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How Long Do Electric Guitar Frets Last?

In this guide, we will be looking at how long guitar frets last and some of the things that you can do to help prolong their lifespan. Guitar fret wear is an inevitable part of playing the instrument, but with a few simple maintenance tips, you can keep them in good condition for as long as possible. So, whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced player looking to extend the life of your frets, read on for all the information you need!

Do Some Frets Wear Out Quicker Than The Others?

One of the most common questions when it comes to fret wear is whether or not some frets will wear out quicker than others. The answer, unfortunately, is that it can vary from guitar to guitar. However, there are a few factors that can affect how quickly your frets will show signs of wear.

Do Some Frets Wear Out Quicker Than The Others?

For instance, if you play with a lot of distortion or overdrive, you may notice that your first few frets start to show wear more quickly than the rest. This is because the extra grit and grime from your strings get deposited on these frets more often and can cause them to wear down faster. Another factor that can contribute to quick fret wear is the type of strings you use. Steel-stringed guitars are more likely to cause faster wear on the frets than nylon-stringed instruments. This is because steel strings are harder and can put more pressure on the fretboard as you play.[1]

So, while there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not some frets will wear out quicker than others, there are a few things that can affect how quickly they show signs of wear. If you’re concerned about keeping your frets in good condition for as long as possible, be sure to clean them regularly and avoid using too much distortion or overdrive in your playing.

The condition of the frets on your guitar’s neck determines how comfortable it is to play.
Every time you press a string against a fret, there is friction between them, which almost imperceptibly changes the shape of the fret and eventually wears it out. Over time, this metal-to-metal contact can cause string bounce and tuning problems. Capo’s cause the most fret wear, especially when using unwound strings.

In general, fret wear is an absolutely normal phenomenon that occurs when playing an instrument. As a guitarist, it’s important for you to know when the frets start to wear out, as well as to understand what needs to be done to fix it. Usually the question is, is it worth changing the frets, or can they still be restored or polished? Let’s delve deeper into this topic, and start, in fact, with the frets themselves.

What are guitar frets made of?

Despite the fact that fret wire is usually called “nickel-silver” there is no silver there. Typically the alloy contains 18% nickel, 80% copper, and small amounts of other metals such as zinc, lead, or cadmium. Really good fret wire contains more zinc and less copper. One of the good brands is Jescar and their nickel silver formula is 62% copper, 18% nickel and 20% zinc. This fret wire is harder than regular wire, so frets last longer.

Another option is stainless steel. Stainless steel is a difficult material to work with, but stainless steel frets last significantly longer than traditional alloy wires. But they are also much more expensive.

Many guitar makers charge double the price to replace frets with stainless steel frets, because not only does stainless steel ruin their instruments, but the process takes much longer. On the other hand, looking at the long term, this may be the ideal solution, because you may never have to change them again![2]

What sizes are the frets?

Fret wire comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. These are the width and height of the crown (crown), the size of the prong (barb) and the depth of the stem-leg (tang).

What sizes are the frets?

The crown is the most obvious part of the fret. When you play a note on a fret, you press the strings against the very top of the crown. The prong, like a series of knobs, fixes the frets in the fretboard. The width of the prong determines the width of the fret slot in the fingerboard, while the depth of the shank determines its (slot) depth. In general, how deep does the fret penetrate the fretboard.

The size and shape of each of these four elements is specially designed for different guitars and the preferences of the guitarist.

The width of the crown can vary from very thin (ultra narrow) – 0.053” to very wide (ultra jumbo) – 0.118”. The fret height ranges from short – 0.032″ to high – 0.060″. Tooth width and shank depth can vary from 0.19” to 0.040”.

Different sizes mean different uses, and this must be taken into account when selecting fret wire. For example, wider frets can produce a stronger sound, but at the same time, as they wear, the guitar’s tuning drifts a little more than thin frets. But thin frets also have their drawbacks: of course, they cannot cause such a significant “swing” of the tuning when worn, but they wear out faster than wide frets.

High frets, other things being equal, will last longer before they need to be replaced. But we wouldn’t recommend these frets for those who play hard on the strings. If you press the strings hard while playing, or use a capo, the strings will feel quite sharp when played. On the other hand, low frets wear out faster (especially when using a capo) and will need to be changed more often.

The effect of bar and bar size on the neck is quite large, so if you decide to install new frets, it is very important to use the correct size. If the teeth are too narrow and the stem is too short, then the frets will not sit well in the fingerboard. What can cause the frets to fall out when the weather changes or the appearance of fret irregularities, dead notes and string bounce. If the prong is too wide and the shank is too long, then the overlay may crack or split. Or even a vulture can lead. If this happened due to a change in frets, then in this case you will have to change them again.

