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Thread: Fret Size

  1. #26
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    I assume the 0.080" wide wire became popular in the past because of extended lifespan. The traditional narrow bead wire develops grooves pretty quickly if you hit hard (can anyone say bluegrass?). It now has become widely accepted and is stock on many high end instruments. To my ear, it does have a meatier, less delicate tone which is fine for the way I play. I agree with John that around 0.060" would be a nice compromise.

    EVO, of course, has changed all this. It is remarkable how little wear accumulates. I'm in process on putting it on the eighth instrument and am only now considering new nippers and fret end file. Diamond crowning files can't seem to tell the difference. Try that with stainless! On my next personal instrument I'm strongly considering Sunburst's idea of 0.080" wire for the first octave and 0.053" for everything above the 12th (in EVO of course).
    This is for Sunburst.

    Do you still consider this an option using Jescar 37080 up to the 12th fret and then 37053 thereafter. Have you done this on your current mandolins?
    Nic Gellie

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    This is for Sunburst.

    Do you still consider this an option using Jescar 37080 up to the 12th fret and then 37053 thereafter. Have you done this on your current mandolins?
    The only thing I see is the .053 is .039 tall and the .080 is .043 tall so you would have to file down the .080 to match the .053.

    I have been thinking of doing the same thing. Or I may simply do all .053 as I don't mind the small frets.
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  3. #28
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    This is for Sunburst.

    Do you still consider this an option using Jescar 37080 up to the 12th fret and then 37053 thereafter. Have you done this on your current mandolins?
    I don't remember that last time I did frets with smaller ones in the upper positions, but there's no reason not to. The thing is, there is no particularly compelling reason to use different fret sizes other than aesthetics. I'll probably do it from time to time, maybe not all the time.

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  5. #29
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    The two Jescar sizes are available here:

    0.080"

    https://www.philadelphialuthiertools...nickel-silver/

    and here

    0.053"

    https://www.philadelphialuthiertools...straight-only/

    So the two can go together. I am going to try it our on my next mandolin build.
    Last edited by Nick Gellie; Jan-20-2021 at 4:03pm.
    Nic Gellie

  6. #30
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    I seem to remember a luthier on this forum who set up a fingerboard with relatively wide frets up to the7th fret or so, with narrower frets in the upper register.

  7. #31
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    The only thing I see is the .053 is .039 tall and the .080 is .043 tall so you would have to file down the .080 to match the .053.

    I have been thinking of doing the same thing. Or I may simply do all .053 as I don't mind the small frets.
    I've done this a few times, and I never saw any compelling reason to file the higher wire down to exactly match the lower wire. .004" difference is chicken feed and the instrument will play very well without grinding the higher wire down.

    The only thing I would do differently on such a job is to go up to the 15th fret with the bigger wire instead of the 12th. That's just a personal preference, though.

  8. #32
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I've done this a few times, and I never saw any compelling reason to file the higher wire down to exactly match the lower wire. .004" difference is chicken feed and the instrument will play very well without grinding the higher wire down.

    The only thing I would do differently on such a job is to go up to the 15th fret with the bigger wire instead of the 12th. That's just a personal preference, though.
    Interesting point. Does it look aesthetically better?
    Nic Gellie

  9. #33
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Habit, mostly; developed when I was doing multiple fret jobs for a well known professional who liked it that way.
    I did get used to the look of it.

    Playing wise, I think I like the feel of the larger frets going up to 15 or 17, depending on the mandolin. I do go up there and get a few notes from time to time.

    I've experimented with different things on my own instruments. In the past, I used to go all the way up to 20 with the 80 x 40 and often left the originals in place from 21 to 24. On the last one, I went all the way up with 53 x 39, except for 23, which I replaced with a maple purfling strip ground flush so I can go up and get a clear high E if I want to.

    On the next one, I'm leaning towards going up to 20 with 80 x 40 and putting the maple strips at both 21 and 23. I'm back and forth about whether to use the 53 or the 80 for frets 22 and 24.

    An advantage of being able to do the work myself is that if I don't like the way something turns out, I have the option of changing it. But so far, I haven't changed anything on any of my own jobs. Sooner or later, I will have to replace a few first position frets due to wear. But everything else will probably be left alone.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jan-21-2021 at 12:10pm.

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  11. #34
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fret Size

    Jescar makes a stainless fret wire that is the same size as the old style, FW39040. https://www.jescarguitar.com/wp-cont...02/FW39040.pdf

    I have a really fine '23 A2 that's been redone with this fret wire and I really love it. So much so that I had the Stiver Fern redone with the same size wire. So far I have the Gilchrist done with stainless steel .080 x .043 which is the same as the Weber Fern.

    With the smaller wire I find the action more precise and the sound as well. I've been circling between mandolins with the two sizes, (wide and narrow) and would say this about the two sizes. The wider fret wire is more forgiving with finger placement, the narrower will buzz a bit if I'm off a tad. The sound of the bigger fret is blurrier where the narrow fret is clear. The narrow wire feels really good to me and produces a fuller sound overall.

    These are not gigantic measures, but rather subtle - it still sounds like a mandolin!

    Billy
    Billy Packard
    Gilchrist A3, 1993
    Stiver Fern, 1990
    Weber Fern, 2007
    Gibson F4 Hybrid #1, D. Harvey 2009
    Gibson 1923 A2
    Numerous wonderful guitars

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