Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

790
Banjo Lovers Online


Discussion Forum

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Banjo Building, Setup, and Repair
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fret dress vs refret ?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/209471

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  04:48:38



Hi all,



 



I've developed the (typical) divot on my second fret, and it needs some professional attention. However, what's the difference between a redress and a 1-5 refret?



Also, does the neck come off the pot for such work?



Thanks.


eagleisland - Posted - 06/24/2011:  04:54:38



A re-dress means that the luthier will re-crown the frets - taking the height down a bit..  While concentrating on the divots they'll also probably reduce the height of most of the rest of the frets to ensure that they stay constant.  Bepending on how much of a hurtin' you've put on the frets, most fretted instruments can easily withstand 3 or 4 re-dressings before fret replacement really comes into play.



The 1-5 re-fret should be self explanatory - the luthier would replace those frets and those frets only.



Personally, I prefer the dressing route.


banjonz - Posted - 06/24/2011:  04:54:47


It depends on how deep the divot is. Sometimes just a redressing will work. The neck can stay on for this.

lightgauge - Posted - 06/24/2011:  05:29:35


Also, keep in mind that either may also involve some work to the string slots in the nut. As the fret height goes down in dressing or back up in a refret, the string height will need to also, to retain the same playability.

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  05:29:56


Ok, since this banjo has never needed any work, I'll assume a redress should do it. It's not too bad, but it is deep enough to cause a buzz.

Darn, I was hoping to be able to tinker with the pot a bit while the neck work was being done. :-)

Thanks!!

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  05:36:42


Nut's good. Neck angle's good. Neck bow's good. Bridge is good.
Just not that darn fret.

Good points, though!

dickinnorwich - Posted - 06/24/2011:  05:47:44



quote:


Originally posted by Grey Dog




Hi all,



 



I've developed the (typical) divot on my second fret, and it needs some professional attention. However, what's the difference between a redress and a 1-5 refret?



Also, does the neck come off the pot for such work?



Thanks.






Scott:



If you're a "groovy "kind of guy, meaning you're starting to wear grooves in your frets, it may be time to consider SS frets. We had this discussion the other day and I think the general feeling is that SS frets are superior, especially for someone who plays a lot or who pushes down hard on the strings sufficient to wear grooves.  If this is purely  a "How can I spend the least amount of money" question, then have them dressed. That's pretty obvious. But if you're thinking long term, I'd give the stainless a shot.


Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  06:37:31


This is my first banjo, purchased by by lovely wife for me as a xmas surprise. So this is my Keeper.
Would I do stainless on the second, or stainless 1-5?

I know Dean (1four5) is a huge stainless fan and would scream if I did anything else. :-)

dickinnorwich - Posted - 06/24/2011:  06:48:15



quote:


Originally posted by Grey Dog




This is my first banjo, purchased by by lovely wife for me as a xmas surprise. So this is my Keeper.

Would I do stainless on the second, or stainless 1-5?



I know Dean (1four5) is a huge stainless fan and would scream if I did anything else. :-)








Scott:



I agree. Avoiding the wrath of Dean is a major consideration in all of our lives so this leads us directly to giving serious consideration to the installation of SS frets.



But the main question is whether this is a job you are going to attempt to do in-house or farm it out? If it was me, I would replace all of the frets with SS and do it right the first time. Short of that, I'd replace the first 12 frets. Under no conditions would I just do the one fret. But it's obviously your call.


DeanT - Posted - 06/24/2011:  07:23:18


>"How can I spend the least amount of money"<


You guys are too much :) :). Actually, spending the $$$ on SS frets now would be a lot less than adding up the dressings and re-frets over the next 20 years if you don't!!! :)

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  07:37:22


Definitely farm it out.
I play, I don't really tinker beyond bridges, heads, and tailpieces.

I've been wanting to swap out a tone ring, but haven't had the guts to take a neck off. Ever. :-)
As an engineer, I don't fear putting it back together, I fear the endless tinkering that will ensue once I really get going!

Any sound differences with the SS frets? Feel the same?
I have the feeling that my primary luthier will be against the SS frets so much, that he will refuse to do them. Hmmmm.

lightgauge - Posted - 06/24/2011:  07:51:33


Scott,
John Boulding-Banjophobic--has written several posts about the SS frets and apparently has installed them on quite a few banjos. A search on his topics might bring up something or a message directly to him could bring some info. I remember some thought the sound was a little different and some did not---usual Banjo answers. John is very basic in his thinking and not a lot of bull or speculation.

dickinnorwich - Posted - 06/24/2011:  08:30:38



quote:


Originally posted by Grey Dog




Definitely farm it out.

