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Fretwire Size


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I was just curious as to how different sized fretwire makes a difference iwth instruments? Obviously it'll feel slightly different... but with the 30 different varieties that stewmac offers how is one to really chose? Besides feel, what does fretwire size (hieght and width) affect?

Chris

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I have 9 sizes, and I don't even like the fact that I can have *that* many sizes.

I wish all the fret-wire companies would narrow down the variety of sizes.

Customers can't request something that isn't made, right ? (oh, I guess they would anyway)

Some of those low and flat sizes mainly get used for partial fret-jobs, where you are trying to match existing fret sizes.

You might also notice some wires have a deeper tang size than others.

Wider frets are supposed to resist wear longer, but I haven't seen proof of that.

You can get more of a "blurred" sounding note with wide frets that are left on the "flattish" side on top. Some want that effect.

Narrow frets can still retain a sharper contact area even with "quicky" fret-crowning methods, where not a whole lot of time is taken to get the fret profile perfectly round.

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I've got two (stewmac #148 and #149), might get some slightly bigger for more 'metal' guitars, or some slightly taller wire, and some smaller if I ever build the mando. This stuff's medium/medium and wide/medium, respectively.

Works fine for me, for acoustics and electrics.

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do they make jumbo banjo or mando frets?

yep..it's called guitar fret wire..ok, that sounded a little more smartassed than i intended but that's what i use when someone wants a little larger wire than is available..i've only done it to a couple of mandolins..never a banjo and i had to enlarge the fret slots just a bit but it worked out fine.

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Besides feel, what does fretwire size (hieght and width) affect?

Chris

Higher frets will make it easier to grab onto a string to bend it since the fingertip won't rub as hard on the fretboard wood. That's where the idea of scalloped fretboards comes in. But just like a scalloped fretboard, with higher frets, pressing too hard on the string will make the note go sharp.

Edited by Saber
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Gone are the days when you could buy a pound of StewMac's #147 fret-wire for $2.23 less than the price of a pound of their #148, and they are so close in size, it's ridiculous, with the 147 actually being better because it's ever so slightly taller.

They finally realized that, so now the 147 is only 42 cents less per pound than the 148. :D

Wow, what a super interesting 'fun fact' !

I can make it up, by showing you want my barb punching tool does to the tang on a fret:

http://files.photojerk.com/soapbarstrat/fret_crimper4061.jpg

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Here's a related question:

I'm thinking about getting one of these:

diamond fret file

Could I buy, say, the medium size file and use it on jumbo fretwire --that way I'd still have a pretty tall fret, but the rounded part at the top would be slightly narrower?

Probably not, but someone who's actually got one might be more helpful; if you try to crown with a too narrow file, you'll dig little parallel grooves into the fret where it's too wide for the file, if that makes sense. This is particularly true if you need to agressively recrown, say, after a major fret level.

At least, this is what happens with StewMac's 'regular' nut file.

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Yeah, I thought about the ridges thing --I'm wondering how much of a ridge it'd give?

The problem is, I'm willing to lay out for one of these files --seems like it'll make my life a whole lot easier. But at $55 for the file, I'm not going to buy two --and I'm still not completely sure which size fretwire I prefer.

It'll be useful to have the file in the long run though--I'm sure I'll end up building more than one guitar :D

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Yeah, I thought about the ridges thing --I'm wondering how much of a ridge it'd give?

The problem is, I'm willing to lay out for one of these files --seems like it'll make my life a whole lot easier. But at $55 for the file, I'm not going to buy two --and I'm still not completely sure which size fretwire I prefer.

It'll be useful to have the file in the long run though--I'm sure I'll end up building more than one guitar :D

While I'm slowly coming around to considering the diamond coated files, a medium/large combo file, regular flavour, what I have now, has lasted me a good dozen instruments and half dozen re-dresses or so, and shows no signs of wearing out. If I were pondering stainless steel wire, diamond coated would be a no-brainer.

Of course, you could go old-school, and do it all with triangle files, by hand. Ahem.

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Uh no. Ease of use is what I'm looking for here!

