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Fret sizes?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by hujo, May 6, 2001.

  1. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I read all the time about the size of different manufacturers frets. There's jumbo, medium, low, low-wide, and on like that. What difference does it make in sound and playabilty? Why do most people seem to like large frets?
  2. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    Welcome to TalkBass, hujo.
    Ok... here goes:

    Larger frets generally sound better. Most people it seems like smaller frets though, you'll more commonly find people talking about a bass with 24 frets, than a bass that has 21 (or around there).

    And if both are on a 34" scale bass, obviously the one with 24's gonna have smaller frets.

    It's all subjective. I think that larger frets are better... I think they just get a better tone, and are easier to reach for me. Whenever I play my Longhorn (24 fret, 30") I always reach too many frets over 'cause the frets are like baby frets.

    Just my 2 cents.
  3. oo0o00o0oo


    Apr 30, 2000
    I think he means differences in fret wire?
  4. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Yes he does.
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    :::: Emily LaTella voice on ::::
    "Oh. That's different. Never mind."
    :::: Emily LaTella voice off ::::
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member


    OK, hujo, and now for the real differences.

    Jumbo frets are popular for 3 reasons. First, thye wear longer, second, they can be dressed more times before replacement due to having more material to work with, and third, they make string bending a little easier. Yes, I know that's something that mostly gu*tar*sts do, but amazingly enough, there are bassists who bend too.

    The disadvantage of big fretwire is that intonation is not as exact, due to the large contact area with the string. This can be partially remedied by dressing a skinnier witness point onto the crown, but will result in quicker fret wear.

    Some people like very narrow frets, such as mandolin frets for the accuracy in intonation that they offer, but you pretty much have to replace them rather than dressing them, and they wear out quicker than jumbos as well.

    Of course, to do away with intonation problems and refrets altogether you could develop a good ear and go fretless.;)
  7. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Probably 90% of basses have jumbos. It's hard to find one that doesn't have jumbos, and even harder to find one's with smalls. Laklands, for example, have tiny frets, IIRC.

    Of course, there are actually about 20 or more sizes of fret wire.
  8. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Thanks for the info on scale-lenght, but also thanks for the real info. But i'd still like to know; do the size of the frets affect the sound?
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    hujo, IME fret sizes can affect playability and intonation, but do not affect the sound much, if at all.

    Different fret materials(like Warwick's bell brass frets) can affect the tone, but IMHO size does not.
  10. frets make a big difference for me. I love smaller frets because they allow me to achieve more speed and give me less noise to worry about. I have better intonation too, but...as my grandfather says, "whatever floats your boat"

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