I play, I don't really tinker beyond bridges, heads, and tailpieces.



I've been wanting to swap out a tone ring, but haven't had the guts to take a neck off. Ever. :-)

As an engineer, I don't fear putting it back together, I fear the endless tinkering that will ensue once I really get going!



Any sound differences with the SS frets? Feel the same?

I have the feeling that my primary luthier will be against the SS frets so much, that he will refuse to do them. Hmmmm.






"I have the feeling that my primary luthier will be against the SS frets so much, that he will refuse to do them."



Scott:



Then I would check with your primary luthier immediately . If he refuses to install them, then the major thrust of this discussion is moot.



 


chief3 - Posted - 06/24/2011:  08:33:38


"Any sound differences with the SS frets? Feel the same?
I have the feeling that my primary luthier will be against the SS frets so much, that he will refuse to do them. Hmmmm."


A nationally recognized luthier for professional banjo players advised me not to use SS frets as it would have an affect on the tone of the instrument and since I absolutely trust his opinion and I like the tone of my banjo I decided not to go SS and instead opted for what I already had even though I may have to refret sooner down the road. I did not want to end up "fretting" and refret my refret. ;)

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/24/2011:  08:48:55



Dressing Frets can be a temporary fix and is an option for someone on a budget. My advice to customers is this, if the divots/wear isn't impacting the playability or tone of the banjo, then its really a cosmetic repair. But if you find that the wear is having negative impacts on your picking and or the banjos tone, then make the choice; new fret or re-crown.



Yes you can re-crown multiple times. But usually you are removing perfectly good wire, along with the worn spots. So after a few re-crowns, the frets will need replacing anyway. So my advice to a customer is to only re-crown a couple times at most (depending on how fast they wear, maybe only once). There's also the option of partial re-fretting, to replace the ones that get the most abuse, which is typically frets 1-7 and 9-12. Thats a better option than removing  the mass from perfectly good adjacent frets in a re-crowning job. In the end, you have to look at your budget at the time and how much you wear the frets. For some players, an occasional re-crowning is a good idea for them and their banjo. For others, it can be a waste of money if the real fix is new frets. Am honest, competent, Luthier will advise you which option is the best for you.


Grey Dog - Posted - 06/24/2011:  10:08:21


This is my primary player: I don't hold back on taking the best care of this one.

Is 'dressing' different that 're-crowning'?
(Wow, am I opening the door to many puns...)

DeanT - Posted - 06/24/2011:  10:49:28


I noticed no tone difference whatsoever with SS frets. That's actual experience on two banjos (daily player and gig banjo). I have not noticed any difference in string wear. And on the one banjo I refreted myself, I found the SS wire was not nearly as tough to work with as the myths and speculation I read about here. On my Calico, I took the neck off and brought it to my luthier for the refret, and he thanked me for doing so. It's really no big deal. Having worn out frets being a major road block and total pain in the a$$, I'll never own a banjo with soft frets again. As far as fret dressing, when I told my luthier that it took me about 2 years get the frets in the condition they were in, he told me that recrowning would be a waste of money and only last about 6 months.

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/27/2011:  18:07:40


Well, as a bonus thing to deal with: I'm finding there to be a certain hassle associated with Deering's frets being glued in. Do any other makers do this? It just doesn't make sense to me.



I just want to play my banjo....And not have to ship it back to CA for what should be simple fretwork for a local luthier. ???

DeanT - Posted - 06/27/2011:  19:04:43


You sound like you are feeling like I was feeling. Totally pissed that companies used soft a$$ frets on high $,$$$ banjos, and just wanting the freeking job done so you can get back to playing it, facing luthiers that know less about SS frets than you do, myths and speculation flying all over the place on line regarding them, and then the $$$ to get the job done, and even worse is the banjo down time, especially if you are gigging with it and need it done yesterday.

