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Post subject: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 11:19 am
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I just got off the phone with Fender tech about an issue I'd like to share here.
About a year after I bought a brand new 2016 American Elite Strat with a maple neck it developed a sitar-like string buzz/sizzle on the B string between the 7th and 11th frets. Notes played on the B string along these frets lost their sustain and clarity. I took it to my local authorized repair shop and they recommended a set up which was done. It helped but I still had the issue so after multiple return visits they recommended a level crown and polish which was also done. That lasted about a month or so before I started having the same problem. So began my repetitive journey.

Three different authorized shops, each blaming the others for poor work and I finally ended up at Buchanan Music more than a year or so into this issue, who said "no one was crowning the frets right". That's a fair assumption and, right inline with what all these places said about the last folks who worked on it.

I payed him to re crown the frets and put a bone nut on it. At this point I had lost trust on everyone while also scrutinizing the way I play. You name it, I looked at it. I got the call that it was ready to be picked up and we both went over his work on the frets. The Luthier Jeff, is an artist and his work was impeccable. It played and sounded the best it had ever played since it was new.

About a month or so later, guess what... yep... it was right back to the same issue. I took it back in to let him look at it and the frets looked as if there was about a years worth of wear on them.

To put this in perspective, I've got a Tele I bought new in 91 or 2 that, in all those years, never needed any fret work. It always played perfectly and, at the time I purchased it, I was in a working band getting played almost every day. It may have had a set up or two, I really don't remember which is my point, I never had an issue with it.

I spent over a year trying to get educated on this and the most frustrating thing about it wasn't the issue itself but that no one was looking at this issue the way it really needed to be scrutinized. They all (including Buchanan, blamed the "last guy that worked on it". No one considered for a second that there could be a materials issue. Buchanan was the first place that looked at it like that which is why I'm finally here today writing this from a well educated and considerate point of experience.

I don't know if it was a bad batch or stretch of fret wire for sure but it appears that there may have been an issue with the Dunlop 6105 wire used. I suspect that the metal may not have been hardened correctly. Its only a guess and maybe I'm wrong but there must be others out there who either gave up and went with stainless steel frets or just said screw it and picked up another guitar. Fender so far, has declined to help but did say that they would look into the issue further. I have dates and receipts for all the work performed dating back to the first repair attempt.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Maybe you didn't work the issue to the extent that I have but, an abnormally fast and excessive fret wear issue?


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Fender Play April 2019
Post subject: Re: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 8:40 am
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What type/brand of strings did you use during your year of trouble?
The only time I ever experienced excessive fret wear was when playing stainless strings.
Its definitely a hardness issue though.
You'll probably have to re-fret the neck if it continues to sitar.
At least you know the better guitar tech in your area now.
Unfortunately you could have probably bought a replacement neck already with what you have in it.


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Post subject: Re: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
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Yeah, If I would have known I could have called Fender a lot sooner. I've used D'Adario nickel wound EXL120s since it was unboxed. I figured there was no way I was the only one. I've got four other guitars and this one is the only one with the problem. I think Fender should step up the the plate on this one but regardless, after this little learning experience... I'll never buy another new Fender instrument again. You couldn't give me one.


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Post subject: Re: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 12:58 pm
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I planned on getting a brand new strat in about 5 years (to coincide with a landmark birthday). After hearing this, maybe I will be shopping vintage. :(

Psssst. Hey Fender. This is a good time to jump in on this thread and make it right.


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Post subject: Re: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:24 am
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It might be an isolated issue. A friend of mine had Warmouth make a custom neck
using 6105 frets a few years ago (2016/2017). He's had no problem with them at all....so far.

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Post subject: Re: Soft frets on a 2016 American Elite Strat?
Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:18 pm
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I just returned a 2016 American Elite Sienna Burst with rosewood board I bought used because when I put new strings on it I noticed some serious wear on the 2nd and 3rd strings. I didn't notice it when I bought it because there was no noticeable buzz but there was definitely something wrong with the fret wire. The guitar was in pristine condition and no way it could have been played enough in 2-3 years to cause the amount of wear the frets were showing. There absolutely has to be a defect in the materials.


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