All frets will wear with use (aka: playing the instrument). We see many instruments with frets that have worn down over time and are in need of some real help. Often the owner doesn't even realize how bad it's gotten until we bring it to their attention because fret wear happens gradually and the owner may not have noticed that they are having to push a lot harder on the strings or the instrument doesn't sound as good. The wear also happens directly under the strings so it's hard to see unless the strings are off or unless you look at the fret from an angle.
Worn frets de-value an instrument, will wear the fingerboard more quickly, and negatively affect playability and tone.
What To Do?
If the fret wear is not too bad a worn fret can be dressed and re-crowned, which is removing any dents and then shaping the fret so it looks and performs just like it did when it was new.
If the fret wear is too great (dents too deep) or if the fret has already been dressed and re-crowned before and there isn't enough material left for another dress and re-crown, then the fret (or frets) will need to be replaced.
Whether an instrument needs a dress and crown or a re-fret, lots of time and skill is required to do the job properly. Uneven frets, frets left too wide on top, frets too high or too low, can occur in the hands of a well-meaning repair person who does not have the experience or skill in this process.
We have been performing fret work on instruments for over 50 years. Bring your instrument to us and we will take a careful look. If work is needed, we will give you a written estimate. Often only some of the frets are worn and need attention, but - like tires on a car - do need to be maintained or replaced over time.