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  1. #1

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    Hello,

    I'm unsure of this is the right place to have this thread. The fret wear on my EVO Gold is freakish to say the least. According to my guitar tech, the sweat seems to have corroded the parts of the frets between the strings with the string protecting the part of the fret underneath it. I do play with very very low action. This wear happened gradually over 3 or so years. My guitar tech said this is the first time he's seen this sort of wear this fast with EVO Gold frets. Stainless steel are just about out of the question because I don't want to risk the tone of the guitar changing and lord knows if my corrosive sweat will eat through those faster. I really have two options, get this guitar re-fretted with nickel frets, or get a fret dress and ride these frets out (almost literally) until they need to be ultimately re-fretted. I did gig at ton in 2015-2016, and moderate amounts in 2018 and 2019. One way or another, I'm definitely using a different guitar for teaching.

    My luthier who I've been with since 2006 uses the Plek machine, so his rates are twice that off others in the area ($281 for a fret dress, and $700 for a re-fret with Nickel). I think I vaguely remember getting my nickel frets polished after about three years but they didn't have a wear pattern like this. Here the pics of the terror that gradually occurred. I had nickel frets all throughout college at USC where it was sunny 350 days of the year, but I can't recall if I had my action set this low but I do remember having little to no problems with buzzing frets.

    I'm wondering if I should get my guitar re-fretted back to Nickel or get the EVOs leveled and polished. You guys are the ones who build and make instruments, what are your recommendations? I'll make a post in the Guitar, gear and gizmos section to get the consumers perspective as well.

    EVO Gold Frets Corroding-img_3577-jpgEVO Gold Frets Corroding-img_3578-jpgEVO Gold Frets Corroding-img_3579-jpg
    Last edited by jjang1993; 02-20-2019 at 10:49 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Not unheard of. See the links below. I apparently have very neutral sweat has I have a several guitars with this fret wire and one I have played 2-3 hours a day for the past year with absolutely no sign of wear. It might have also been a bad batch of wire. Since you won't do stainless, my recommendation is to polish and when needed refret.
    Evo wear

    EVO Gold Fretwire
    Last edited by rob taft; 02-20-2019 at 11:07 PM.

  4. #3

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    I have done lots of fret dressings over the years and refrets. Never have I seen anything like that at all. I have seen the typical cuts deep in the fret and a complete mess but never what you are posting. I looked at the links provided by the Rob and I guess I still wonder. Clearly I would go back to nickel silver if this is what is going to happen. I just love the Gold EVA and did a recent set of super jumbo's for a fine player who is on the forum sometimes. I think they are best frets in the business so this has me wondering. I am not going to stainless steel that is just too hard and eats tools right up. Huge premium if you want me to do the stainless steel.

    Basically I would do stainless steel if you agree buy the tools for about 1/3 of the price of each tool. Then I can recoup because after 3 fret jobs I am going to have to get another set.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  5. #4

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    what kind of strings did you use on it??

    cheers

  6. #5
    LaBella Nickel Plated Steel. I'm leaning towards getting this sucker re-fretted with Nickel Frets. It's inevitable this mess will happen again. At least I know now, never ever get EVO Gold Frets, my body chemistry burns through it like crazy.

  7. #6
    This is straight up a freak occurrence. I've found no one else online reporting something like this about these frets, everyone else is describing there no wear or corrosion at all. If (potentially, probably, when) I get this re-fretted I'm going to see if my luthier will stick some of these frets in a plastic bag to keep as a freak souvenir. Oh! Fun Fact, My teacher for USC, Bruce Forman told me yesterday he gets his frets dressed every 6-8 months! Dang!
    Last edited by jjang1993; 02-20-2019 at 11:33 PM.

  8. #7

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    Nickel frets are not well-known for sweat resistance either so you would be back to square one in a few months' time.

    There is a Spanish luthier, Jaen, who reported a similar issue with the EVO frets he installed for a customer. They wore faster than expected.

    The scalloped parts don't affect the intonation of the strings at the points where the strings touch the frets, do they? So, it is merely a cosmetic issue. If the guitar plays in tune at all frets, leave it alone.

    Did you get the EVO GOLD from Jescar directly or one of its authorised dealers, namely StewMac, Philadelphia Luthiery Supplies or LMII? I won't trust any other source for this fretwire. I got mine from LMII ($25 for a pre-cut set) and I don't have this issue. OK, I don't play as hard as you do.

