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Black fret wire - is there such a thing?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by RunngDog, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. RunngDog


    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    ... Or would it have to be coated with something that would wear off instantly? I'd like to use on a dotless ebony fingerboard and get a look similar to a fretless.
  2. this has been covered countless times:
  3. you could make black (well very dark grey) frets out of carbon fibre but it would be a serious job, i would think you would have to install them as you would fretlines on a fretless but leave a fret above the board. cutting, and more to the point, breathing carbon fibre is the devils work.:crying:
  4. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Martin Clevinger did alot of experimenting with different pickup materials when he was on his quest for the coil-less pickup. The pickup system required frets that were not conductive. He tried hard lacquer, epoxies, hard plastics and even discussed the possibility of MGO coating (the stuff on electric stove burners). None of the stuff was really feasable though due to short lifespan or the inability to perform fretwork without ruining the finish.

    -paraphrased from "American Basses"
  5. excane

    excane Banned

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I'm sure it would look cool as hell if it could be accomplished. Possibly with LED's on the neck? That would just be sexy.
  6. If you have aluminum frets, you can dye it. But that takes a lot of chemicals.

  7. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    Yes, but as soon as you level them, you would grind off the color. Aluminum frets wouldn't last too long either.
  8. I thought of that after I posted.

  9. What about a Tenifer coating ala Glock? It's very hard...

    Like a Parkerized metal...

    This matte, non-glare finish meets or exceeds stainless steel specifications and is 85% more corrosion resistant than a hard chrome finish.
  10. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Strangely enough I just posted about this in another forum, but I have a bass with black delrin frets, that have lasted about 5.5 years with nickel strings without any visible rutting, flats, or other wear. They definitely exist.

    However, if you find that you don't like them, and they do sound very different (almost like a fretless), you cannot go back because they have a round bar tang, rather than the standard thing tang. So, you are milling out small channels rather than just sawing an incision.

    They do work very well, though. I'm trying to remember the company that makes them. I'll get a picture in the next few weeks, the next time I go home.
  11. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Here we go:

  12. interesting
  13. eleonn


    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    Ok ...I'll be the one who asks ...where do you get those from?
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    If my understanding is correct, it's not a "fretting supply" at all. It's 1/8" diameter black Delrin (acetyl copolymer) round rod, a standard engineering commodity. It would be available from a plastics supply house, such as serves the machine-building industry (and other industries).
  15. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    Using Delrin as frets? Jeeeeez... you gotta tell us how it sounds musically, cuz I can't imagine plastic frets resonating well, or even lasting very long.
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Please re-read Angus' posts. Your info is there, and it's from experience, not conjecture.

    As some background, it seems that delrin frets are not so uncommon on classical nylon-string guitars.
  17. Bryan316

    Bryan316 Banned

    Dec 20, 2006
    Missed that part of the description.

    5.5 years is quite a break-in demo period, I'd say! I guess I'd have to hear it myself to judge whether I'd like them.
  18. Muziekschuur


    May 25, 2009
    It's now 2012. How are the Delrin frets holding out on the Yamaha bass?
  19. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Actually, I sold the bass about a year and a half ago (maybe longer?) because I wasn't playing it enough. Huuuuuuuugely regret it and wish I could buy it back. It went to Hong Kong.

    I really, realllllllllllly miss the bass.

    The delrin frets had zero wear, though. I have a pretty light touch, though, so I go about 10+ years without refrets.

    I would do it again in a second, though. The feel takes some getting used to- they feel a bit "squishier" than metal frets, even if there is no real perceptible/quantifiable give. I've been thinking about having it done to another bass and a guitar sometime soon.

    I think Randy Parsons in Seattle is probably the only one doing it. I know TK Instruments does a similar procedure for metal bar frets that feel pretty cool.

    Thanks for reminding me how much I wish I had this bass still, though. :D I put a lot of work into it!!!