1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Fret Size - Does Size Matter

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jawbone, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Jawbone


    Jul 15, 2010
    Humboldt County
    I noticed Fender and maybe other crafters offers varying degrees of fret size or at least different models come with different sizes. Just curious what the different size accomplishes. Are jumbos better than regular? When you order a CS model can you specify size? Is one preferred over another? Maybe this should be in a different sub forum?
  2. JeffVanter


    Sep 23, 2012
    I personally always have gone for the jumbo size. I love room and big basses. I've never cared for the short scale basses with either medium or small fret sizes.
  3. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Size can matter when it comes to frets. It's a preference thing, neither is better or worse.
  4. oerk


    Oct 16, 2009
    Depends on your preference and playing style.

    I actually prefer medium size, but don't mind jumbo frets. It's not a big deal.
  5. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    A trade-off between speed and string-bending, according to a guitarist friend. Taller frets make it easier to bend notes as, if you think about it, the fretted string is further off the board and so you meet less resistance pushing it up or down.

    Conversely, smaller frets allow you to play faster, as fretting each note requires less force from your fingers.
  6. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I'm not sure that I agree with that AuntieBeeb. You obviously have to push the string down onto the fret - but once the string meets the top of the fret what then?

    As long as you are putting sufficient downward pressure on the string to make the note sound cleanly (and that's a lot less pressure than most people actually use) it doesn't matter what size the fret is. Pressing harder is just a wasted effort. The only thing you might notice is that if you have high frets it is possible to bend the note sharp with excessive pressure, but only if you're using a vulcan death grip on the neck.

    I have several basses that all seem to use different fret sizes (some of them Jumbo sized and some basses that don't have any frets at all). After thinking about it a bit I have to say I prefer smaller frets that just give enough scope for a bit of vibrato, but no bigger than they need to be to perform their function.

    And whoever it was ^^^ up there who mentioned some sort of link between scale length and fret sizes? That doesn't figure at all - there are basses with almighty scale lengths and small fretwire, just as there are short scale basses with jumbo frets
  7. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    I was never bothered about this until i sated playing Lakland basses. They use banjo frets i believe. Now i tend to go for the smaller vintage style frets. This was a big plus and pushed me towards the Squier CV line a few years ago.
    Compared to my Fender Jazz (at the time) i found the CV jazz to be more of a pleasure to play (fret).
  8. I dunno what mandolin frets would feel like on a bass, but I sure as hell would like to try a Dingwall to find out. I'm just as curious about the frets as I am about 'em bein' fanned.
  9. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    I'n not sure this makes any sense at all.

    This sounds better. I prefer smaller frets, but can't really tie the preference to anything in terms of tone or playability. I think I remember Billy Sheehan saying he used smaller frets higher on the neck of his Attitudes for better intonation. I also remember him saying it was just a theory and he wasn't really sure it mattered, but it at least didn't hurt anything.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Think about this: if you can feel an 1/4" difference at the nut or 2mm in string spacing at the bridge, don't you think you should be able to feel the difference between fret sizes?

    Smaller frets wear faster (assuming the same material) but intonate better.

    Larger frets make for easier bends with less fretting out.

    In general for the fastest action you want low, small frets. Consider this: the ideal fret in a physics sense would be zero width and near-zero height with infinite mass.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    How many of you bend bass strings? I don't, except for just a wee bit once ina blue moon, certainly not enough to "fret out" like on a guitar. I don't understand why manufacturers started putting taller frets on basses unless it's to cater to something going on in modern technique. But, that's not fair to everyone else, IMO. I prefer small frets. Why? They just feel better to me. I don't feel any space under them, and they play more fluently, IMO. I wish like hell my MIA Jazz had small frets like my old Jazz Bass Special. I also like 7.25" radius, but that's another discussion.
  12. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    What does 'fretting out' mean? And why does there seem to be a consensus here that small frets facilitate bending? You bend the string sideways relative to the fretboard, right? Not by pushing down on the strin with a vulcan death grip as that one dude called it. So unless we're talking about fret length, as in fretboard width, how does fretsize factor into bending?
  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    What is a standard size fret on basses?
  14. octaverazor


    Jun 3, 2009
    Houma, LA
    When people talk about bigger frets being easier to bend, they are talking about height. Not width. Being able to get the meat of your finger under the string. BTW I hate small vintage frets.
  15. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I prefer low wide frets. No frets is cool too. I don't much care for tiny little frets though.
  16. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Oh that actually makes sense i guess. Never really thought about that.

    Now that i did; does it really matter on bass though? I can imagine it being a problem on guitar, what with the skinny strings, but i'd think the thickness of the actual bass string itself would give you enough purchase to bend, right?
  17. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Action is measured from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret, however, and people don't push the string all the way down to the fretboard. Why does it matter the distance from the top of the fret to the board?
  18. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    Quite a lot, actually...I get called on to solo quite a bit and play a lot of blues-based stuff. Not bending strings to the same extent as, say, David Gilmour, but a lot of semitone bends here and there.
  19. conqr


    Feb 16, 2009
    More finger meat around the string with higher frets - check. But again, different frets just means different nut and setup, NOT some universally higher or lower action - that's just illogical and wrong.
  20. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member


    Smaller frets wear faster (assuming the same material) but intonate better.


    Wear faster? The same material? You'll have to explain better your meaning.

    Edit. You mean they run out of re -shapable material and will need replacing when jumbo frets could still be reshaped, correct? Whew I nearly spit my coffee across the room. Carry on.