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Bar Frets


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Sorry I really don't know how I double posted!

Martin used to use a rectangular cross section on their frets rather than the usual t section. So the frets sit in a wuch wider slot. To my mind this should sound pretty good and stiffen the neck if you cut the slots right.

I haven't found any pictures anywhere that really show what i mean so I thought I'd ask.

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I can't for the life of me imagine anyone in a double-blind test noticing an improvement in tone. As for stiffness, I wouldn't imagine an appreciable difference there, either; and I'm picturing actually a weakening of the neck rather than a stiffening... unless I'm imagining the depth of the slot all wrong. If it's a shallow little slot, there might be some improvement in stiffness, I guess.

It's not one of those factors I would really consider very deeply as part of the tone equation. I'd think most luthiers would only deviate from the norm for the sake of doing some sort of authentic repro, for nostalgia, or because they prefer cutting that kind of slot for one reason or another.

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The only time Ive seen bar frets it was in pics of old restorations or re-fret jobs, I believe it was on Frank Fords site frets.com -Not something for me though, I'll go out on a limb here and speak for everyone and advise you to use commom frets. -Vinny

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Well one of the main reasons for them was to stiffen the neck before adjustable truss rods and can actually used to put a back bow on the neck prior to strings. I'm not sure about the slot depths that's half the reason i posted.

And as for tone surely the same agruments can apply to most things on a guitar by increasing the surface area (and the mass) of the fret in contact with the neck it will make a difference just like materials and construction of the bridge do at the other end?

I fully admit it may not make much difference but nothing ventured nothing gained!

But anyones views are welcome it's just hypothetical at this point but i do have an old strat copy neck lying around......

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Well one of the main reasons for them was to stiffen the neck before adjustable truss rods and can actually used to put a back bow on the neck prior to strings. I'm not sure about the slot depths that's half the reason i posted.

And as for tone surely the same agruments can apply to most things on a guitar by increasing the surface area (and the mass) of the fret in contact with the neck it will make a difference just like materials and construction of the bridge do at the other end?

I fully admit it may not make much difference but nothing ventured nothing gained!

But anyones views are welcome it's just hypothetical at this point but i do have an old strat copy neck lying around......

Hi Josh, and welcome, I suggest reading up on what a fret's job is. A wider contact area is actually not desired. The reason for crowning frets is to minmize that contact area, The same same is ideal at the nut, you want to make the string slot ramp angle a bit steeper than the string angle coming off the tuning peg. So your string contacts the nut right at the exit point where it comes out over the fingerboard. This will eliminate dead notes. -Vinny

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Hi Josh, and welcome, I suggest reading up on what a fret's job is. A wider contact area is actually not desired. The reason for crowning frets is to minmize that contact area, The same same is ideal at the nut, you want to make the string slot ramp angle a bit steeper than the string angle coming off the tuning peg. So your string contacts the nut right at the exit point where it comes out over the fingerboard. This will eliminate dead notes. -Vinny

Thanks for the welcome. I guess i wasn't very clear the surface area increase was referring to the connection with the neck the the fret profile above the board would be identical to the usual fret profile. From what little information i've found on the subject i think the main issue is the extra work in fitting them!

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I've never seen them, I've obviously never used them, but have read a little on them. From my reading they seem to be a pain in the butt to install compared to standard frets. The bar frets were used before te technology was available to make modern frets with consistency and in bulk quantities. The reason no one uses bar frets anymore, is because they don't do anything better than a standard fret does except create more work.

You can add back bow with standard frets just as easily. The best luthiers at fretwork are masters at this. It is a ratio of the slot size to the tang size. But the type of wood, and the condition of the wood and neck come into play. The masters at fretwork know how to read the neck and can even take a neck with soft spots and use a different sized tang to make the neck do what they want. It is not uncommon on an old neck to have the frets replaced and end up with two or three sizes of tangs used to keep the neck flat if the luthier truly knows how to do a refret.

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I have a 1930 Martin that I refretted some time ago. It has bar frets. (the fingerboard needed attention so the frets had to come out) They are about 1/16" deep into the fingerboard. Also, from Martin they were glued into slots larger than the fret itself. Not much of course, but still wider. One thing about them is that they never need crowning... They came flat on top and were something like .033" wide. I had to reuse the original frets because Martin no longer makes that exact size.

As far as strengthening or weakening a neck, I'd say that's speculation. One thing for sure is that a well respected guitar company used them for many years. I'm no historian or anything but I'd venture a guess and say frets like we have today were not invented yet.

Like anything else, if you choose the bar fret route, as long as they are properly installed and leveled they should be fine. You might ask yourself is the effort worth it? Seems like they'd have to be fairly thick or they might otherwise turn into little razor blades should you slide a finger down a worn edge. :D

-Doug

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Frank Ford refretting bar frets:

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/Te...5barfrets1.html

Some great info there (as always with Frank Ford)

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Thanks for the link don't know how I missed that on his site!

Hmm i was thinking about doing it with out the binding and leaving the ends exposed with a straight bottomed slot.

I'd make the frets out of stainless steel.

Still think i might try it i think it would look pretty smart with a neck i have in the pipe line!

Edited by joshvegas
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If someone gets hold of the neck they stole my guitar and they are welcome to a very expensive re-fret!

As they have already been used on some very very fine acoustics I can't see how it's a crap shoot to be honest!

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Sorry for assuming you won't live forever.

Crap shoot :

Different scale length, neck wood, etc etc etc, from the "fine acoustics".

It's been said that 1/2 the reason for using bar frets is to keep a non adjustable neck straight, and the other half is for the tone.

Well, you are not going to get the same tone on a strat neck as on an acoustic, so that's certainly crap-shoot territory.

Edited by soapbarstrat
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There's a reason that bar frets fell out of favour as soon as an alternative was available...

Modern frets actually have more surface area in contact with the neck, since they have the area of the tang, and the overhanging faces of the fret where it extends over the fretboard. They are more securely anchored, since the barbs grip the fretslot, and they are easier to crown and level, since there is less material to remove, and the t-shape makes it much easier to seat them all to the same height.

Bar frets have very little to commend them, and are only appropriate to replace existing bar frets on historic instruments.

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I guess I'll think it over some more before i decide.

Thanks for the help and opinions everyone.

I'll post my latest guitar project when I figure out where I left my camera!

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