hey everyone;
i was flipping thru the classifieds today and saw an ad for "fret rebuilding" as opposed to refretting. although i claim to in no way be any sort of authority, i have never heard of this ANYWHERE and the more i think about, the sillier it seems. i did shoot an email off to ask what exactly "rebuilding" a fret is / entails but i was wondering if anyone here had heard of it? i just can't see how you would "add on to a fret". if you could, i can't see it staying in place for very long. on top of that, IF you could, by the time it was added onto, shaped, leveled and recrowned it still seems like an awfully labour intensive way to fix it. way more than just replacing a fret or two. so my question is this. is this something i should be looking into as a new technique or is it simply a new way to be silly.

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Some luthiers tell me that fret wear consists largely of the soft nickel silver metal being "displaced" or "flowing" under the strings as they are pressed repeatedly against the frets. So, they claim varying degrees of success achieved by burnishing the frets and coaxing the metal back into the worn areas. It is a technique I haven't tried myself but it's on my rather long "future" list. . .
aaaaah! burnishing would not have occurred to me. it does make sense in theory, as long as there is no material actually missing. and it wouldn't create much heat. i heard back from the guy and he heats up the fret with a soldering iron and tries to work the metal back into place. i think that this would create WAAAAAY too much heat and you have a good chance of loosening the fret by heating it to that extent. don't some people use soldering irons to heat frets to facilitate removal?
i think that burnishing would produce a lot less heat in a much more specific area, with a lot less chance of popping a fret. sounds like it would be an excellent way to repair valuable or vintage gear with minimal risk of damage. burnishing has been added to the list of things to try. thanks!
Of all the pitted and worn frets I've seen over the years I can't think of a time I thought the metal had "flowed" very much. The frets just looked like frets with wear spots. Sometimes I've seen tiny rises at the edges of narrow pits but never enough to make me think that the pit could be filled back in with the metal remaining. I'd have to see the before, during, and after the rebuilding to believe that this works very well. But who knows? I've been surprised before with stuff like this. It's just that this sounds like a quick and dirty approach compared to replacing worn frets.
I agree, the fret wear does seem to be a matter of missing material, but often enough at the bottom of the wear spot, I've seen some lateral displacement. Check this photo:

"i heard back from the guy and he heats up the fret with a soldering iron and tries to work the metal back into place."

This is craziness, "tries", being the operative verb.
I've heard about this before, but what i dont really get is that once you've finished 'pushing' the nickel silver back you'll still have to level the frets, unless you're metal pushing is amazingly acurate - which negates the whole thing a bit to my mind.
Seems like a sledgehammer to crack a walnut to me, but i've never tried it either - I was trained as a precision engineer in my younger days and i just feel that it would take forever?

I'm ok with just re-fretting the thing personally, but i'd love to see someone do the rebuilding thing,

more power to em anyway!
I can only think of one case where this might be a useful practice. If a guitar already had frets replaced several times and the slots were just too worn to risk replacing them again. But even then, I think it would be easier and cheaper to replace the fingerboard too.

I'm far from an expert, but my vote is for silly.

Doug Collins
Never heard of it either, perhaps the practitioner has a poor command of English ( my Japanese is some what lacking). However, on cheap guitars that really are not worth re-fretting & if only a
couple or three frets are worn one can raise the fret, glue a couple of slivers of veneer (or any thin material) under the crown & re-seat it, level & re-crown. This I have done in countries on my travels where fret wire isn't available & people are poor, in exchange for dinner or a booze up...
is that lateral displacement in Frank's picture, or are the pits so deep that we are seeing a cross section of the crowned shape of the frets? kind of an optical illusion?


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