Yes Deering does glue the fret in on some higher end models. It's not really a hassle, it's done to prevent chipping the fretboard upon removal. The frets are glued in on my Calico. The luthier just heats them and they come right right out with no slot damage. My luthier didn't act like is was any big deal, and had no trouble with it. I quess I feel fortunate that I have a good compitent educated luthier in my town. In fact when I brought my Calico neck in, he was working on a SS fret job on an electric guitar. He even admited it was the future, and getting popular in the guitar world. I thought it was going to cost a fortune, but he only charged me $150. hen I read negitivity or horror stories here, I can't help but wonder how much some luthers are operating in the dark ages, or from heresay, or even a fear of the unknown... or maybe even the fact that SS frets don't generate return business. BTW, Deering is coming around a little. According to the Deering Discussion thread, they now offer SS frets on their factory banjos for an additional $85. Money well spent, but me personally, I think they should be standard when one spends so much for their pride and joys. The difference in materials is only a buck or two.


Edited by - DeanT on 06/27/2011 19:20:15

Hotrodtruck - Posted - 06/28/2011:  17:16:35



I have noticed no change in my banjo sound due to the stainless steel frets. Tweaking your setup after a fret job will make a difference though.



Mike


Grey Dog - Posted - 06/28/2011:  17:23:42


Well, I've learned the following:
1) A fret dressing wears down the frets, in general.
2) A refret wears down the fretboard.
...So overall, something will have to give. I've never had a dressing done, so I probably have room to do one properly before a refret.
3) I still don't know if a dressing and a recrowning is the same thing, but I think that a fret dressing includes a few steps and recrowning is one of those steps.
4) Every luthier that I talked to (4 of them, and a few more to go) says it changes the tone. The Evo Gold frets are highly regarded.
5) It's best to have a backup banjo for when these times come upon you as a surprise, and no quick fix is on the horizon!!

Still workin'!

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/29/2011:  08:27:41






Originally posted by Grey Dog





Well, I've learned the following:

1) A fret dressing wears down the frets, in general.

2) A refret wears down the fretboard.

...So overall, something will have to give. I've never had a dressing done, so I probably have room to do one properly before a refret.

3) I still don't know if a dressing and a recrowning is the same thing, but I think that a fret dressing includes a few steps and recrowning is one of those steps.

4) Every luthier that I talked to (4 of them, and a few more to go) says it changes the tone. The Evo Gold frets are highly regarded.

5) It's best to have a backup banjo for when these times come upon you as a surprise, and no quick fix is on the horizon!!



Still workin'!








 



You've got your info correct except for item number 2. Refretting does not  'wear the fingerboard'. If the fingerboard has some issues like warpage or sever wear, then thats a separate issue. It also involves a different process to correct and has nothing to do with the frets themselves.



On item number 3, I dont use the term 'dressing' and 're-crowning' as the same term. Some repair folks may interchange the two but I dont. "Dressing'  for my customers means I will clean and polish the frets only. Re-crowning involves flattening the tops of the frets to 'level' them and then 're-crowning' is the process of making the fret tops rounded over again. So the cost of just a 'dressing' is less than the cost of 're-crowning' because the latter job involves two jobs, really. But its just semantics and other luthiers Im sure interchange the two phrases.



Im also in the camp that says S.S wire and EVO  can and do cause tonal changes, depending on the banjo and its set-up and type of woods. Its been pretty well known how these wires affect other instruments like guitar, and the banjo is no different. Will every banjo be affected, tonally, by using S.S or EVO ? Well of course not. Will there never be a change in tone on any banjo that uses these wires? No, of course not.



If you are making a decision about such things you should do what you are already doing, which is to talk to reputable luthiers who have years of experience with this and who have used S.S and EVO. Talk to players also. Once you have a consensus that you can go with, make your decision.  Both of these wires is excellent but so is NS wire. There is no wire that is  'best' for every player and every situation. Thats why there are choices. wink






 



Edited by - Banjophobic on 06/29/2011 08:30:04

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/29/2011:  10:14:30


Thanks.

I thought it was just so simple of a thing: wore out fret #2. And I expected to have that banjo back up and running in a few days. Weeks later, I'm still researching a fix and it may take over a month to find someone. Whew!!

This has certainly cured my urge to tinker with things. I have respected luthiers to the utmost in the past, but this adventure has pushed it over the top.

Plus, the banjo in question has my absolute favorite neck in terms of look and feel. So the thought of altering it in any way makes me shudder.

