Some beginner questions about fret repair
i will preface this by saying, I am just barely above what would be considered a beginner when it comes to anything technical with guitars. I have been playing off and on for years, but never focused on really LEARNING until the past year.
I have 2 main electric guitars. The first is a 1990's Samick. Last year though, I splurged and got an RG550 20th anniversary Black. The Samick is actually pretty nice for it's age, and what it is. It is very obvious, just looking at the frets, that it needs some work. There are lots of worn spots, some far more than others. It can be a pain to fret notes on. When I bought the RG, I took it to a local guitar store (NOT Guitar Center, due to some bad experiences with their techs) and asked them to do a setup on it, and mentioned that I was getting a lot of string rattle on the low E. I got it back, and although it mostly was better, I still had a lot of buzz AND rattle at various points on the fretboard. I started trying to figure out the problem myself. One thing I found, was that although the neck was straight and level by itself, it was angled, making the strings at the nut have less than .5 mm between the bottom of the string and the first fret. That seemed very low to me. I put in a couple of shims, and things seemed quite a bit better. I still noticed that at various points on the neck, I still got buzzing, or I seemed to have to press much harder to get the note to ring properly. I started looking at it more, and noticed that a number of the frets show a lot more wear than the others, and most of them appear to be pretty flat.
That was a long way to go to ask my questions. I have seen quite a bit of good information on how to do fret leveling etc yourself. What I can't determine though, is how do you know whether a fret is worn enough to require this treatment? I mean, I know that if it feels wrong, it probably is, but is there some kind of "rule of thumb" to determine if it is time to have them leveled and or crowned? At what point do you determine they are too far gone, and should just be replaced?
For the Samick, there are enough frets that are really really worn down and flat, that it is probably easier/cheaper to just have them replaced. For my RG though, I am not so keen on replacing them if they can be saved, especially since it is only a few of them that I notice wear on.
Since I am not really good, and have no interest in playing professionally, things don't have to be PERFECT for me to enjoy them, but especially with the RG, after spending that much money on one of my dream guitars, I would like it to be as good as possible. I believe that the guitar place took advantage of my lack of knowledge, and did the bare minimum (as in, just cleaned it and put new strings on). I know it seems funny to trust some guys on the internet, but from what I have seen here, even when people have differing ideas on things, you all seem to be pretty knowledgeable.