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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an RG2550Z where the frets become "gritty" after a few months or less, at least with no use. They look a little tarnished, and bending feels like it's on fine grit sandpaper. Not sure it can be seen in the photo, maybe in full size:



Is poor quality fretwire common in Prestige line guitars? The guitar is stored in its case, in the house, little humidity, not near the sea, wasn't exposed to the elements. I have another guitar, non-Ibanez, much cheaper, and no fret problems under the exact same conditions.

When I first bought the RG the frets felt similarly bad. I thought it was just bad storage in the store or during import, and asked the store to take care of it. They treated the frets, and it felt good. A few months later, during which I haven't used the guitar, same problem.

It seems even some of the screws on the guitar are of poor quality. See the ones covered in white, as opposed to the still-black ones:



Even the nut screws look a bit fishy (light in photo isn't good):
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I practically didn't touch the guitar between the time it was smooth (back from treatment) and bad again.

Are your Ibanez guitars okay in this regard? What models/years?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So they all had smooth-feeling frets after months/years? (Other than normal use wear.)

What about the screws of the pickguard and nut in your guitar? I find it offensive that a $1100+ guitar uses screws probably crappier than what you'd get in a $5 100-pack.
 

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So they all had smooth-feeling frets after months/years? (Other than normal use wear.)

What about the screws of the pickguard and nut in your guitar? I find it offensive that a $1100+ guitar uses screws probably crappier than what you'd get in a $5 100-pack.
I've had Ibanez Jems from the late 80s and early 90s with smooth frets. You might just have a dud. Haven't had the screw issue either.

I'm not an ibanez fanboy either, I probably post the most ibanez h8 on this forum :D
 

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I've had this happen to essentially all nickel silver frets I've ever used. They're fine if you keep playing on them regularly (so the strings are rubbing against the frets), but if I let a guitar sit for more than a month or two, they begin to oxidize, which is exactly what you're describing. Ibanez, Fender, PRS SE, Schecter... If the guitar sits long enough, the fretwire will oxidize.

The good news is it's an easy fix (follow Rich's procedure on Ibanezrules.com), and it's even easier to prevent - just play regularly, and the guitar will be fine. Or, you could have your guitar refretted with stainless (which I go for whenever I can- I prefer it), but expect that to be pretty expensive.
 

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This happens when I leave guitars in there cases for a month or so without playing. Some of the fret sandpaper cleans them right up.
 

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I have the same RG2550zgk model and I have not had that problem. Easy solution though - use steel wool to smooth and buff the frets and then oil the fret board and it should feel nice and smooth again =)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Completely opposite experiences here, how's that? Maybe different fretwire types used on the same model depending on batch/year/something? Climate?

Stealth, dorian: Do you mean no problem on guitars your play regularly, or also guitars that are unused for a few weeks/months?

Drew: Nickel-silver as opposed to stainless steel, or what other types do you mean? The guitar I have without this problem is a Schecter. I don't think the fretwire it uses is anything fancy.

dorian: Well, it is a hassle If I'm going to have to do it every few weeks. Do you have it happen/not happen on other guitars? The one above is a 2011 or 2012, what's yours? Oh, and I don't have a GK, it's GW. ;)

What about the screws, did you people experience that white rust or something similar?
 

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I haven't had the problem on guitars I play regularly or store. Although I have bought guitars with frets that were rough like you describe but that's because the guitars were basically put into storage with dirty old strings and gucky stuff on the fingerboard. If the guitar is put away clean with clean strings then this should not happen. and the fret dress that I spoke of with steel wool is something that will last for years if you store the guitar properly after.
 

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Did you put lemon oil on the fretboard? That will just accelerate corrosion. The evaporatives in the case attack the nickel. The corrosion on the screws is from leaving sweat on them.
 