To sum it up, the frets must exactly fit the fretboard in size and suit the playing style of the guitarist, otherwise there is a possibility of getting into money.[3]

Is the size of frets prolong their life?

It’s a common misconception that bigger frets will last longer. The truth is, the size of your frets has no impact on how long they’ll last. The only thing that matters is the material they’re made of. So, whether you have small or large frets, as long as they’re made of quality materials, they should last you a lifetime.

Of course, if you play harder than average, then you may need to replace your frets more often regardless of their size or material. But for most guitarists, fret size is simply a matter of preference. [4]

When it’s the time to change your frets?

The quality and size of the frets affect the clarity of the guitar sound. Therefore, by their appearance, as well as by the unpleasant rattling of the strings, one can understand that the frets should be changed. And yet, what signs indicate that the time has come to change the frets?

  1. Visual damage to the frets. Sometimes the frets can develop notches where they touch the strings, which can cause the strings to rattle. If the recesses are shallow, then grinding can be dispensed with, otherwise, only a replacement.
  2. The rattling of the strings associated with the wrong size of the frets. This may be your fault, or the fret size is not suitable for your playing style. If you feel uncomfortable while playing, try changing the frets.
  3. Protrusion of frets above the edge of the fretboard, which can lead to unwanted resonances. In addition, the strings can cling to the protruding edges when bending and suspending.
  4. The appearance of a recess under the fret on the edge of the fretboard, for which the first string can cling, which interferes with clean playing.
  5. The frets are at different levels, which causes the string to ring.
  6. Frets that are too flat, causing the strings to ring and not build. You can change the shape of the frets with a needle file, or simply install new, more suitable shapes.
  7. You often use a capo, which is the main enemy of guitar frets, as it presses the strings into them, resulting in grooves and dents.

When it’s the time to change your frets?

You should pay special attention to the fact that you should not change individual frets, but it is better to replace the entire set. Only in this case all the frets will have the same parameters and there should be no problems with the sound of the strings.

Can humidity affect the lifespan of frets?

One thing that can affect the lifespan of your frets is humidity. If you live in a humid climate, your frets are more likely to rust and corrode than if you lived in a dry climate.

Rust and corrosion can shorten the life of your frets significantly, so it’s important to take steps to protect your guitar from these elements if you live in a humid area.

Several products on the market can help you do this, including fretboard conditioners and dehumidifiers. Using these products will help prolong the life of your frets and keep them looking like new ones for longer.

Frets made out of stainless steel are less vulnerable to corrosion, but they’re still not immune to it. If you live in a particularly humid area, it’s still a good idea to take steps to protect your guitar from the elements. [5]

Are Capos Bad For Your Frets?

Capos can have an impact on the durability of your frets. This is because when you place a capo on the fretboard, it presses down on the strings and causes them to rub against the frets. This friction can eventually lead to wear and tear on the frets.

If you use a capo regularly, don’t forget to check on its condition. If they have signs of wear, you may need to have them replaced sooner than if you didn’t use a capo as often.

Are Slides Bad For Your Frets?

When guitarists play their instruments with slides, the frets wear out more quickly. The slides put a lot of strain on the guitar frets, putting them under high pressure. As was the case with capos, the frets wore down faster than usual as a result of this.

The shelf life of guitar frets is usually several years. It all depends on what material they are made of. Quality and build have a direct impact on the lifespan of the frets.

Can One String Material Wear Out Frets More Than Others?

Coated strings are often thought to be better for the longevity of a guitar’s frets. The coating on the strings protects them from dirt and oils, which can cause corrosion.

Can One String Material Wear Out Frets More Than Others?

However, some coated strings can actually be more abrasive than uncoated strings. This is because the coating can wear down the frets over time. If you use coated strings, it’s important to inspect your frets periodically to make sure they’re not showing signs of wear.

If you want to prolong the life of your frets, it’s generally best to avoid using coated strings.
Instead, opt for uncoated strings made from stainless steel or another material that won’t corrode as easily.

Is Fretting Hand Technique Important In Frets Longevity?

As was the case with capos, the way you fret the strings can also affect the lifespan of your frets. If you press down on the strings too hard, it can wear out the frets over time.

It’s important to find a balance between pressing down hard enough to get a good sound and not pressing down so hard that you damage the frets. You may need to experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.

If you’re not sure how hard to press down on the strings, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and not press down too hard. This will help ensure that your frets last as long as possible.

Are Coated Strings Bad For Your Frets?

Many people believe that coated strings, such as those manufactured by Elixir and Cleartone, have a detrimental impact on the life span of your guitar’s frets, even if they are stainless steel. This is mostly accurate. It’s due to the coating’s influence on the plain strings, which made them more rigid and demanding on the frets.

The way you play has a big impact on whether coated strings are right for you. If you don’t grip the strings too tightly, the difference in your frets will not be more obvious than if you were playing with uncoated strings. The preservative that keeps strings from rusted and decaying over time also helps to eliminate fret rust.

