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Old 07-12-2009, 03:24 PM   #1
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String gauge - Fret wear

What effect does string gauge have on fret wear?

This is something I've never really looked into before, but I'm trying to learn more about now.

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Old 07-12-2009, 05:49 PM   #2
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I suspect that what really matters is the abrasiveness of the strings, more than the guage. Type of string, material, coating, etc. The acidity of your fingers probably makes a difference, too, not to mention the humidity.

There's a way to find out, however.

I'd suggest you experiment with a few dozen identical guitars, all strung with different types of strings and several guages in each type. Play each regularly and record the playing time on each. Use a micrometer to measure the fret wear periodically. In a few years, maybe a decade, you should be able to tell how many millimeters of fret wear per hour of playing for each type of string.

Publish your results in Guitar Player. I'll be looking forward to the article.
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:56 PM   #3
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That's a question that I don't think I have ever heard before. The only thing I can think of is that the amount of pressure you apply with your fingers may be a factor; it would stand to reason that the harder you press the strings against the frets, the more wear. If heavier strings cause the player to press harder, then they may cause more wear, indirectly. I would also postulate that a heavy handed (fretting hand) player, like a 3 fingered Fred Flintstone rank amateur, for example, may wear his frets out faster than a pro player with a light touch.... no wonder my frets have so much wear.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:19 PM   #4
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I'd suspect that playing with a lot of vibrato and string bends would also cause more rubbing and wear.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:24 PM   #5
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I know that on basses round wound strings cause much more fret wear than flat wounds. On guitars, I don't know.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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I have noticed that there seems to be more fretware on guitars with larger gauges due to the larger windings that are on heavier strings. The windings almost produce a cutting action on the frets. Ive seen many a guitar where you can see the winding indentions on the fret itself. Now of course when you calculate all the variables that were mentioned above like bending and heavy handedness its hard to postulate how much of an increase in wear the larger windings cause. I must also note that most of the fretware I see on guitars I come into contact is always worse on the bass/heavier gauges side of the fretboard.
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:49 PM   #7
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Okay, some hilarious and also interesting responses here so far.

I was thinking maybe thinner strings would tend to cut into the frets more than thicker gauges. Hmm.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forged by Fire View Post
I have noticed that there seems to be more fretware on guitars with larger gauges due to the larger windings that are on heavier strings. The windings almost produce a cutting action on the frets. Ive seen many a guitar where you can see the winding indentions on the fret itself. Now of course when you calculate all the variables that were mentioned above like bending and heavy handedness its hard to postulate how much of an increase in wear the larger windings cause. I must also note that most of the fretware I see on guitars I come into contact is always worse on the bass/heavier gauges side of the fretboard.



On all of my guitars the fretwear has started out where the thinnest strings are at.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:10 PM   #9
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On all of my guitars the fretwear has started out where the thinnest strings are at.
Same here. I'm just not sure how much of it has to do with me maybe playing on those strings more vs. it being that it's the thinner strings causing more wear than the thicker.

Lets say you were wanting to cut down a tree with a guitar string...First, you'd probably be an idiot..but that aside, would the thicker string cut more or the thinner string? maybe the same principle as with a knife..obviously a broader surface won't cut as well. but of course there's the windings...hmm.

Flat wounds were mentioned. I actually tired some flat wounds recently. I really liked them. Great tone and feel, zero string noise. I just wish they would last longer. If only Elixir would coat some flat wounds....I just might be in love with those.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:59 PM   #10
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Heh, coated strings never really worked for me.

When I used to use elixers I would shred the coating in about a week. But that was back when I was a newbie, and playing everyday, and really grinding the strings into the fretboard.

But, I also sweat alot when I play. So, who knows, maybe it was my BC, or my technique. I just know I wasnt satisfied.


The thing is, cutting a tree down with a string, and playing guitar cause 2 different motions.And the direction of the movement of the winding would make all the difference I think.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:48 AM   #11
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Same here. I'm just not sure how much of it has to do with me maybe playing on those strings more vs. it being that it's the thinner strings causing more wear than the thicker.

Lets say you were wanting to cut down a tree with a guitar string...First, you'd probably be an idiot..but that aside, would the thicker string cut more or the thinner string? maybe the same principle as with a knife..obviously a broader surface won't cut as well. but of course there's the windings...hmm.

Flat wounds were mentioned. I actually tired some flat wounds recently. I really liked them. Great tone and feel, zero string noise. I just wish they would last longer. If only Elixir would coat some flat wounds....I just might be in love with those.
Well, pressure is the force/area, so if you have the smaller string [smaller surface area touching the fret], you're going to have a higher pressure.
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:40 AM   #12
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I like my heavy strings. If that means fret work every several years, so be it.

The worst thing for fret wear is a cheap capo. You might as well take an angle grinder to your guitar.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:37 AM   #13
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on the other hand, larger strings equals more tension, more force required to play them, and there is also the fact that they would vibrate with more energy, and with more mass. I would guess that that would have a definite effect as well. My guess is, that if you get right down to it, that this will probably vary dramatically by the variables of the player.
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:12 PM   #14
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i think i remember something about stainless strings wearing frets faster,
coated strings have came along way, these had been on 2 months, and still are d'addario EXPs
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Demon_Hunter View Post
On all of my guitars the fretwear has started out where the thinnest strings are at.
Well you know alot depends on where you spend most of your time playing at. Frequency of use is probably the biggest factor in wear.
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