    Mike Lull has a great reputation in the PNW but $700 for a re-fret? Man, I would just sell the guitar and buy a new one as I would a pair of shoes. If that is the new going rate I may just have to stop playing guitar. I double on the sax and a top of the line mouthpiece is $700 and that is considered very expensive. You need to find a new tech, not a rockstar tech. Or take a re-fretting course, buy a few tools and learn to do it yourself.

    I am being half-facetious about this but do you wash your hands before playing and wipe your fretboard down after playing or in between sweaty songs? Do you have a hand towel to dry your hands when they get clammy? I use a very light application of Autosol to shine up the frets about once every six months and Autosol seems to protect the frets. Leaves them very slippery to the touch. Perhaps you need to practise better fret hygiene.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Nickel frets are not well-known for sweat resistance either so you would be back to square one in a few months' time.

    There is a Spanish luthier, Jaen, who reported a similar issue with the EVO frets he installed for a customer. They wore faster than expected.

    The scalloped parts don't affect the intonation of the strings at the points where the strings touch the frets, do they? So, it is merely a cosmetic issue. If the guitar plays in tune at all frets, leave it alone.

    Did you get the EVO GOLD from Jescar directly or one of its authorised dealers, namely StewMac, Philadelphia Luthiery Supplies or LMII? I won't trust any other source for this fretwire. I got mine from LMII ($25 for a pre-cut set) and I don't have this issue. OK, I don't play as hard as you do.

    Mike Lull has a great reputation in the PNW but $700 for a re-fret? Man, I would just sell the guitar and buy a new one as I would a pair of shoes. If that is the new going rate I may just have to stop playing guitar. I double on the sax and a top of the line mouthpiece is $700 and that is considered very expensive. You need to find a new tech, not a rockstar tech. Or take a re-fretting course, buy a few tools and learn to do it yourself.

    I am being half-facetious about this but do you wash your hands before playing and wipe your fretboard down after playing or in between sweaty songs? Do you have a hand towel to dry your hands when they get clammy? I use a very light application of Autosol to shine up the frets about once every six months and Autosol seems to protect the frets. Leaves them very slippery to the touch. Perhaps you need to practise better fret hygiene.
    You bring up a really good point, about ending back up at square one and the aesthetics not being such an alarming issue. I always wipe the strings down, and I try to remember to wash my hands before I play, but I think I'm going to put a sticker on my guitar case that says "Wash your hands!!!" and another that says "Wipe EVERYTHING down".

    I'm thinking I should start wiping the frets down too after every time I pick this instrument up. I was thinking of just forking over the money to get a fret dress done to Mike Lull to buy me another 3 years. With that Plek machine, it apparently takes off the minimal amount of fret, so it'd essentially be a one day re-fret. It'll be an outpatient visit essentially, a 1 night inpatient stay at the guitar hospital overnight max.

    It any rate frets will wear down, and I'm actually willing to put up with more buzz than most people to get stupidly low action from lowered the saddle and having a neck with minimal relief (thanks idiot who jacked up my wrist in a MVA), and I can't look into a crystal ball and definitively say that nickel frets will wear down any slower than these current ones to warrant an entire re-fret right now. Thankfully the intonation is fine given the stock bridge I have on it isn't perfectly intonated, but it good enough for me. What really warranted me going to Mike Lull's shop were the two notes on the D and G strings at the 7th fret buzzing more than I'd prefer.

    Replacing the guitar in the near future/this year is just about out of the question. This guitar has a ton of sentimental value and I like it A LOT. The only guitar I've tried that I like more than this is Bruce Forman's Stefann Sonntag J16 Ballade guitar. That would total up to 5,500 euros plus the 19% VAT, so really about more or less than $6,500 before you factor in a case and shipping to the US as well as the exchange rate from euros to USD, insurance for shipping such a high value asset like that internationally and any customs fees I might have to pay. Later down the line, I'll definitely look into getting one of those. That guitar is and will likely be the best guitar I've ever played, and hopefully someday own, period, end of subject.

    Will wiping the frets down go a ways in helping slow this down? Does shredder action like what I have right now lead to faster fret wear?

  10. #9

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    Ermmm, you don't pay European VAT on the Sonntag when you are in Seattle, WA. US import duty is about 8% on non-USA guitars and sometimes the guys at US Customs look the other way.

    Steve Andersen of Seattle is as good as or better than Stefan Sonntag. You have one of today's best archtop luthiers in your town. Check Steve out. $5600 for his 16" Streamline is a great buy.