Can Hand Sweat Be Bad For Frets?

Your skin produces oils and sweat, which can corrode the metal on your frets over time. This is why it’s important to wipe down your fretboard after playing. A dry cotton cloth or microfiber towel works well for this.

If you don’t clean your fretboard regularly, the buildup of oils and sweat can cause your frets to wear out more quickly. In extreme cases, it can even cause the metal on the frets to break down and crumble.

Can Hand Sweat Be Bad For Frets?

To avoid this, make sure to clean your fretboard every few days with a dry cloth or microfiber towel. You should also consider using a lemon oil-based cleaner once a month or so to remove any stubborn buildup of oils and sweat.

How Many Times Can A Guitar Neck Be Refretted?

The number of times a guitar neck can be refretted depends on the type of wood it’s made from. Harder woods, like maple, can generally be refretted more times than softer woods, like mahogany.

That being said, even harder woods have their limits. If a neck is refretted too many times, the wood will start to splinter and break down. This can ultimately lead to the neck snapping in half.

For this reason, it’s generally best to avoid having your guitar’s neck refretted more than three or four times. After that, you’ll likely need to replace the neck entirely.

Does String Size Matter?

The thickness, or gauge, of your strings can have an impact on how long they last. Heavier strings, like those used for drop-tunings, are more likely to wear out your frets than lighter strings.

This is because the heavier strings put more tension on the neck of the guitar. This can cause the wood to start to bow over time. If this happens, it puts additional stress on the frets and can cause them to wear out more quickly.

If you’re using heavy strings, it’s important to check your guitar’s neck for signs of bowing regularly. You may also need to have the truss rod adjusted more frequently to compensate for the additional tension.

How To Prevent Fret Wear?

There are a few things you can do to help prevent fret wear. First, make sure you’re using the right size strings for your guitar. Heavier strings will put more stress on the neck and cause the frets to wear out more quickly.

Second, be careful not to press down too hard on the strings. Avoid pressing too hard on the frets, as this can damage them. Instead, find a balance between pressing hard enough to get a good sound and not pressing so hard that you damage the frets.

How To Prevent Fret Wear?

Finally, clean your fretboard regularly with a dry cloth or microfiber towel. This will remove any buildup of oils and sweat that can corrode the metal on the frets over time.


How do I know if my guitar needs new frets?

There are a few signs that your guitar might need new frets. First, if you notice that the frets are starting to wear down in certain spots, it’s probably time for a new set.

Second, if your guitar’s neck starts to bow, this can put additional stress on the frets and cause them to wear out more quickly.

Finally, if you notice any cracks or chips in the fretboard itself, this is another sign that it’s time for new frets.

If you’re not sure whether or not your guitar needs new frets, it’s always best to consult with a qualified guitar technician. They’ll be able to assess the condition of your fretboard and let you know if it’s time for a new set of frets.

Why do my frets wear so fast?

There are a few reasons why your frets might be wearing down more quickly than usual. First, if you’re using heavier strings, they can put additional stress on the neck and cause the frets to wear out more quickly.

Second, if you don’t clean your fretboard regularly, the buildup of oils and sweat can corrode the metal on the frets and cause them to wear down more quickly.

Finally, if you press down too hard on the strings when you’re playing, this can also damage the frets over time. Try to find a balance between pressing hard enough to get a good sound and not pressing so hard that you damage the frets.

How do you fix worn frets?

There are a few things you can do to fix worn frets. First, you can try filing down the frets with a fine-grit sandpaper. This will help to smooth out any rough spots and make the frets easier to play.

Second, you can try using a fret dressing tool to level out the frets. This is a specialized tool that’s designed to remove small amounts of metal from the frets.

Finally, if your guitar has particularly badly worn frets, you may need to have them replaced entirely. This is a job best left to a qualified guitar technician.

Useful Video: Stainless Steel Frets – Do They Make a Difference?


Electric guitar frets can last anywhere from a few months to a decade, depending on how often they are played and what type of music is being played. If you’re the owner of an electric guitar and want to keep your frets in good condition as long as possible, it’s important to be aware of the things that can damage them. By following these simple tips, you can make sure your electric guitar fretboard stays looking great and sounding even better for years to come. Have you ever replaced your electric guitar frets? What was your experience like?


  1. https://hazeguitars.com/blog/guitar-hardware-school-frets-ii-materials
  2. http://www.wiredguitarist.com/2016/07/21/nickel-vs-stainless-steel-frets/
  3. https://www.jescarguitar.com/jescar-fret-wire/
  4. https://rockguitaruniverse.com/guitar-frets-last-prevent-fret-wear/
  5. https://guvnaguitars.com/how-long-do-electric-guitar-frets-last/