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Did you put lemon oil on the fretboard? That will just accelerate corrosion. The evaporatives in the case attack the nickel. The corrosion on the screws is from leaving sweat on them.
I didn't know lemon oil did that... I use the Dunlop lemon oil occasionally if the board looks dry but I always wipe it down to remove any excess... What do you recommend instead of the lemon oil to keep the rose wood boards in good condition?
 

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Lemon or is made from lemons, very acidic PH. Attacks nickel, especially in closed case where it evaporating off the board right onto the fret.

Woodwind bore oil.
 

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Some people have sweat that not only accelerates corrosion of metal, but also accelerates decay of wood and finishes. Rory Gallagher had an extreme case of this problem as did Eric Clapton. Clapton's sweat basically turned his mahogany necked SG from Cream into what felt like a balsa wood necked SG. His Blackie strat got so worn down and compromised that frets ends started sticking out and this most famous of all strats was retired.

http://www.vintageguitar.com/12684/claptons-fool/

As for the gritty frets, play your guitar more often. But with most of us working, and some of us with too many guitars, the reality is that some frets will get gritty. That grittiness probably makes a guitar feel more unplayable than almost any issue out there if one is prone to bending strings. I have seen some pretty bad frets on some of the most revered guitars, like an old L5, so it's not a matter of "low quality" frets.
 

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I've only ever had an issue like that where I had a guitar sitting in a case full of damp sponges. I was purposely trying to keep the guitar in a very high humidity environment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
dorian: The frets were treated and were smooth some months ago, and it was stored in a case since. So it doesn't last years, nor even months.

But then I found out that cases can cause problems, and now also Rich mentions it. Here's an interesting thread on the topic of cases and pickguards causing rust:
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=1303356

Rich: I didn't use lemon oil, but I'm not sure what the store did in their treatment.

If it's the guitar case, that would be ironic. The fancy original case from the manufacturer causing deterioration. The case still smells somewhat new, is only open when taking the guitar out or putting it back in, and the fretboard is pressed tightly into the plush.

The Schecter without the fret problem is also in a case, but a plainer generic one, and maybe less snug and sealed.

If it's the guitar case to blame, what's the solution? Leave it open for a week to let it air? Bad materials used and it should be ditched?

About the screws, it's not sweat. Most screws are too far away (e.g., the bottom of pickguard screw in the 2nd screws photo), and anyway I rarely touch any. There's also some of that rust on the large neck screws. And then you have the middle pickup screws, which are of a different, more domed, type, that are clean.

63Blazer: Old quality guitars don't necessarily have good quality frets. But if the case is to blame, as Rich suggested, then perhaps the fretwire is no better or worse than that of my problem-free guitar.

---

So now that the case theory was introduced, how do you people store your actively used/less used guitars? If in cases, what sort of cases and how much time are they open?
 

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Drew: Nickel-silver as opposed to stainless steel, or what other types do you mean? The guitar I have without this problem is a Schecter. I don't think the fretwire it uses is anything fancy.
Nickel silver is what's used for virtually all frets - there may be ever-so-slight differences in composition from manufacturer to manufacturer, but if you grab any guitar off the rack at a guitar store, the material the frets are going to be made out of is almost certain to be nickel silver, and a fairly standard composition at that. There are big differences in fret height and width, but for the most part, if your guitars have frets on them, they're made out of nickel silver.

Stainless is the one exception - I don't know where it first started, perhaps with Parker, but you're beginning to see more stainless frets. The major advantages are 1) they're much harder than strings (provided you're using nickel wrapped strings and not stainless wrapped) so they last much longer, and 2) they don't corrode. Major disadvantage is because they ARE so hard, they are much, much harder to work with.

Do you play your Schecter a lot more than your Ibanez? That would help prevent corrosion, or more accurately would insure that it gets worn off before it can build up enough to be noticable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Both the Schecter and the Ibanez saw similar amounts of time with no use, during which they sat in their cases. Afterwards, the Schecter felt as good as it did before, i.e., far far better than the Ibanez.
 
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