  11. #10
    I'll check his guitars out, we'll see. I've played many arch top guitars that ranged from 1.2k to up to 9k, and the one that came on top by a mile was Bruce's Sonntag. I don't want to go into all the details but the fact of the matter is I don't have 6k in discretionary spending lying around to get a Sonntag or any guitar of that price tag and I have a fret problem to deal with right now. I'm hoping that there is enough fret material left to get this Epiphone fret dressed without noticing a huge difference in fret height and know approximately how many fret levels I'd theoretically have given that it took 3 years and 3 months for this to pop up on the radar. If there isn't enough material left, I'll just get this sucker re-fretted with nickel frets, no more EVO or SS frets anymore. Either way this will be a big fat tax write off for 2019. For whatever reason, it just seemed Nickel didn't wear this fast, but hindsight is 2020.

  12. #11
    Hahah omg I talked to one of the managers at Jescar and he wanted to see the photos and he was straight up stunned. He said he's never seen or heard of that with EVO frets. He said he isn't even sure if getting stainless steel frets would be a better idea. I'm literally the only guitarist on this planet that wore through EVO Gold frets like this. This is like an urban legend. Let's make it one guys! "Man, I once heard a guitarist by the name of Jesse Sullivan who had such acidic hands, he'd burn through stainless steel. Rumor has it that while running the 100m men's relays at USC, he was the anchor leg just because his sweat would burn through the baton". A couple of white lies at the end, but that's part of the fun of reading about those urban legends lol!

    Ok back to business, I got off the phone with another tech in town, and he said that if the guitar still plays well, there isn't much of a need to get a total re-fret done given there's enough material. I'm bringing my guitar by his office tomorrow for him to take a closer look at. I mean, as long as this sucker plays well without only buzz that's bad enough to come through my amp, I'm happy as a clam. I just want it little less buzz really when push comes to shove, whether it be by a fret dress to get the most mileage out of this little bastards, or get a full-on re-fret.
    Last edited by jjang1993; 02-22-2019 at 11:25 PM.

  13. #12

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    My dentist, and many others, makes jewelry as a hobby. They have the tools and the eye hand coordination. Perhaps yours might be talked into a new undertaking in hardened gold?

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    ......Mike Lull has a great reputation in the PNW but $700 for a re-fret? Man, I would just sell the guitar and buy a new one as I would a pair of shoes. If that is the new going rate I may just have to stop playing guitar. I double on the sax and a top of the line mouthpiece is $700 and that is considered very expensive. You need to find a new tech, not a rockstar tech. Or take a re-fretting course, buy a few tools and....
    Jabs, In fairness to Mike, he does soup to nuts, and plekorama! I've had $300 jobs by others that I've regretted, some that I've not. But when I've had him do it, it's been a thing of beauty! And, it obviously has to do with the guitar value. That said, you're right about the price. I wish it where free!!! Hahaha
    Also, I've had EVO golds on my last several, no problems. Never seen a wear pattern like that! Alien blood. Should get a DNA test! Just kidding!

  15. #14

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    Please keep us posted about your unusual fret issue. Stranger things have certainly happened.

    Oh, and about the acidic hands of the track star...that's urban legend for sure. Not sure when Jesse Sullivan ran, but relay batons were usually made from aluminum or plastic, which are both non-corrosive.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjang1993 View Post
    Hahah omg I talked to one of the managers at Jescar and he wanted to see the photos and he was straight up stunned. He said he's never seen or heard of that with EVO frets. .
    Both links in the first reply by Rob Taft show the same thing, so at least you're not the only one. If you missed it, you should read both posts, especially the one about the mandolin. Some good posts by experienced luthiers with several pictures of the same wear.

    Some say it's the high copper content of EVO reacting with high PH, and others say they've seen it with nickel as well. Hard to know what to do...

    One thing that made a lot of sense in there: these guys buy more than one job's worth of wire at a time, so if it was a bad batch they'd see it on other instruments that were done with the same stuff.

  17. #16
    At least I know I'm not the only one. Maybe I can be an urban legend at the local level! Anyways, I'm getting this fret leveled by Lull next week; while recommendations from others in town have given me other techs than Lull, he has been the only tech to touch this thing and every time I've had this serviced I've been very very happy. I have an Ibanez AF71F on the way, so I'll use that sucker as a test run for another tech in town with lower prices for a fret level.
    Last edited by jjang1993; 02-23-2019 at 12:54 AM.

  18. #17
    How much would these protocols go in the long haul in preventing this from happening again to this extent and/or this early on?
    1. Washing my hands with dawn dish soap before I play.
    2. Wiping the strings and frets down between songs on a gig.
    3. Wiping the entire area of the string after I'm done playing.
    4. Wiping down each fret after I'm done playing.
    5. Cycling through 4 different T-shirts every 2-3 days for wiping purposes.

