All About Guitar Frets

All About Guitar Frets

When discussing guitar frets at the Haywire Custom Shop, the discussion really needs to be divided up into two separate parts.  The first question to consider is whether or not your guitar frets are properly installed, dressed, leveled, and crowned properly.  The second part to consider is if the frets that are on your neck are the right guitar frets to match your style of playing and have a great feel that for you.

Therefore, the real question to be investigated and most noteworthy, is whether or not your guitar frets are properly installed, dressed, and leveled to your specs.  Especially relevant, check for any deep ruts on the frets where the strings might have created grooves in certain places, any nicks or irregularities that might catch a string, sharp edges and any uncomfortable feel and so forth.  Finding any of those, you may want to consider some repair to correct those problems. If not the it seems like you need to look elsewhere.

Cause And Effect

Have you checked your frets and found them to be in good condition without any noticeable wear?  Still think that your neck doesn’t feel just right for your style of playing hence, you might want to find a neck with better frets, re-fret your guitar or buy a new neck.  Guitar frets come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, therefore each one will feel just a bit different under your fingers. The lesson here is that guitar frets do matter. If a guitar plays well, it seems like it has the right frets for the player.  If it’s hard to bend a note, that instrument probably doesn’t have the right frets for the player and he needs to investigate the problem more thoroughly.

Now because we understand typical problems with “feel” finally, let’s see the different types of guitar frets that are available.

Standard Nickel/Silver Fret Wire

Guitar Frets at haywire Custom Guitars https://www.haywirecustomguitars.com/re-fretting/

Guitar Frets at haywire Custom Guitars https://www.haywirecustomguitars.com/re-fretting/

The composition of this fret wire, while called “nickel/silver”, contains no silver at all.  The ingredients are brass and nickel. Apparently, 18% nickel is sufficient to make brass look silver!  For general reference let’s use Dunlop’s fret numbers, however, actual fret dimensions vary somewhat from batch to batch.

Fret Size And Width x Height  Description

6100       .112″ x 0.55″       Huge! This is big stuff for the almost scalloped feel.

6105       .096″ x 0.47″      Narrow and tall. A very popular choice.

6130       .106″ x .036″      Often referred to as “medium jumbo”. This is the size found on many Gibson® necks.

6230       .080″ x 0.43″       This is the smallest fret wire. Used on older Fender® necks.

6150       .103 x .046″         A true “jumbo”. It is about the same width as the 6130 but a bit taller.

Stainless Steel Fret Wire

If you want an extra slick feel along with super smooth bending and playability, stainless steel fret wire might be just what you’re looking for. Stainless steel is harder than the standard nickel/silver fret wire, so it takes much longer for these frets to show wear from your strings, and typically last much longer than standard fret wire.

Fret Model        Width x Height  Description

SS6105  .102″ x .049″        A true “jumbo”. It is about the same width as the 6130 but a bit taller. POPULAR!

SS6230  .080″ x 0.43″     Small vintage Fender® size. Needs frequent dressing and leveling

SS6115  .107″ x .052″     A true “jumbo” wire.

Almost Gold Color Fret Wire

New Gold colored fret wire is a tough copper alloy without Nickel and the color is similar to 12k Gold in appearance. This is not the same brass color as Warwick wire. This is not just a “plating”.  The color is solid throughout. It’s very rich looking wire. Gold alloy wire works and wears about the same as the standard nickel / silver fret wire.

Fret        Width x Height  Description

61GD     .090″ x .055″       Narrow and quite tall. Fret Model  Width x Height

Fret        Width x Height  Description

61GD     .090″ x .055″       Narrow and quite tall. Fret Model  Width x Height

Thank you Warmoth Guitar Products Inc. for providing the fret info!

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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