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Who has banjoe frets on thier axe?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by spindizzy, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    Recently I received a custom built bass that I took the plunged with and had banjoe frets installed. I think I love them yet there are several things happening that I am not sure which are natural to this type of fret and what might be symtoms of either poor fretwork or set-up. To make matters worse I also plunged into a bridge set-up, a massive wooden type that actually integrates into the bass body, that doesn't allow for the traditional adjustments one would find with the typical metal bridge.

    I am finding the action to be extremely low, which is part of what I wanted, and an almost fretless kind of string buzz so close to the fabled MWAAA of a fretless that the action and sound occasionally have me double checking the neck to make sure I am still playing on frets.

    My problem is that the buzz intensity varies from string to string, with the lighter strings a bit more than the heavier ones and a little variation depending on whether you are towards the nut or closer to the bridge. I am hoping that someone else out there has these on their bass and that maybe they experience a similar feeling as they adjusted both their ear and their technique to the smaller frets.

    Like I said I think I like it. I wish it was more even and if what I am experiencing doesn't jive with the experience others have had with these type of frets that would at least drive me to my local guitar tech for a more in depth look at the fret work.

    Just so you have all the info this is a seven string, 34" scale length Veillette MK-IV. Help from banjo fretters welcome. Ney sayers need not apply.
  2. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I have banjo frets on my bass. One thing about setting it up with very low action, is that the neck seems to prefer very little to ZERO relief in order to keep from buzzing too much. Also, some things might be helpfull to know.

    Does your bass have a radiused fingerboard, and does the string height match that radius? If possible, you might want to make sure that matches as much as possible. Also, you might try adding a bit of height to the higher strings, if they are the ones buzzing more. Those strings being more flexible than the lower ones, playing with a harder touch will cause them to buzz more. Try also playing with a bit lighter touch, and just turn your amp up a bit more to get the same overall volume.

    They arent for everyone, but sounds like you enjoy them as much as I do. I dont think I could go back to Jumbo's or even Mediums now....they feel like huge speedbumps.
  3. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    have some.. on my banjo.:p
  4. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    I have them in a jazz bass. The notes do swell or mwaw but I like the way it sits in the mix and takes some the sterileness out of the fretted bass and gives it a bit more organic warm sound when played finger style. Slap is just as with medium fretts. Much better feeling on the left hand.
  5. I've not heard them referred to as banjo frets, though; are there frets specifically made for banjo or are there just various sizes & profiles which can be installed in whatever(within reason)stringed instrument? I vaguely recall hearing a similar discussion on mandolin frets on one of Leland Sklar's basses. Don't mean to highjack; back on topic more or less: I've had no issues w/my smallish frets. Have you talked to the builder?
  6. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Don't these type of frets come standard on the USA Lakland 94 series?.... I think Dan worked with Leland Sklar regarding the very thin, small fretwire used on the 55-94. Quite frankly, I didn't really notice any difference in playability or sound. The Lakland's set-up and buzz free necks are legendary, but I never attributed that to the smaller frets. I've heard then called 'mandolin frets' also... is that the same thing?
  7. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    I also have 'em on my banjo. :D

    I've been considering going this route on a new bass. I really don't like the trend towards "jumbo frets" that I keep seeing. I much prefer the smaller fret style.
    Therefore, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread... *bookmarks*

  8. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Didn't Leland Sklar pioneer that movement on bass?
  9. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    I don't think you could say Leland Sklar started the trend, because all of the first basses and so on for many years had small frets. I don't know if it was for the same reason or simply because they are probably easier to make and Leo Fender didn't see a difference (seeing how as he wasn't a guitarist or a bassist he probably didn't realize the difference in "feel" when playing" :bag: )
    I use smaller frets to simply a woodier sound with a nicer feel bot things I want. I think the bigger frets is just another part of the more "modern bass sound" that many people are going for. But for me it adds to much brightness, I mean its more unnecesary metal being slapped on to a piece of wood...the more mettal the more metallic a sound. :)
  10. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
  11. i thought Will Lee did that too
  12. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Mandolin frets are typically considerably smaller than banjo frets.

    As far as mando frets go... I have them on my Dingwall 6 and my custom 8 and I find that they feel different, perhaps due to the fingers being that small amount closer to the fretboard. I prefer the way small frets feel.
  13. Not to highjack a thread but...

    Do banjo frets lose clarity and definition when playing fast (like math-metal fast)?
    How much does it cost?

    It actually sounds interresting...not that I could get it done anytime in the forseeable future..
  14. ArwinH

    ArwinH run rabbit run

    Dec 1, 2005
    Southern California
    He did it for a six month period after hearing that Lee sklar did it. Whenhe wore out the frets he changed back.
  15. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    They dont lose clarity at all.
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Count me in too.

    I have 'em on my main bass, will have them on my next one too.

    They're great.
  17. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I don't see how they could possibly lose clarity, and in practice they don't. Mandolin frets shouldn't cost any more than normal frets, the fretwire should cost about the same amount.
  18. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've got 'em too. Good 'ol Dingwalls!
  19. Micolao


    Sep 7, 2005
  20. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA