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Stainless Steel Refret Before & After - CS R7

yeatzee

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2016
Messages
52
Lots of back and forth internally about this, but I eventually decided to have my M2M R7 Les Paul refretted with Jescar SS frets, and then film before and after to see if there's any difference in tone since that's such a common question people have (and a big reason why people opt out of going stainless, nobody wants to ruin the sound of their guitar).

Steps I took to do it correctly, first I installed brand new strings before shooting the before and then installed brand new strings with the refret done so that that variable was minimized as much as possible (even came from the same batch of strings from the manufacturer). I used my Suhr PT15IR direct with an IR so that there was no chance of a mic getting bumped or something invalidating the test, and everything was kept exactly the same for both recording sessions. I even changed into the same clothes to not influence anything subconsciously for people (I've found when we see changes we sometimes "hear" changes that aren't there because our brain likes patterns).

The one thing I couldn't account for was playing exactly the same each time, days apart. I tried my best, but like I talk about in the video the human element has to be present for it to be a comparison that matters in the real world. If the change in tone is noteworthy or realistically audible it would imo need to shine through subtle changes in tone from natural pick attack / angle variations that are unavoidable as humans. Or at least for it to matter it should.


Video has timestamps, playing starts at 2:57.

Curious what you guys think, what you hear, if it matches your personal experiences, and whether you're surprised or not.

Outside of the tone, I will say I found the feel not nearly as foreign as some say it is. Basically feels like fresh polished NS frets, which imo is a good thing but I know some like that bit of friction. I've heard about them being super slippery so it's easy to overbend, didn't run into that myself but of course YMMV. Overall, ignoring the tone element, I really like the frets. The size is about perfect for an LP as well (.104 wide .047 tall).
 

Flogger

Active member
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
Messages
528
I hear a consistent difference in the high end, SS having a bit of ping. Not that it's a bad thing. Under drive all bets are off.
 

somebodyelseuk

Active member
Joined
Jun 10, 2020
Messages
338
Ya know. I think, 'knowing/thinking' there's a difference can fool the listener in to 'hearing' a difference.
I recently bought a new Ultra Strat, which I thought was fitted with SS frets (it's actually the Ultra Luxe that has them), and until I discovered they weren't SS frets, I was 'hearing something' acoustically. Then I wasn't.

I'll be honest, I'm listening 'blindfold - on the 'tube in another tab - on a laptop (not ideal), while I'm typing this, and I'm not hearing a difference.
 

thin sissy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,611
Great job documenting this! Whatever difference there is, it's small enough to be of no concern IMHO. If there is a diff, I actually think it's for the better...

Big SS fan BTW, I'll never refret with anything other again.
 

Gibsonsg

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
38
My 74 LP BB needed a refret badly so i made the decision to let it refret with SS frets, and OMG now it's really alive and plays way smoother then with the original frets.
Bending is so easy and the guitar is a bit louder unplugged to my ear but that's my opinion, it's the choice u have to make yourself.
 

yeatzee

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2016
Messages
52
Ya know. I think, 'knowing/thinking' there's a difference can fool the listener in to 'hearing' a difference.
I recently bought a new Ultra Strat, which I thought was fitted with SS frets (it's actually the Ultra Luxe that has them), and until I discovered they weren't SS frets, I was 'hearing something' acoustically. Then I wasn't.

I'll be honest, I'm listening 'blindfold - on the 'tube in another tab - on a laptop (not ideal), while I'm typing this, and I'm not hearing a difference.
For sure! I did my best to keep it apples to apples, but ultimately we as humans hear what we want/like to hear right? Still, this gives everyone a chance to really hear for themselves and come out with their own takeaways.

Great job documenting this! Whatever difference there is, it's small enough to be of no concern IMHO. If there is a diff, I actually think it's for the better...

Big SS fan BTW, I'll never refret with anything other again.
Thanks!!

My 74 LP BB needed a refret badly so i made the decision to let it refret with SS frets, and OMG now it's really alive and plays way smoother then with the original frets.
Bending is so easy and the guitar is a bit louder unplugged to my ear but that's my opinion, it's the choice u have to make yourself.
Nice! Yeah, playability is much improved imo. Big fan of the polished feel, it's not drastic (I think people overblow that) but it's nice. Like a fresh set of polished NS
 

J T

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,243
SS frets are great. Nice you did a b4 and after. You did a great job on your video.

I got a Warmoth neck on my Strat (long story) and got SS frets on that neck. Really felt smooth. No fretwear years later. I could never really tell if there was a tone difference but had no way to go back and A/B.
 

Cholo

New member
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
Messages
28
I've done this on 3 guitars.

My 74' LP Custom was originally a fretless wonder and I played it for 10 years or so with that. I was a kid and didn't know any better and it worked ok for me until I really learned how to bend. So, after wearing down flat frets for years I refretted with narrow/tall nickel silver frets and was over the moon. After another 10 years I began to notice I was having the same trouble. I didn't wear them down to being flat but enough that I was struggling. So, I began to do some research. Stainless steel was all the rage then but because my LPC had gold hardware, I didn't think that was a good look and then I discovered EVO wire. I took the plunge and refretted with narrow/tall Jescar EVO wire and I just haven't looked back. WOW does it make a difference. The bends just sing!

