Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Fret groves

I have a Martin HD28e that is 1 1/2 years old. I was changing the strings last night when I noticed small groves starting to develop on frets 1,2, and 3 under the 1st and 2nd strings. I’m thinking the frets should hold up longer than just a couple of years. I practice some during the week and then play at couple of songs at church on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, so that not a huge amount of playing to cause wear, in my opinion.,…
Could this wear be due to poor finger placement or griping too tight on the chords. Any thoughts?


That’s normal. A good luthier should be able to dress the frets at this point to avoid having to have it refretted yet. Normal playing will cause it to wear like that though- you aren’t messing it up :slight_smile:


It just means you’ve been enjoying your instrument. Kudos to you!

If it’s causing any problems, then I second Luke’s advice to have them dressed. Otherwise carry on.

My Twanger is already showing some fret wear. Problem is, the 3rd fret has uneven wear such that it makes bending the 3rd string feel gritty. That’s the kind of thing a good fret dressing will cure.

If and when it comes time to replace some frets, I’m seriously considering stainless steel frets. They cost more to install, but they last WAY longer.


Thanks for the input… I will carry on! Love making music - it soothes the soul.


SS Frets are really hard to cut/file and special tools are required. I refretted my Fender about 6 or 7 years ago and fitted SS frets I’ve played the Fender long & hard every day since. Not a bit of wear.

I used a Dremel tool with a diamond blade to cut the fret wires to length… Regular pinching pliers just broke. Used a diamond file to take off the rough edges and the Dremel with a polishing pad to smooth the edges. Regular fret files just can’t cut through SS. It took me about 6 hours to replace all 22 frets. Rubber mallet to tap in the frets. This was the first time I ever tried this and it went fairly well. I wasn’t able to level the frets but I made sure I cleaned out all the fret channels on the finger board. Local Luthiers were not willing to carry out the repairs so I ended up doing the job myself. YouTube videos provided adequate guidance


A couple years having some fret wear is not abnormal. I wore some out to the point of replacing them on a guitar that was used mainly for plugging-in and it only took 4 or 5 years.

I have started doing partial re-frets with stainless. My “normal” now is this… a new guitar will get a level and dressing of the frets if needed. When the lower frets start to wear, I might re-level and dress a time or two, but before it gets too low, I replace the lower frets with SS. The reason I don’t wait is that as your lower frets get low, when you level them, it extends further and further into the unworn frets. I think I have done anywhere from 9 to 12 frets. Like Archie, I have yet to need to do anything to my stainless frets. After years, they show just a tiny bit of wear. Some people hear a difference with the SS. I think I can, but it is pretty subtle.