    I'll be sure to keep everyone in the loop with these developments with me being 1 of the 3 people known so far to burn through these EVO frets like the Alien blood burning through steel hulls that you see in that sci-fi series.
    Last edited by jjang1993; 02-23-2019 at 01:35 AM.

  19. #18

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    You might try using FastFret or FretEze. I don't know if it will help, but it can't hurt.

  20. #19
    I know they sell those guitar underneath the string cleaning the devices. I don't like how the fast fret leaves a greasy feeling on my fretboard, but it's been 11 years since I last used one. I'm sure it dries up and if it doesn't I'm sure I can wipe it up.

  21. #20

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    Are the frets actually scalloped? Hard to tell ...

  22. #21
    Yeah one of Mike Lull's assistants thought too. He had me feel along the fret and they seemed they had the scallopes. My 2nd opinion (always get a second opinion if you can, not with just guitars lol), said that he's not so sure if they're scalloped, he'd have to check with one of his blocks or one of his tools I can't remember the name of. Nothing against this guy, I'd take any other guitar to him; my gut just told me to go with Mike Lull.

  23. #22

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    I love scallops. Pan seared.

  24. #23

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    JJang, Of the tasks you addressed in your email above, I'd just do #1 and #4.

  25. #24
    Cool good to know, I dropped the guitar off yesterday to have Mike Lull Plek this guitar as well as check the radius on the bridge and if that's really out either fix the current one or just use a new saddle and slot new holes. I had voiced concerns on how I heard the Plek levels the frets to compensate for the bow from the truss rod. He assured me the machine just levels the frets like any traditional tech would do but with more precision and less material cut off. It's really weird not having a guitar around. I get my beater Ibanez AF71F tomorrow which will feel the full weight, strength, and power of the Sullivan sweat until Mike's work is done.

  26. #25

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    Interesting ...my theory is that the combination of the sweat or body chemistry PLUS the strings /fret combination might be how it occurs ...

    However I have no idea exactly how or why ....

    Some of the Luthiers who make Gypsy Jazz Guitars have said the EVO holds up well even for those Players who are apparently brutal on frets...

  27. #26

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    The only obvious reason is inferior quality control for the metal composition. Not saying that is the reason, but I can’t see another one that makes sense.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200 View Post
    The only obvious reason is inferior quality control for the metal composition. Not saying that is the reason, but I can’t see another one that makes sense.
    This is exactly why I tell them never to keep the large bags of french fries near the vats of molten alloy....

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjang1993 View Post
    How much would these protocols go in the long haul in preventing this from happening again to this extent and/or this early on?
    1. Washing my hands with dawn dish soap before I play.
    2. Wiping the strings and frets down between songs on a gig.
    3. Wiping the entire area of the string after I'm done playing.
    4. Wiping down each fret after I'm done playing.
    5. Cycling through 4 different T-shirts every 2-3 days for wiping purposes.

    I'll be sure to keep everyone in the loop with these developments with me being 1 of the 3 people known so far to burn through these EVO frets like the Alien blood burning through steel hulls that you see in that sci-fi series.
    1. Washing my hands with dawn dish soap before I play.

    That will help a lot; you should already have this habit.


    2. Wiping the strings and frets down between songs on a gig.
    3. Wiping the entire area of the string after I'm done playing.
    4. Wiping down each fret after I'm done playing.
    5. Cycling through 4 different T-shirts every 2-3 days for wiping purposes.

    Here is what I suggest... get a nylon carpet sample and cut a piece to fit in your case under the head stock, always ready.

    The advantage of the carpet sample is that it has some depth to it and will truly scrub the finger board and frets, and strings, including under the strings. A good full scrub is about 50 strokes from nut to bridge and back, about 30 seconds, which is what you want to do after you have played and are putting the guitar away.

    When you are getting the guitar out to play, it should be clean already, and the half dozen stokes then really serve to warm up the strings before checking tuning. The carpet sample is going to be about 4" x 4" and easy to set on you amp or fold and put in your back pocket, so you can give the strings a quick half dozen strokes between tunes.

    Before it gets too cruddy, cut another fresh piece and discard the old one.

    When I change strings I apply ChapStick to the finger board and then wipe it with the carpet sample, which leaves a little in the carpet. This seems to make it more effective for keeping the strings, frets, and finger board clean (ChapStick is waxy, not oily; it wipes off easy and the trace left has a natural feel).

