PRS w stainless frets


New Member
Jun 16, 2012
Anyone ever replaced the standard ones w stainless? Curious if they sound much different through a prs guitar.
Oooh... that's one of the questions that will guarantee a very mixed response.

I haven't played a guitar with stainless.. At least knowingly so I can't really comment on sound differences.

But aren't the frets PRS use close to stainless - not in materials - but that they last a long while? Sure there's a vid with paul in which he states he doesn't think anyone should have to take a guitar for a re-fret.
I think the original frets used were nickel, and wore out faster. I think they use a nickel alloy blended with steel now so the frets have more life and similar tone. There is a youtube vid of Mr Paul "Wonka" Smith speaking on the matter. For what its worth, I like the durability of stainless, and cant hear a noticable difference. I also dont have the german shepherd hearing of PRS.
My PRS frets feel very similar to my SS Suhr. Both guitars sound great, but so totally different it's hard to know if the SSs have a positive or negative impact on tone. Both are far slicker to play than any other guitar I've ever owned. The Suhr has nearly zero fret friction, tho, which is fun to play.

If the Suhr is a zero for friction, the PRS is a 20 and regular nickel is 60.
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I think SS is the perfect material for fret. No wear out, no friction and I can't see any difference tone wise. Some people say that they bring some high frequencies to the spectrum, but I really can't hear it. All my guitars, PRS and no PRS has SS frets, but my SCHB and Tremonti witch have the original frets. As soon I have to regret them, I will go with the SS ones.
I have a Private Stock being built as we speak. I spec'd SS for the frets. I've had them on a couple guitars, and loved the feel. I think it was Tdarian who replaced the frets on his ME1 with SS frets. He'd be able to give you the "before and after" tone reports.
I used to have a 2000 CE22 that played great, but it had a lot of fret wear. I had it PLEK'd and setup, and it had enough life on the frets for a few more years of playing. I sold that guitar back to the original owner, and built a Warmoth Thinline Telecaster with an all rosewood neck and stainless steel frets - love them! They are fantastic. The fretwork from Warmoth was very good. My tech put it on the PLEK machine to take measurements and couldn't find anything really worth trying to correct besides a couple frets that needed leveled slightly by hand. Now I have a 2013 SE Custom 24 and it plays great out of the box.

All in all, I prefer SS because they won't need any maintenance later on, but I understand why PRS wouldn't use straight up SS frets. They are very hard on tools. My tech charges about 5-10% more for SS fretwork.

Here's a photo of my Tele for reference - will be putting covered Dragon II's in the PRS next week, so pictures of that next!

Paul Smith said:
The first thing you notice when you pick up a guitar is how it feels in your hands. The guitar neck is paramount to that moment, and the feel and function of the frets plays a major role in this. If you boil it down, we're basically talking about fret material and shape. If the material is too soft, metal flakes will fall off of the guitar as it's played. If it's too hard, the frets contour to the fretboard. We use the hardest, functional material we can to avoid unnecessary re-frets. We also superglue the frets in their slots to avoid fret movement and to avoid introducing water back into the neck. As far as shape goes, a fret needs to be level and perfectly radiused to maintain the integrity and comfort of the neck, prevent string buzz, and give the instrument the ability to have low action.

Frets also contribute to an instrument's overall tone. Obviously, they create the scalable notes of the guitar, but it is also important to note that when a string is engaged against a fret, the fret is carrying the string's vibration into the wood. So, they can either add to or take away from a guitar's natural resonance and musicality. We use frets with a lot of nickel, which rings well. And between the fret radius, the superglue, and the tines of the fret, they fit so well in the fret slots that the sound transfer is unhindered.

In the end, the point is that every piece of the puzzle is important, including frets.

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I had my McCarty PLEK'd with a fresh set of 6150 SS frets (it was an older beater, previous owner played the snot out of it and some of the frets were so worn the intonation was actually off for several notes! lol :eek:). I don't feel that it dramatically changed the tone of the guitar (maybe unplugged you hear a tiny bit more *ping* to the note, but plugged in? no way!), although to be fair I also changed the bridge and pickups on the guitar as well which undoubtedly would change the tone of the guitar way more. I had the bridge and pickups done before the frets since the fretjob required a refin to make it back to factory-spec, the fretboard edge re-cleared so the edge of the fretboard was in the same condition as it would have been when it left the factory originally. Both the painter and fret tech used are prior PRS employees who take great pride in making sure any PRS guitars they work on are up to PRS factory standards! :D Other than feeling buttery smooth again, there was no significant difference to the frets, definitely not a tonal change from the frets between the time I played it with the new bridge/pickups and after the refret. Hope that helps! I do wish PRS would offer the option for SS frets on their production stuff, I know it's harder on the tools and a bit more of a PITA for their techs but I personally love SS frets and have the tendency to have them added to most of my guitars whether they are actually in need of a fretjob or not just because they feel so smooth, bending is effortless! :biggrin: