Stainless Steel vs Nickel Silver, Do You Hear A Difference

Do you hear a difference between stainless steel and nickel silver frets wire?

  • Yes

    Votes: 9 16.7%
  • No

    Votes: 31 57.4%
  • Banana

    Votes: 14 25.9%

  • Total voters


May 18, 2021
I can hear a difference in all my guitars. I'm thinking mostly what I hear are the different pickups.

Can someone tell me how to isolate the SS frets to know what I'm listening for?


May 26, 2006
Jacksonville, FL
here's what I suggest guys consider..
if you have recurring refrets.. ya probably get tired of dumping several hundred on the same old guitar, time after time.... knowing that at some time in the future its going to be extremely costly to have a neck that cannot be refretted reconditioned so that a new set will stay in the slots..

For you guys ya gotta ask yourselves does the possibility of the "ping" if it exists at all, preclude ya from having your #1 done in stainless... for what for many will be the last refret they need... or will ya keep on with nickel silver, watching the slivers of nickel silver fall to the floor every time ya play..


The Pink Bunnyman Phranknstein
Silver Member
Dec 27, 2016
I have done A/B comparisons with new strings on the same guitar. I couldn't hear any difference but I do feel a difference. I can also see how much harder the stainless is compared to the nickel when I work them down during a refret or L&C. The stainles is much harder and does hold it's polish and slickeriness better. If you are looking for longevity and smoothness then Stainless in your friend. If you don't care either way then go with the cheaper of the two.
I like to refret with stainless because I like my work to last but in the end, it is all a matter of opinion on which is better and sounding better is VERY subjective no matter what it is.


Nov 17, 2021
FACT: Material hardness effects tone, resonance and sustain, whether we're talking about metal, wood, plastic or even glue. How much impact everything has depends on the guitar and the rest of the components...

Guitar players seem to debate this stuff all the time. If it's not SS frets it's; tonewood, fretboards, magnets, pickups, set vs bolt on necks, strings, stop tails, nuts and saddles. The truth is, EVERYTHING matters and makes a difference. (If NOTHING mattered except for the pickups then every guitar with the same pickups would sound the same, they don't ) Stack it all up right and you get an amazing guitar. Stack it up wrong and you get a guitar that sounds like crap. Most guitars are a compromise and wind up sounding somewhere in the middle.

Some people can hear the subtle differences that these individual components make and some people can't. SOME people can't even hear the significant differences... or even agree on what sounds good or bad.

This all adds up to why there are NEVER going to be any DIFINITIVE answers to many of these questions...(at least not answers that everybody is going to accept and be satisfied with)..... just more debates..
Last edited:


Dr. Stratster
Sep 5, 2020
Altered States
Here's a Warmoth comparison video, back to back. Try listening to it blind, with headphones. He doesn't identify which neck is which until the end.

I did a blind test and I thought there was a difference. I was able to identify both necks. That actually surprised me. I didn't expect to hear enough of a difference to be definitive.

But, it is small. Like many of these tests I don't think you call it out unless it was back to back.



Senior Stratmaster
Oct 13, 2014
All three of my Strats have been refretted with SS. From my experience, the "zing" noise occurs when the strings get divots from the SS frets. Change the strings and the "zing" goes away. I actually took my EC to the shop thinking there was a problem with the refret with SS. There wasn't, it was the divots, lesson learned, and I've passed that along to many folks, including on this forum.


Anti conformist reformist
Jan 22, 2016
I can hear a difference in all my guitars. I'm thinking mostly what I hear are the different pickups.

Can someone tell me how to isolate the SS frets to know what I'm listening for?
It can’t be done. That is why the only correct answer to the question is “Banana”.


Senior Stratmaster
May 18, 2016
Aff-Ma-Heid, Ontario
I remember a while back, walking into my local music store and this dude was wailing away on a new Strat, and all I could hear were the stainless frets. I was so taken back, I took pliers to all my then guitars, and ripped out those lousy 'whatever' metal they were. I've never looked back.

Ok, everything written above was fiction. Why's that? Because I'm human and I really don't think material of frets affect the tone of the guitar. I mean, new strings vs old? Yes. Pickups, amps, pedals. Yes. Woods, yes. But frets? I dunno. The feel of the guitar depends greatly on frets. But the tone? Can't see it. Or, no pun intended, hear it.


May 26, 2006
Jacksonville, FL
ya know.. everyone's tactile interface with a guitar is different... If "YOU" have a bad experience with something a huge number of other guys do not experience.. guess what.. the problem is "you" not everyone else.. so if you don't like or think you don't like Stainless frets, don't buy 'em, but don't try to convince those not so brainwashed that their choice to use them is somehow exposing a flawed auditory sense...


Senior Stratmaster
Jun 17, 2014
I look at SS frets as an evolution. They play better, they last longer, they look shinier. I see nor hear a downside. In fact for me its a major consideration of purchase. I will choose a guitar with SS over a nickel fretted one. To me the manufacturer owes it to me to create the longest lasting product. And if Im paying over 500 bux it should have SS frets.

Triple Jim

Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar
Silver Member
Feb 27, 2018
North Carolina
I can hear a small difference, but it's when I don't quite fret properly and allow a little buzzing. Then stainless is a little zingier. But when I fret properly and the string is held firmly to the fret, I don't hear a difference.

For me, the difference is completely unimportant, and the advantages of SS far outweigh the disadvantages.