A good friend of mine is coming over tomorrow evening and he asked me to take a look at crystal frets and let him know how to get these on his guitar.....
Here is the company web site just.... dripping with lots of info.... (please note sarcasm....)
Anyway I have tons of concerns here including this claim from the site "Not since Les Paul built his first solid body electric guitar in 1941 has there been a breakthrough in the natural sustain and sound of a fretted instrument."
And this claim:
Other concerns include the permanent nature of the install seemingly requiring milling out the fret slots to the width of the desired crystal frets. As such this is not reversible and one also has to wonder since the manufacturer is who does the install what process controls they have in place to ensure either maintaining or correcting the precision of the fret spacing during the install.
In addition being a firm believer in the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true it just may be too good to be true. So I am skeptical to say the least and not all that keen to embrace anything making such wild claims and providing no.... data to back up the claims.
I would be very interested to hear everyone's thoughts about these crystal frets and if you have any actual experience with the product, the company, the process please let us know your impressions?
Hopefully instead of talking until I am blue in the face when my friend comes over I can just sit him down with a beer at my computer and let what you guys add here inform him of what he is getting into...
"let him know how to get these on his guitar....."
Simple: Send them his guitar, and a LOT of money.
There certainly isn't a lot of content on that web site to make their case. It seems to boil down to " isn't this great" sort of marketing and I think their "science" is suspect. The idea that quartz is used so that only the string vibrates is just bazaar. I suppose they have never heard of crystal oscillators. Quartz is very hard but it's hard to brittleness and therefore pretty easy to break. Also, it doesn't actually require diamond tools to work though it would be much easier. I happen to know from personal experience that quartz can be cut with standard sand papers, It will dull the paper quickly but it is hardly undamaged in the process. I think it may be true that these frets would last a very long time as long as they weren't subjected to any sort of impact, but I doubt they will "never" need to be replaced and, as you pointed out, Hesh, this is not a easily reversed process.
I think I would also be concerned about flaws in the crystal matrix of the quartz. I wonder where they source so much clean quartz to make so many perfectly clean and clear frets. I'm guessing that they don't actually have flawless material and that some of the frets will incorporate flaws in the structure. On top of it all, I'm willing to bet that the cost of a single installation of quartz frets would go a long way toward paying for multiple re-frets with standard wire.
All in all, I'm alway suspicious of "patented - only we can do it" sorts of processes. Obviously anyone that could get crystal cut into this shape could install crystal frets and the idea that only they are able to do this is ridiculous. In the end, what are you going to say if you pay them to do this and you don't like it? Are they offering to reverse the process if it doesn't live up to their hype. I certainly didn't see that anywhere.
One last thing. Looking at the picture of the frets on the "durability" page, it looks to me like the right fret has a sloped profile while the left one is flatter on the top. This makes me wonder about the consistency of their work. It really looks like an expensive risk on unproven technoloty with no guarantees.
Snake oil alarm :-)
I'm no authority but I think that these were originally sold out of the back of a covered wagon that went from town to town in the old west. If you bought the frets, you got a free bottle of Doc Gladhand's Magic Elixir, guaranteed to: aid in digestion, keep away small bothersome rodents and stop those pesky alien abductions. Or did I see that on a "Ma & Pa Kettle" movie? Anyway.....
From their FAQ page:
"Do Crystal Frets break?
Under normal everyday use, our frets will hold up as well or better than any other fret. As with any other prized possession, treat your frets with care and they will provide a lifetime of enjoyment."
Well, that eliminates 99.9% of all the gigging guitarists that I know.
"Not since Les Paul built his first solid body electric guitar in 1941 has there been a breakthrough in the natural sustain and sound of a fretted instrument."
Hmmmmm? I guess they completely slept through the era of Travis Bean & Veleno guitars?. What the heck, ignorance is ALWAYS a good excuse for why someone pulled a bunch of unfounded claims out of their bum
Here's how I see it, when that 'sample" Les Paul Studio gets bumped out of its stand and hits the deck face first (c'mon, we all KNOW it's gonna happen), the proud owner will be faced with a headstock break and...dah, dah, dahhhhhh.....fractured frets! Calling Dr Howard, Dr. Fine & Dr. Howard!!!!!
I think your best bet is a complete diversion. Tell him that it's now been determined that flawless diamonds mined from the southern polar regions of Jupiter's smallest moon provide 17% more sustain. Essentially, if he's buying this company's line of baloney, he'll most likely believe anything. Oh ya....the first shipment of Jovian diamonds arrive on Terra firma in 2135. Just schedule another appointment for that time & you've got it licked (-:
I use fossilzed amber instead of glass...the kind they used to line the string guides on expensive bamboo flyrods.Work great til 1 breaks and then another ana another...blabalabalaba be sure to use a very soft mallett
Thanks guys - much appreciated!
Jeffrey I wonder what it costs - maybe I will call them next week and ask.
Ned I too am suspicious of proprietary processes so good point! Regarding reversing the process if one does not like it this is not all that far fetched. How many of us have installed stainless frets and then had the player want to revert... I've only seen it happen once but that makes it a possibility in my book.
I would also like to see a guarantee as to the quality of the leveling and crowning as well not unlike the expectation from a PLEK job (even though I also believe that a human can do as good or better a job than a PLEK). But moreover what I would be looking for is a way to "quantify" the "expectation" and not just a pretty picture....
Grahame I agree - some things never change...
Paul magic elixir eh.... ;) What were those characters on Star Trek - Ferengi??? ;)
Tim maybe you and I should go in business selling fossilized amber and mastif poop for nut material? :)
Oh good grief - the idea of running a bunch of quartz crystals through a PLEK is giving me a giggle fit. I"m not sure if it would be the dust or the shattering that would be more amusing. And I'm not sure what would shatter first - the overheated bits or the frets.
And those are bar frets - EGAD, can you imagine the effort to get the installation right? Come to think of it, that might actually be the best ever application of a double-action truss rod.
So, is there anybody wondering if it's possible to hear any difference between any kind of properly installed and fitted fret in a double-blind test?
your kidding right what type of idot made these. I say stick with the good stuff never another material. i bend strings in my music so its the good stuff or nothing at all they need to stand up to my heavy hand these would be like dust in one show lol.
Is anyone here a fan of reading "Texts From Bennett"? ... just sayin'
At the moment I'm reading Making History from Stephen Fry. Does that count? :-)
what are they mike?
as in Tony Bennett?