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Brass fretwire for bass? And fret slot question....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by roberthabraken, Apr 20, 2009.


  1. I've got two questions. I am looking to put brass fretwire on my bass, because of the color (it would match the gold hardware very nice), but some people say it is softer than nickel-silver and maybe not suitable for a bass. What do you guys think? I am in doubt between Dunlop 6180 (brass) and Dunlop 6150 (silver-nickel).

    The other question is about the 'flexibility' of fretwire. My slots are not perfectly cut straight downwards :scowl: and I am curious to know if the frets will go in anyway and can be hammered nice and flush with the fretboard or if they will open up to one side.. if you know what I mean. I made a (somewhat exaggerated) drawing of a side view of a skewed slot:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. I think some warwicks use brass...
     
  3. GeneralElectric

    GeneralElectric

    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    Some warwicks do use brass, at least most that I've seen.
     
  4. vbasscustom

    vbasscustom

    Sep 8, 2008
    no, the wire should be fine, if you hammer it in, and visually check every fret, it should be fine. if any are really off, you should be able to bend the tang sideways a little bit, with flat fronted pliers, needle nose wont work.
     
  5. Thanks! That reassures me a bit..
     
  6. When youre done, you can always take the board off it you dont like it! :)
     
  7. Uh :eyebrow: ... Sorry but I don't seem to understand what you mean.. it's glued on with Titebond.. so that's pretty permanent I guess..
     
  8. Evo gold fretwire looks like brass, and is a little harder than nickel-silver. Beware as the tangs on the Evo wire sit up a little higher than most other wire (so don't over-bevel the slots).

    I would think about straightening out those slots (without making the top of the slot wider) and gluing your frets in with CA.
     
  9. kalle74

    kalle74

    Aug 27, 2004
    warwick frets are not brass but bell-bronze. looks similar to brass, but it´s quite a bit harder... I think you can get warwick fretwire aftermarket. at least they can be refretted... ask the importer or builders...
     
  10. yeah, I guess that's my second option. I'll first try to get them in the way the are right now. Thanks for the advice!

    So I guess everyone's saying the brass one is softer, so I'll probably go with the 6150. I don't want to pay and search a lot for Warwick aftermarket fretwire and I don't want to have harder wire than the nickel ones, because my slots are hand cut and need a little bit more flexibility from the wire..
     
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Erik, have you ever seen any indication as to what "Evo gold" actually is?
     
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Brass can be anywhere in a large range of hard to soft.

    "Bell bronze" is a brass ("bronze" implies but does not require that there be tin in the alloy).

    Nickel-silver is also a brass.
     
  13. That's an eye opener.. guess there's only one way to find out.. and that's to try it.. but I took a good look at my guitar (jazz box), which has gold hardware too and the frets are nickel-silver, which doesn't look bad at all. So I'll go with the safest option.
     
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    It is a copper alloy in bronze.
     
  15. Can you recreate the slightly skewed slots in a piece of scrap and hammer in three or four test frets in that before doing the real thing? ? If it turns out that there actually would be a problem getting the frets seated all the way, it would be far better not to have to pull frets out of your new fingerboard and risk pulling chips with them. Of all the things I practised on scrap first (and all the things I wish I had), fretting was one of the things I was happiest about having done.
     
  16. vbasscustom

    vbasscustom

    Sep 8, 2008
    man, fretting is the best part, sitting down in a nice room, with a cup of tea and biscuits, listening to some jazz, and tappin in frets all afternoon, so good, so good
     
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Just to be clear- I wasn't saying that all peoples' claims about its properties are not true. Just saying that you might need to distinguish between opinions from people who have actually used it themselves, and people who might form an opinion based on the names like "brass" or "bronze," since the terms are broad and ambiguous. I haven't used it.

    For the record:
    "brass" is a family of alloys primarily of copper and zinc, plus other things - but not always
    "bronze" is a family of alloys primarily of copper and tin, plus other things - but not always
    "nickel silver" is an alloy primarily of copper and nickel and zinc, plus other things - most of the time IME
    "cupronickel" is an alloy primarily of copper and nickel, plus other things
    There are also "silicon bronze," "phosphor bronze," "aluminum bronze," "monel," and many others. Copper combines with many things, and recipes are made to provide desired material, processing, and cost charcteristics.

    On top of this, these materials are available in conditions known as dead soft or annealed, 1/4 hard, half hard, and hard (or full hard), with different properties in each case, on top of the alloy itself.
     
  18. Thanks for this hint! I am soo going to do it like this! :cool:

    Well, the way you describe this job it sounds really relaxing. Hope I get that experience too :smug:.

    Thanks. This answer is very thoroughly. I can't say it makes it less difficult, but it sure cleared up things. Maybe I had too ask if anyone used Dunlop 6180 wire :p.
     
  19. PJ I believe the Evo has a smaller amount of nickel than typical "nickel-silver" - but I don't know it's exact composition. I have some here for a build, and it does seem to take more effort to scratch it than typical nickel-silver.
     
  20. vbasscustom

    vbasscustom

    Sep 8, 2008
    yeah, just take your time with it, be careful, and enjoy it. i got this great tip from the carl thompson videos that were posted here before. you cut the frets too long, which you do anyway, but if your glueing them in, you put a rubber band around both ends, and under the neck to hold it down.
     

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