Another guitar I decided to take the plunge was a Zemaitis that I had ordered from Japan. Right out of the box this thing played wonderfully. Perfect set up. I really am happy I purchased this but after really putting it through its paces, I began to feel let down on 2 things. 1) the proprietary Zemaitis pickups were ceramic and too hot for me. Gave me ear fatigue. That's an easy solution, just replace wiring harness and pickups. 2) I began to notice that the frets on the guitar was really tiny. I have large fingers and I have a medium to hard touch and I noticed that I really hated dragging my fingertips on the fretboard while playing. So, after my success of the EVO wire, I decided to give Stainless a go. I knew I was gonna keep this guitar for my life and so I wasn't worried about resale value (who is actively looking for a used Zemaitis?) so I took the plunge. I again decided to go with Jescar narrow/tall fret sizes only this time in Stainless Steel. WOW again! Now this guitar is simply amazing. It turned an 8 into a 10 and every proficient guitar player that has ever played it is super complimentary. It's just easy and slick.

About 6 months ago, while perusing Craigslist, I came across an amazing deal for a Gibson Les Paul Lite. It's a thinner Les Paul that is a limited run that you can buy now and again from American Music Supply or ZZzounds. They are $1800 new and I had been jonesing for one. They only offer them in Honeyburst or Ebony. I wanted the Honeyburst but a local guy was selling an Ebony for a song. I was amazed how low it was being offered. Was only a year old AND he put in SD Pearly Gates humbuckers so I knew I was getting a deal. Bought it, took it home and ran it through its paces too. After a couple of weeks, I couldn't' help but notice that Gibson's fretwire has shrunken over the years. Yuck...no can do. So, after my last experience I decided to refret with SS and get rid of the nibs as well. I need the real estate. Even though I went back to Jescar, this time I upped the sizes to Jumbo SS. It plays so beautifully now. I can overbend all day long with zero fret buzz and it's a wonderful feeling to have that confidence in my instrument. I will say that there is a difference in the Jumbos and the narrow/tall sizes. In hindsight, I kind of wish I had stuck to narrow/tall size but it's not that dramatic. I thought the Jumbos might crowd the higher register fretboard but they don't. It's just when I slide up and down the neck, I can feel the bigger Jumbos more so than the narrow/talls but I'm not going to do anything about it. I made my choice and I'm ok with it.

The only real takeaway I have from doing this is the EVO wire sounds just a hair more like nickel than the SS do but it's so minor that once you amplify, it makes no difference.
 

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PlayBlues

Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2002
Messages
71
If there is a real difference it is so slight I don't believe many can hear it. Good video by the way.
 

Amp360

Active member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
345
I have a Music Man guitar with SS frets. It’s really smooth playing and I like it. That being said, I wouldn’t change out one of my other guitars to SS.
 

Edward

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
Messages
1,252
FWIW, I have gigged my R4 for many years and I was due for a level/crown. BUT, in my "seasoned" age and having looonged envied the silky and stellar playability of Suhrs and TAs, I decided to skip the level/crown on my beloved R4 and went whole hog: SS 6100 wire, and from a highly notable tech in LA. This was nearly last year, and gigs and practices later I still now am floored at how great this guit plays, and zero sonic difference than before. Why the heck did I ever wait this long or hesitate?!!! Clearly I already dug my R4, but with the refret it genuinely killed all desire to get a Suhr/TA, as good as these are. Just my experience and thoughts.

If you hear a difference with SS frets plugged in with a band, I guess you have very special hearing. All I notice is SS offers superb playing properties with absolutely no deficits. Best money ever spent on a guitar, bar none. BTW, I won't comment on the video because I have crummy computer speakers, but kudos to the OP for tryin to offer objectivity! :D

Glad to say goodbye nibs!!
7fYZAA9.jpg

SYaFntw.jpg


And for grins and giggles :D
324LzN1.jpg


Edward
 
Last edited:

charliechitlins

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
449
FWIW, I have gigged my R4 for many years and I was due for a level/crown. BUT, in my "seasoned" age and having looonged envied the silky and stellar playability of Suhrs and TAs, I decided to skip the level/crown on my beloved R4 and went whole hog: SS 6100 wire, and from a highly notable tech in LA. This was nearly last year, and gigs and practices later I still now am floored at how great this guit plays, and zero sonic difference than before. Why the heck did I ever wait this long or hesitate?!!! Clearly I already dug my R4, but with the refret it genuinely killed all desire to get a Suhr/TA, as good as these are. Just my experience and thoughts.

If you hear a difference with SS frets plugged in with a band, I guess you have very special hearing. All I notice is SS offers superb playing properties with absolutely no deficits. Best money ever spent on a guitar, bar none. BTW, I won't comment on the video because I have crummy computer speakers, but kudos to the OP for tryin to offer objectivity! :D

Glad to say goodbye nibs!!
7fYZAA9.jpg

SYaFntw.jpg


And for grins and giggles :D
324LzN1.jpg


Edward
Beautiful work.
 

yeatzee

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2016
Messages
52
FWIW, I have gigged my R4 for many years and I was due for a level/crown. BUT, in my "seasoned" age and having looonged envied the silky and stellar playability of Suhrs and TAs, I decided to skip the level/crown on my beloved R4 and went whole hog: SS 6100 wire, and from a highly notable tech in LA. This was nearly last year, and gigs and practices later I still now am floored at how great this guit plays, and zero sonic difference than before. Why the heck did I ever wait this long or hesitate?!!! Clearly I already dug my R4, but with the refret it genuinely killed all desire to get a Suhr/TA, as good as these are. Just my experience and thoughts.

If you hear a difference with SS frets plugged in with a band, I guess you have very special hearing. All I notice is SS offers superb playing properties with absolutely no deficits. Best money ever spent on a guitar, bar none. BTW, I won't comment on the video because I have crummy computer speakers, but kudos to the OP for tryin to offer objectivity! :D

Glad to say goodbye nibs!!
7fYZAA9.jpg

SYaFntw.jpg


And for grins and giggles :D
324LzN1.jpg


Edward
Wish mine looked that nice!
 
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