    Using this approach my strings stay as shiny as new, and the limiting factor is that eventually the notch wear of the string to fret contacts causes a sufficient anomaly in the consistency of the strings to start becoming audible... they will eventually start to sound bad while still looking and feeling like new.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  30. #29

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    I don't know if it was mentioned but if the OP keeps the guitar in its case that may be the culprit. Someone may have applied something to the padding in the case that caused the degradation of the frets. It makes sense since the degradation is between the strings and very even. Maybe something like Lysol residue would cause this?

  31. #30

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    Man - that's a lot of work frets .

    Send a picture and quick description of problem to Jeff Silver ask if he can help or have your installer send it.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200 View Post
    I don't know if it was mentioned but if the OP keeps the guitar in its case that may be the culprit. Someone may have applied something to the padding in the case that caused the degradation of the frets. It makes sense since the degradation is between the strings and very even. Maybe something like Lysol residue would cause this?
    Yeah, now that you mention it, the amazing regularity of the degradation does suggest that something was "all over the finger board" and it wasn't fingers, looks like something else like case top padding... good clue!
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  33. #32

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    It would also explain the spacing of the divots. My guess is that someone either put something on the case padding or the chemical they used to polish the frets wasn’t properly wiped off the frets and it transferred to the padding. The chemical was harsh enough to degrade the frets.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200 View Post
    It would also explain the spacing of the divots. My guess is that someone either put something on the case padding or the chemical they used to polish the frets wasn’t properly wiped off the frets and it transferred to the padding. The chemical was harsh enough to degrade the frets.
    Is the pattern on ALL the frets? Or just a certain area?
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    Is the pattern on ALL the frets? Or just a certain area?
    You would have the ask the OP. I am only arm chair quarterbacking on this.

  36. #35

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    This guitar has been in my customer's hands for 4 years and 8 months:

    EVO Gold Frets Corroding-img_20190716_140850-jpg

    I'm not sure yet what we will do about it. Stainless I suppose.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by michmcca View Post
    This guitar has been in my customer's hands for 4 years and 8 months:

    EVO Gold Frets Corroding-img_20190716_140850-jpg

    I'm not sure yet what we will do about it. Stainless I suppose.
    Interesting- this appears to be wearing more like Nickel Silver frets right ?

  38. #37

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    This is 47104-EVO fret wire direct from Jescar.

    The player also has an L5 with nickel silver frets of similar size, and they don't look like this at all. Those frets show normal wear under the strings.

    The EVO frets are corroded wherever his fingers touch them a lot, but there is not much wear under the strings. The remarkable thing is that the guitar plays and sounds great. However, I'm concerned that the current playability will not last for long if the corrosion continues unabated.

  39. #38

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    A luthier said they wear great ( EVO Gold ) even on the GJ Guitars (GJ Players are murder on frets apparently ) ..so surprised when I hear these stories sometimes- I wonder if occasionally there is a slightly odd small batch of wire ?

  40. #39

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    Just an observation and it was brought up earlier. There are only 5 points of wear. Hence the wear is happening in between the strings - not where you would expect to see wear. I am convinced that (unless this guitar sat outside its case for all the time that these frets wore down) it is something in the case fur that is causing corrosion, not wear. I am guessing that there is not a lot of gold in gold EVO frets. Pure gold is pretty durable. It would be interesting to see if these frets polish up consistently because it appears as though a plating has corroded away. If they don't polish up that would be more evidence of corrosion and not actual playing wear.

  41. #40

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    EVO gold is a an allow reportedly made up of copper, tin, iron, and titanium. There is no actual elemental gold in the wire.

  42. #41

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    Probably not a lot of titanium, either. It's pretty resistant to corrosion, as is tin. Iron and copper, OTOH, are certainly not. Tin is used to coat steel strings to prevent corrosion, and titanium is very hard and corrosion-resistant. It resists corrosion by forming an oxide film on the exposed surface, which happens almost instantaneously. Corrosion resistance is increased by the presence of iron and copper, for various reasons. I continue to be amazed at the wear patterns shown in this thread. I have no idea what process could affect such an alloy that way. It should be highly resistant to concentrated sulfuric and nitric acid. Something is going on that I don't understand.

  43. #42

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    I want to correct a statement that I made earlier: "The EVO frets are corroded wherever his fingers touch them a lot, but there is not much wear under the strings."

    I measured today, and I found fret heights from .047" down to as low as .036". The lowest areas are the fret ends on the treble side around frets 5, 6 and 7, and the spaces between strings in the same general area. The highest points (directly under the strings) in those areas are measuring around .040". So there is some significant loss of material even under the strings, just not quite as much as between or outside. To summarize, the player has lost almost 1/4 of the fret height in the areas he touches most.