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/29/2011:  12:29:33



Im not clear why fixing a divot on one fret should be such a challenge. This is a very easy fix for any repair person. Again I'll ask this: is the divot affecting the playability of this banjo enough to bother you in some way? If not, dont even worry about it until it does. NS fret wire is supposed to wear. You can always ship the neck to a luthier  and have it repaired or ship the neck to me or any of the other repair persons on this forum. smiley


DeanT - Posted - 06/29/2011:  13:57:25


I'm with Hotrodtruck, when I say I noticed no tone difference with my two banjos after SS wire was installed. However, it is quite possible that there was a change, but if so, it was so small it was undetectable to me. If anything, it was for the better because my banjos are crisper than ever, but I would attribute that to the new strings and fresh set up after re-installing the neck. I would hope that maybe there is a BHO member who has experienced a SS tone change that could speak up. Even if there is a tone difference, it's so small, that something like news strings, head tension, bridge selection, tailpiece adjustments etc would totally overide it.


Edited by - DeanT on 06/29/2011 13:58:34

Grey Dog - Posted - 06/30/2011:  03:43:10


Yes, the divot is significant enough to buzz constantly, in a very obvious and unplayable manner.

Dean: All luthiers said it changes the sound, but not all said it was bad at all. (Thanks for making me clarify that, it's very important). Many commented that it made the sound brighter. Some want it, some don't. Given that this is a maple banjo in question, I figured I am already bright enough. :-)

I have a few shops in my area, but I wouldn't trust them to fix a toaster. Many an instrument has been damaged by my local shops. It's a college town, so most are: 1) college students feeling cool about working in a guitar shop 2) fixing other college student's $100 guitars and 3) have no idea how to treat a banjo. It's very sad. Even my teacher agreed that the pickin's are thin for repairs up here.

Any luthier's looking to relocate???

DeanT - Posted - 06/30/2011:  07:21:57


Both my banjos are maple :). I like John's idea, take the neck off and ship it to one of the reputable luthiers here on the BHO. That would also help document the experience, and provide more future actual experience, from their prospective and yours. Then you can help calm down and reasure the next guy who finds himself in this "rut".

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/30/2011:  12:39:43



Its also much cheaper and safer to ship the neck, than the whole banjo.FYI....wink


Grey Dog - Posted - 07/01/2011:  10:55:12


My luthier over in Old Forge, NY wants to have a crack at it. So it looks like a road trip for me in the semi-near future. I'll report back!

JLB - Posted - 07/01/2011:  14:41:01



My banjo had a buzzing issue some time ago and I took it to the local stringed instrument emporium and they dressed the frets. Afterwards the frets that were dressed were flat on top. Is it necessary to re-crown them. The rest of them have a radius on top. Is leaving them flat common?



 



 



 



edited so a normal person could understand it.



Edited by - JLB on 07/01/2011 14:43:25

Grey Dog - Posted - 08/07/2011:  06:39:13


Al Worthen over in Old Forge gave it a workout: Gently filed down frets 1-4 and it sounds much better. He was very conservative and started with only the 3rd fret, but it required the expansion.

So I lost some fret life, but my buzz is gone. His diagnosis: My "3rd string only" 2nd fret divot was low, and allowed that string to contact the 3rd and 4th frets for buzz. Especially with a capo.

Nothing that an awesome luthier with a file can't fix. But I was unable to do such magic.

Banjo restored!!

Grey Dog - Posted - 08/07/2011:  06:40:42



quote:


Originally posted by JLB


My banjo had a buzzing issue some time ago and I took it to the local stringed instrument emporium and they dressed the frets. Afterwards the frets that were dressed were flat on top. Is it necessary to re-crown them. The rest of them have a radius on top. Is leaving them flat common?



edited so a normal person could understand it.






 



Al re-crowned after each iteration, so I would say it's required.



I've never met one of these "normal" people you speak of...    :-)


Helix - Posted - 08/07/2011:  07:04:40


I will wrestle you for food, my food not yours, I'm glad to hear how the best advice always comes from experience..

Grey Dog - Posted - 08/07/2011:  12:35:08


Absolutely: Lack of experience is why *I* didn't attempt anything. I was seeking the experienced.

David Cunningham - Posted - 08/07/2011:  18:44:58



I flattened and crowned my old worn frets when I bought my first banjo last year. Since then I replaced the first nine.  This guy in the photo played it yesterday and said it plays and sounds good.  Now I'm glad I bought the tools and did it myself.



 





Edited by - David Cunningham on 08/07/2011 18:48:30

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.0625