer effective, it’s time for a change.

Remember, a professional can help you determine whether your guitar’s frets need to be replaced.

If the frets are not completely worn out and still have some life left in them, leveling and dressing may do the trick for these as well.

You should consider having new ones installed if they’re really gouged up since this will help you play without any obstacles.

Does Refretting a guitar damage it?

The process of refretting your guitar is not as simple as changing strings, and it should not be attempted by a novice.

It requires removing the frets, cleaning up their slots, and changing or smoothing out fretboard material.

If you attempt to refret your guitar by yourself, not only will it take a lot of time and effort on your part, but you also run the risk of messing something up in the process which could damage your guitar’s neck by warping it.

If you’re certain that your guitar’s frets are worn out and need to be replaced, the best option is to let a professional do this for you.

They will be able to determine whether or not your guitar’s neck needs work done on it, and can take care of this for you as well.

Once the frets are replaced (and possibly refinished), they should last much longer than before.

Why do frets need to be crowned?

Proper fret crowning, especially on the guitar’s high frets, is critical for ensuring that your fret tops are completely level (which you need for low action) and also improves the intonation of your guitar.

A guitar’s frets need to be crowned in order for them to work properly and feel comfortable under your fingers.

Frets come out of the factory with a relatively flat crown, but most players find that these high spots can affect how they play their instrument (whether consciously or subconsciously), so many professionals choose to level and polish them before installing them on the guitar.

It is best to have your frets crowned by a professional, especially if you plan on having them leveled and polished since this can result in some damage to the fret crowns if it’s not done properly (which happens more often than not).

Which tools are used for refretting?

The process of refretting your guitar requires a few different tools to ensure that it goes smoothly.

The most important of these is the fret puller, which comes in many forms including pneumatic (similar to an impact wrench), single-end (which can be used with either one or both hands), and double-end.

You’ll also need a fret leveling file, which is used for smoothing out the frets after they have been refinished in order to ensure that they are level with each other.

You’ll also need a crowning file in order to properly round over and smooth out the edges of your guitar’s new frets.

How do I level my frets?

Leveling your new guitar’s frets is one of the most important parts of this entire process since it ensures that they’re smooth enough to play on comfortably.

It is best to have your frets leveled by a professional, though this can also be done with some DIY tools.

Many manufacturers even sell special fret files for leveling purposes which are shaped in the same way as their crowning file but on a smaller scale (typically half of that size).

You should not attempt to level your guitar’s frets on your own unless you have experience doing this, as it can easily result in damage to the fretboard or other parts of your instrument.

That being said, if you decide to do it yourself, the way you level your frets is by using a fret leveling file to smooth out the high spots on them.

This can be done by holding it at an angle of around 45 degrees and running it along the frets from side to side, just as you would with your guitar’s crowning file (but more slowly).


Read Also: My Gear Recommendations

Recent Posts