Since it's only $20 more for the diamond file, I figure I'll go for that. I'm also getting a fret leveler (not the diamond version). And I'll make my own bevel file thingamajig. That should set me up for fret tools :D

Now all I gotta do is get up the nerve to start building the neck itself :D (actually, I'm designing my headstock and figuring out the neck pocket/tenon design too)

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what about those tang nippers.... they have two a those things two, one from small and medium fretwire, one for large and jumbo..... but isn;'t that thing jsut messing with the tang, which can't be SO different between wire that you need a whole different tool?! Will the large/jumbo one really not work on small and medium wire, or vice versa??

Chris

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First, I want to tell you that I'm not the only one who found their levelers to be inferior to what they're advertised as being (in other words I'm not the only "pro" guy who had a StewMac leveler that was far from being ground totally flat)

Now, for the diamond crowning files, I went as far as I could go, to find out everything I could about them, without actually buying any, and what I found out, was that some users say they are all "over-sized". At least with those "dual grit" files, I was told that the "small" size actually works on medium frets, the "medium" size actually works on wide frets and the "wide" file is too damn wide for any frets on planet Earth.

I could say more about my discussions with StewMac about their diamond fret files, but at this point, I just have to keep my fingers crossed.

If you put a piece of small fret-wire into the tang notchers made for large fret-wire, the fret will probably "flop over" during the cut, or some kind of problem similar to that.

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First, I want to tell you that I'm not the only one who found their levelers to be inferior to what they're advertised as being (in other words I'm not the only "pro" guy who had a StewMac leveler that was far from being ground totally flat)

I'm still not quite sure I get the whole leveling process yet anyhow...I mean, what's the point of having a radius if you're going to flatten out the frets? (yeah, yeah, I know...I plan on doing a whole lot of reading before I start attacking the frets)

Now, for the diamond crowning files, I went as far as I could go, to find out everything I could about them, without actually buying any, and what I found out, was that some users say they are all "over-sized". At least with those "dual grit" files, I was told that the "small" size actually works on medium frets, the "medium" size actually works on wide frets and the "wide" file is too damn wide for any frets on planet Earth.

Hmm, that's good to know...what about the tools from LMI? Are they from the same as StewMac's?

At least I don't need the tang nippers...I don't mind seeing the end of the frets, and I don't like bound fingerboards anyhoo.

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I'm still not quite sure I get the whole leveling process yet anyhow...I mean, what's the point of having a radius if you're going to flatten out the frets? (yeah, yeah, I know...I plan on doing a whole lot of reading before I start attacking the frets)

Um, two seperate issues; the levelling is about getting the board level longitudinally, which is easily done with a flat something. Same as a radius can quite effectively be creaded by a flat-bottomed plane. Ideally, you're removing a really, really tiny amount of metal (unless you're recrowning very, very ded frets), evenly along the entire width of the thing, so the radius remains unchanged. Then you recrown to give the flattened fret tops a nice rounded top once again.

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As far as I know, StewMac is the only source for *diamond* fret crowning files. Haven't checked out what LMI has new in the way of tools lately, but I'd be glad if they were to come out with their own version of diamond crowning files. I want more sizes of those suckers to be available. I'm hoping that by the time I get back from Germany, there will be more sizes of the diamond files.

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that looks exactly like the blue plastic backed diamond hone I bought from harbor freight, only mine was a set of 3 that size (fine, medium, coarse) for how much ? (I'm trying to remember. Probably $6.00 on sale--only buy HF tools when on half price sale).

Let me tell you something, if it's like mine, you'll be up a certain kind of creek without a paddle if you try to level frets with that. It's not flat enough. When I need mine to be flat, I have to clamp it against something flat, which I do quite a lot (grind Floyd bridge saddle bottoms on it).

Damn, the more I see these jacked up price chinese tool outfits on ebay, with 100% positive feedback, it makes me want to stop doing repairs and just sell stuff like that instead.

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I don't mean that I'm interested in selling crap to people, I just mean I would like better compensation for my efforts, but I rarely get that. Like I got an email from a customer ending with " Hope all is well and am enjoying your work immensely ! " and then I write back saying " hey, would you be interested in writing a testimonial for me to put on my website ?" and I get no reply.

I just looked at my HF diamond hones again. I'm 100% sure they're the same as in those ebay listings. The red one is especially non-flat. Yellow one is pretty good, the blue one is clamped to the edge of my bench but I know from the past it wasn't very flat.

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