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nickel frets?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rockbassist1087, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. rockbassist1087

    rockbassist1087 Guest

    Nov 29, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    I was recently at the Sam Ash in NYC and I decided to play one of the 4 string Czech made Spectors. Pretty cool bass. I wanted to check out its slap tone, so I started to slap on it. I wasn't slapping hard, just a normal slap and one of the guys who worked there got pretty angry at me and said, " You can slap on this bass! It has nickel frets; if you slap on it, you'll ruin the frets." I thought this was kind of weird, I never heard that before. Is this true?...you're not supposed to slap on a bass that has nickel frets?
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    AFAIK, 95 % of basses on the market have nickel or silver/nickel frets.
    Stainless steel and brass are pretty uncommon.
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Correction here, guys. 95% (or probably closer to 99%) of all fretted instruments have frets made of an alloy which is called nickel silver. Although it is called "nickel silver," and it looks colorless instead of yellow, it is actually an alloy of brass. It is made up of 65% copper, 17% zinc, and 18% nickel. It is the standard fret material.

    Stainless frets are available, but are rare.
    Warwick uses a different yellow brass which they call "bell brass" (which is not AFAIK a specific term referring to a particular common alloy).
    Warmoth is now offering frets out of some gold-colored metal, but it is not identified.

    I have never heard of nickel frets, nor of Czech Spectors having unusual frets, nor of any prohibition regarding slapping on Spectors, so that salesman most likely has his head up his Sam Ash.
  4. bwbass


    May 6, 2002
    Our gold-colored fretwire is purported to be nickel-silver without the nickel, although it looks too yellow to be just copper and zinc... Our supplier has been a little fuzzy with us on this, but I'll try to get a better answer.

    We do also have stainless steel frets available. I wonder if the Sam Ash guy just didn't want you tearing the bass up, with slapping being the most noticeable way of doing this. It sure _sounds_ like you're hurting it! :)
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Actually, that composition sounds about right for it to be a more standard (and more yellow) brass. Most of the brasses are about 2/3 copper and 1/3 zinc, with a few other things added in some of the alloys. Nickel silver is essentially a standard brass, but with half of the normal amount of zinc being substituted by nickel.

    Thanks for the info, Brian.
  6. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    everytime i go to an instrument store i see bassists slapping on the basses there... i slap like crap so i'm too embarrassed to do it but i would think that slapping on the bass is like a pianist doing the fun slide on the keyboard...