What Fret options ???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kkrenzke, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. kkrenzke


    Dec 26, 2001
    Midland, MI
    I'm getting ready to order my first custom bass. What does everyone feel the advantages and disadvantages are for either thE Jumbo Frets oR the other end of the scale- the low wide frets ???

    This is the ONLY option that I'm unsure of and any and all feedback is a HUGE BOTTOME END HELP
  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferance. I like ultra-small vintage frets because I like a vintage vibe, and am most inspired by the same set-ups as the players who inspired me played 30+ years ago....get it? However, from a more objective point of view, smaller frets often go hand-in-hand with slightly higher action. The higher the action, the truer the tone and more accurate the intonation. By having higher action, the bass player better "within inself", and you don't have so much of the klickety-klack noise of the string slamming against fret...although there is a greater distance between fret and unfretted string, the frets are smaller and the noise is not as great.
    The potential problem is that once a bass is played heavily for decaded with steel strings, the frets can become worn and/or pitted. This isn't a big deal, but starting with a small fret gives you less to work with as far as re-leveling and crowning the frets. This is really the only significant objective advantage of going with a larger fret. You don't really NEED a larger fret to play, except that the action may be perceived as being lower since there is less room between the bottom of the string and the top of the higher fret. Basically, starting with more fret mass makes it easier to redo the frets several decades down the line shoujld it be necessary.
    Of course, the problem of frets wearing out can be mitigated by using nickel-plated strings, flatwound strings, not playing the bass as hard or as often (less wear and tear on the bass) or selling the bass before those problems arise. Needless to say, I've seen basses that are decades old that have had the crap played out of them that had no problems. Therefore, the bottom line is that your decision should probably come back to what feels good to you and what fits your playing style. If you're a slapper/popper, then the larger frets may enable you to do this easier. If you're a retro guy, or someone who is a busy fingerstyle player, the smaller frets may do the job better.