Hi all, I am repairing a very old open back banjo and have a couple of frets that have bad wear in them. I don't want to replace the fret wire as I don't have the correct type or even anything similar. Is there anyway to repair the worn area other than levelling all the frets? I was thinking of applying solder to the area after heating it up with a soldering iron. What do you think??


New Zealand

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Tin solder is way too soft and wouldn't do the trick at all. I imagine the only way (assuming these old frets are German silver, which mean an alloy of copper, tin and nickel) would be to get the fret out, heat another fret with a acetylene torch and burst it on the old one ; then you would have to machine or file it to the desired shape. No guarantee but from a mechanical point of view it would make sens. Maybe some more experienced machinist would confirm or throw me rocks...
Go for a levelling, any other way is much too complicated.

After a second thought at it, maybe you could file another fretwire to make it fit?
My bad, German silver is copper+zinc+nickel, not copper+tin+nickel.
If the instrument worth it, I'd go for a complete re-fretting with the most similar fret wire.
I agree w/ a refret.If it's for you you'll be glad.You'd probably end up with a headache repairing just the bad ones.Show us a pic of the frets if possible.All this assuming someone wants to play it of course.
What about moving all the good frets down to haedstock and putting the bad ones at the end.Then you could clean them up
nicely and the whole thing would look like new frets.But you can't skip the leveling part.Is this a museum piece?
TIm - I think the frets would be more than a bit too short if moved from first position up the neck to the end.

If the problem is wear on only a couple of frets and the neck is otherwise straight with nice tall frets, then you could simply replace the worn ones with new frets. Take your time, and you can file the new, presumably too-wide frets to the right width before installing, then level and crown them to match the old frets.
It sounded like he was determined to keep those frets.Glad you're watchin' Frank.I would have done this the minute I thought of it.And then found out what you already know and then made a few new ones at the end.
Oh well...thanks for stoppin' him or me.
Hi all, thanks for the replies. It is much appreciated. Yes, I did want to keep the frets but it looks like I will have to replace some of them. The repair job is for a music store here and I was trying to keep the cost down. Another reason is I am not really set up yet to do fret work. I will be purchasing fretting tools form the US in January.
Again, many thanks for the advice!

Dig into your old junk banjo pile and remove some frets like the ones you need.

ALWISE save all the old banjo parts and some time the parts will come handy.

Hi Wayne , what's stopping you ordering the correct wire ? There is a big range available at AMS here in Aus.and probably from your local music retailer . You dont need a lot of fancy tools either , Len
Sounds good to me. Got any that's .070" wide? How about .060 or .065? I've been looking for those sizes for about four decades now . . .
Hi all, thanks for the help. I have decided to refret. While I haven't go the correct tool, I have a friend here who has, I will be going to him soon. Again, many thanks.



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