Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Bar frets

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SD
    Posts
    3,017

    Default Bar frets

    Might seem like a silly question but I am curious why aren't bar frets used anymore? Seems, in my mind, they would be easier to make, with all these laser cutting machines, in various thicknesses and heights and easier to install. I have not worked with bar frets so my first-hand experience with them is limited.
    Thanks!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Check out the blog at hazeguitars.com, which tells all - or probably all. Obviously a lot more work, more skill, and more danger to the instrument since, lacking tangs or barbs, they are held in by compression only. ‘Modern’ machining doesn’t help with something that doesn’t seat on the fretboard either; each slot will have different depth so substantial leveling is necessary. Any virtues? Let someone else comment on that.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Richard500 For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    14,963

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    ...Any virtues?...
    None.
    Much harder to install, much harder to get good feeling frets, just more problematic in general.
    We have the technology to make and install "T" frets so why would we want to use archaic bar frets without a good reason?
    I've worked with bar frets enough to feel competent working with them, but the amount of work is bordering on ridiculous compared to T frets.

    If there is an advantage it might be the very slight advantage of being able to have frets of varying heights. Early Martin guitars had frets that were higher toward the nut and lower toward the body. Being able to mill those frets lower toward the nut was a way of delaying the first neck reset. To me, that is certainly not enough of an advantage to warrant using bar frets.

    As for those individuals who claim a difference in sound, they'll have to show me supporting evidence from at least one double blind listening test.

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to sunburst For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,004

    Default Re: Bar frets

    The only advantage to bar frets was compression fretting. Martin had frets a few thousands wider and it would straighten the neck when using a thicker fret. I refretted my '28 2-17 with the next size wider that I happened to have purchased from Martin 20 years or so ago when they sold out. It leveled the neck perfectly without doing anything else. The rest of the fret job, as John says, not as easy. I know there are T frets of varying tang thicknesses, but since it had bar frets and I had the right ones I decided to keep it original.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  7. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:


  8. #5
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    2,184

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Bar frets are archaic technology. Although Martin, always stubborn to change in the old days, did not discontinue bar frets until 1934, they are 19th century technology.

    The biggest advantage of bar frets is that they add some stiffness to a neck, but that effect is far greater on guitars than it is on mandolins.
    And yes, compression refretting really works with bar frets, while its effectiveness with T frets is debatable at best.

    The biggest disadvantage is that installing them takes at least 3 times more labor time than a standard T-fret job. Levelling and crowning bar frets takes hours of filing, and few people do it well. I think most people give up before they get a really smooth crown due to sore muscles. You have to file, file, and file some more; then put the work aside for a day, and then pick up your tools and start filing again.

    For those who want to try it, the back of the fret can be barbed with a cold chisel to get a tight seat in the fret slots.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-28-2021 at 12:33pm.

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SD
    Posts
    3,017

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Interesting, I had to wonder because with the advent of pork and CNC I thought maybe it might be more viable. I do like the feel of the bar frets in my old Vega but I don’t dislike the frets in my Old Wave. I guess maybe it is more a preference for tall and narrow and maybe not so much bar and t. Thanks everyone.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  11. #7

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Pork?
    That’s much older than mandolins, I’m told.

  12. The following members say thank you to Richard500 for this post:


  13. #8
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SD
    Posts
    3,017

    Default Re: Bar frets

    I didn’t catch that it was supposed to be plec!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  14. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Posts
    1,121

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    The only advantage to bar frets was compression fretting. Martin had frets a few thousands wider and it would straighten the neck when using a thicker fret. I refretted my '28 2-17 with the next size wider that I happened to have purchased from Martin 20 years or so ago when they sold out. It leveled the neck perfectly without doing anything else. The rest of the fret job, as John says, not as easy. I know there are T frets of varying tang thicknesses, but since it had bar frets and I had the right ones I decided to keep it original.
    You can use a wider tang and get the same advantages for compression fretting. My understanding is that this is how Martin did it after they gave up bar frets.

    I have bar frets on my only mandolin. When it is time for a refret I will put a new board on and fret with T frets.

  15. #10
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    2,186

    Default Re: Bar frets

    #^@& bar frets!!!!

  16. The following members say thank you to j. condino for this post:


  17. #11
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,889

    Default Re: Bar frets

    The only advantage of bar frets I can see is that they can be manufactured easier. Just cutting them from sheet. Everything else is well behind T-frets. SInce there are big manufacturers provide us with wide range of T-wire there's no need to revive use of bar frets.
    The biggest advantages of T is that if you properly install them on perfectly prepared fingerboard there is no real need for any levelling (mostly just to check the final surface). They all sit on the same surface and are same height. They also cover the slots and any damage or worn places after refrets are hidden... And you can easily undercut the ends over binding... try that on bar frets!
    Adrian

  18. The following members say thank you to HoGo for this post:


  19. #12
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    14,963

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    ...And you can easily undercut the ends over binding... try that on bar frets!
    I have and it is a pita, but It's not really that bad, especially compared to leveling the frets!
    Many old Martin guitars with fingerboard binding had bar frets trimmed to fit over the binding, so when re-fretting such guitars we have to trim the ends of the frets.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	frets.jpg 
Views:	39 
Size:	100.4 KB 
ID:	192417

  20. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Bar frets

    For some odd reason—I am truly not sure why—the Luigi Embergher shop used bar frets on their instruments for the life of the shop into the 1950s even (under his disciples). Perhaps it was their traditional way to do it or just stubbornness.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  21. #14
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    14,963

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ...Perhaps it was their traditional way to do it or just stubbornness.
    Both, I'd guess.

  22. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    DeKalb, IL
    Posts
    3,560

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Tradition! Now get off my lawn.

  23. The following members say thank you to Dale Ludewig for this post:


  24. #16

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Sometimes when you have those six, thousand-foot coils of brass in the back room from 1922, you’re gonna keep using them.
    What I don’t get is who got the idea to leave the wine down cellar for more than a month or two?

  25. #17
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    2,184

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Well, I'll work on 'em. But don't expect a rush job or a bargain price.

  26. The following members say thank you to rcc56 for this post:


  27. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Posts
    1,121

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Sometimes when you have those six, thousand-foot coils of brass in the back room from 1922, you’re gonna keep using them.
    What I don’t get is who got the idea to leave the wine down cellar for more than a month or two?
    Totally off topic but being in the wine business: They made the wine for the year and noticed that the wine at the end tasted better. When they had a surplus and held it longer, it tasted better still.

    Now back to mandolins.

  28. #19
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    2,186

    Default Re: Bar frets

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Well, I'll work on 'em. But don't expect a rush job or a bargain price.
    Best thing I've read here in a while!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •