I can't fret a bass to save my life

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by patrickj, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    argh, need to vent. Worked all day on this (started about 11am, it's now almost 2am)

    Basically, I think the fretwire I'm using is too big or something. Slotting isn't a problem, installing and even dressing the frets seems to be ok, but when the neck is actually ready to be played it feel like jumbo oversized as$-board.

    What size fretwire is typical for bass and where do you all get your wire (you people who do this for fun, not a living)? I've been using the " EWC4215" wire from exoticwoods.com, but I'm thinking that maybe I should try something else. The frets just feel too large, too round, too much pressure is needed to fret a note, and things are generally extremely 'off' (can't of a better word).

    I've never been pleased with any bass I've ever fretted and this latest is extremely frustrating. I usually pull all of the frets out later and fill in the board, but I'd really like to try to figure out what i'm doing wrong.

    Anyone mind taking a look at that page and seeing if the dimensions of the wire seem ok?


    Much [frustrated] thanks...
  2. After you've leveled and crowned the frets, what height are you getting? StewMac considers "high" fretwork anything over .045". Your fretwire starts off at .055 and can loose up to .01 in crowning. That would still keep you in the high fret range. Perhaps just choosing a different fretwire is all that's needed.
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    The pressure needed to fret a note is dependent on the string tension, and how high the action is. In other words, you probably shouldn't be pressing the string down until it hits wood anyway, so it shouldn't matter how high the frets are in that respect.
  4. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    What have you done for setup work? Your nut may be too tall, your bridge might be too high, any number of other factors may play into your feel. Is your fretboard level? Are your frets level? There is so much information that is missing here, it's hard to get a read on where the problem might lie. The fretwire you're using seems hella wide, but not overly tall...are you levelling/crowning your frets after the install, or just stringing up and seeing what it feels like? If you haven't leveled them and haven't crowned them, start there. Check your finished height, if it's over .045, it's tall enough that I wouldn't like playing it either. I also favor a narrower fret...
  5. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    You used the words "hella wide".....
    I thought only people in the Bay Area of California used the word "hella", but you just proved that point wrong. :eyebrow:
  6. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I did spend my formative years (high school and the next seven years) in Southern California, does that count?
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I use the Stew-Mac 149 fretwire most of the time. I used 154 at one time and never had a big problem with fret height. I agree with the others that the culprit is potentially something else; maybe your nut slots are too high?