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Basses with vintage style / small frets

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jive1, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I've been loving my Laklands lately, and a big reason is because I love the smaller frets on them. I was wondering what other basses have vintage style/small frets. Anybody know?
  2. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    MIA Reissue Fenders.
  3. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Dingwall uses Banjo frets as a standard and Mandolin frets as an option on all of their basses.

    I too am hooked on the small frets and am having them used in my next custom from another builder. Big ones feel like speedbumps now.
  4. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    but why does it matter since you're such a lakland ho?
  5. on1ne


    Dec 21, 2004
    The CIJ RI 57 P lefty I got last year from Ishibashi has small frets. I thought it was just made with cheaper frets and then one of my more knowledgeable friends explained that the smaller frets are correct for the '57 model year. Shows how much I know, but the bass plays great regardless and the frets are fine.
  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I'm in.

    I too have a Dingwall with banjo fretwire. It's great. Because they're not as tall, you can get a lower action, and theoretically, more precise intonation as they wear.
  7. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Yup, I've been quite the Lakland Ho lately.

    But, can you blame me?
  8. Fret size is really more a preference of "feel". Action is the distance from the top of the frets (or fingerboard for fretless). Therefore, you can get just as low action on large frets.

    There are advantages to larger frets, too. You can generally play a little "sloppier" on finger placement, because you have more distance to push the string down and hence, don't have to be right on top of the fret.

    But smaller frets DO feel nicer, IMO.
  9. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I guess what Burningskies is refering too is that with smaller frets you can get your strings closer to the fretboard than with larger frets. While technically not action as you point out, I describe is as action myself quite often.
  10. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    As the nut would be cut more deeply and, as stated, the strings are closer to the actual board I would not hesitate to use the term "action" here, even though "string height" would be more accurate. I have a friend who feels that because the crown of the smaller frets have less surface area the action can be even lower without buzz, I keep telling him it has to do with his neck relief on the other bass but he won't let it go, any thoughts on that?
  11. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I've got 5 basses with the smaller (Dunlop 6230) size frets. While not quite as small as what Dingwall uses; they are pretty close (Vintage Fender size, IIRC). I like them quite a bit.
  12. I'd have to agree with you about the neck relief thing. I can't imagine how less surface area has anything to do with buzz. If it's touching, it's buzzing...no matter how little the surface area.

    Again, I believe it comes down to "feel". Players with a lighter touch would definitely enjoy the better texture of smaller frets. But players who like to "dig in" would find smaller frets a tad annoying.

    BTW This thread probably belongs in "setup", but the moderators have been rather liberal as of late.
  13. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    I'm hooked on those Laklands too. The small frets just seem right. I also had an old G&L with wide/short frets which had a cool feel as well.
  14. Out of curiousity..which are smaller, Banjo or Mandolin frets?
  15. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Mando are smaller than Banjo.
  16. Doesn't fret size inffluence sound? Could imagine that; there's less metal involved when pressing down a note on a smaller fret. Think I noticed the difference although I didn't A/B it
  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    As a Lakland and Fender owner, I have to say I like jumbo frets better. I like my Lakland but I don't love it.
  18. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Pre-EM Musicman basses have smaller frets; I don't know if they alter the tone in any way, but they are more 'invisible' to my fingers than big frets.
  19. Joe Beets

    Joe Beets Guest

    Nov 21, 2004
    How does the size of the frets affect the tone? It could make a huge difference in the sound, but nobody ever noticed. There are so many other tone factors like body wood, strings, pickups etc. Maybe fret size is the one magic factor that has been overlooked in the great bass tone quest. I know a few people scoffed at the "blue light on the front of gear" theory. But so many testimonials and happy "blue light" converts can't be wrong. If changing the lights on the front of your gear can drastically improve your tone as well as your bass playing, then maybe there is something to the fret size question. We need to have an A/B test with two identical basses. One with small frets and the other with large. Then we will finally know if size really does matter. By the way, I'm working on a "blue light" conversion for the BMAX-T which will also include blue abalone knob caps to replace the original red ones. I can't wait to hear what that does for my tone!!! ;)
  20. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Well smaller frets are supposedly able to produce a woodier tone. I cant comment on if thats true or not in my experience. I will have a kinda A/B test soon, as Im having Pete Skjold use banjo frets in my new bass from him, but it will also be fanned frets, so that will affect the tone as well and is not really an accurate comparison.

    I'll see if Pete can post some comments about my bass compared to others he's built sound wise once its finished. Maybe he can give a more informed opinion since he commonly uses medium jumbos or jumbos I believe.

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