Fret size

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pjbasser, Dec 12, 2003.

  1. pjbasser


    Sep 26, 2003
    Hi there bassplayers!

    I´m about to refret my bass and is curious about what size of the fret I should use...

    What´s ur opinion? The bass in question is a 4-string Blade/Levinson jb-copy..

    If I may be so rude..what does mr Sadowsky use on his basses?

    Jaco rules! :)

  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    What type of frets to use and what size, etc. really depend on your personal preference and playing style. Personally, I LOVE small frets and dislike large/tall/wide frets. I can't stand fret noise and would prefer not to feel anything grating under my fingers as I move up and down the neck. Jazz basses from the early '60s (which I like) had relatively small frets. Some guys even like mandolin frets, which are slightly smaller than vintage Fender fretwire. The Nordstrand NJ4 that I'm currently having build (see Carey's updates on his current batch of basses) will have mandolin frets.

    Those who like large frets...big honkin' fat ones, are usually slappers. The larger surface area of the fret makes it easier to slap and increased size/matter tends to transmit more highs back into the bass. Also, if you play really aggressively, a larger fret will last longer, but for normal wear and tear, refretting is not a big issue....frets should last you a LONG time.

    Your fret choice will depend on what style of music you predominately play and what kind of a feel your looking for. Also, stainless steel frets are starting to catch on in popularity, so there's another factor for you to consider. Good luck with your research! :D
  3. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Actually Jay,
    Your order says banjo frets, which are a bit bigger than mandolin frets. Still small, like vintage, but not microscopic like mandolin frets. Mandolin frets are a pain in the ass to install. I charge extra because if this. The bass does seem to play faster because it takes so little effort to hold the sting against the fret and you can feel the wood beneath the string. I like small frets, but they're not for everybody. I recommend you go to a store and try some different basses noting the size of the wire and how you like or dislike it.
    Good luck!

    PS. Stainless frets are not yet available to mere mortal builders as far as I know. You have to pay A LOT to get a custom run of wire made. Warmoth, Suhr, and Anderson (Parker doesn't count, his wire is half round with no tang) are the only builders I know of that have stainless wire and I don't think any of them will sell it either.
  4. JPJ, excellent post. This has to be the most informed post I have read in a very long time!

    Thank you for the info.

  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    My error! :eek: Looks like someone needs to go back to Country Music 101. I actually have the specs right on my website, so I evidently was on the right track at some point! :D Thanks for the correction, and your advice about playing basses with different size frets is right on. If you don't have a lot of experience in this area, you'd be surprised at how much of a difference fret size can make. Get out there and play those basses, pjbasser. :bassist:
  6. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    I had Carey install some banjo wire on my Imperial (that I have since sold! :p ) and it was excellent! I loved the way they felt. I should have him redo my Garrison...

    Carey I swear I'm gonna buy a bass from you one day! Your work is great.
  7. pjbasser


    Sep 26, 2003
    Yeah, thanks a lot for ur very informative reply´s here !
    I´m leaning towards some smaller size too, pretty tired of the "standard-jumbo".
    Was just curious about ur opinion´s here and now I know some more...:)

    Dig this forum!

  8. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Excellent thread!!

    JPJ - Curious about your statement that slapping is easier with larger frets. Any idea why that would be the case? My guess is that the string strikes the fret wire sooner. On the other hand, it would seem that it would limit how low you could set the action.

    If I were to have another custom built I'd consider getting mandolin frets to minimize fret buzz from slapping, but it sounds like I might be barking up the wrong tree.


  9. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Hey James,
    We're kinda' talking about generalities here (as there has been many a great slapper do his/her business on a bass with a smaller fret size...vintage/mandolin/banjo frets), but a larger fret give you more surface area to slap against, not to mention the tonal "slap"
    benefits of the added mass of the larger fret.