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Old January 22nd, 2009, 01:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fret Height - How low is too low...

I did a search and couldn't really find an answer. Probably because I'm guessing the answer is more of a personal preference thing. However, I would also assume there are actual indications of frets being too low?

Anyway, I just finished a level and crown on my 2000 MIA Tele (maple neck). It came out quite well - it seems like I did a pretty good job. However, to get out the divots and get them level, I had to take a decent amount off. They now measure approx. .032 high. It's a noticeable difference from where they were, so it feels a little "weird". When I'm chording, my fingers still don't really touch the fretboard, but they do a little when I'm bending. I've never really paid attention to that before - is that normal? Would .032 be considered really low, or is it still within an average range?

Maybe I just need to get used to the new "feel"...

Thanks for any help/info/opinions!

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Old January 22nd, 2009, 01:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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.032" is pretty low. My MIA has been leveled once, and they average around .043".

Of course, it's all "personal preference," as you say, but .032" is certainly on the low side of things. Some of the so-called "jumbo" frets used on Gibsons over the years, for example, are considered "wide & low" by many, at maybe .100"x.0375" or so.

The "Fretless Wonders" had narrow frets in the neighborhood of .030" high, and my fingers are dragging on the board most of the time with those. They tend to slow me down.

If you're asking because perhaps, somewhere down inside, you think they feel too low, keep in mind that they aren't supposed to last for ever. Not a huge undertaking to have it re-fretted.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 03:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Leger View Post
If you're asking because perhaps, somewhere down inside, you think they feel too low, keep in mind that they aren't supposed to last for ever. Not a huge undertaking to have it re-fretted.
Thanks, Chris - I appreciate the info. That's kind of how I feel (that somewhere down inside, they feel too low). I just really don't want to pay to have it refretted right now (as that is something beyond my ability to do myself). I guess I'll play it as is, and get a refret when I can afford it. Thanks again!
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 04:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OSdave View Post
Thanks, Chris - I appreciate the info. That's kind of how I feel (that somewhere down inside, they feel too low). I just really don't want to pay to have it refretted right now (as that is something beyond my ability to do myself). I guess I'll play it as is, and get a refret when I can afford it. Thanks again!

Yeah, that's the tough balance. I (historically) would try and cheat, to not really get rid of enough of the gouges, but unless you really erase the %^& thing, the string will find that trough and start digging in, rapidly enlarging the divot.

Now, you could "park" the neck and buy and use a USACG or Warmoth neck in its place. That's the decision I once made, simply because I could not ever see personally doing a good enough job myself on a refret. When I realized just how easy it was to finish out one of these jobbers, well, it is contagious.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 04:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I had a Fretless wonder LP Custom early 80s. I tried and tried to play that damn thing, but had it re-fretted with some medium frets. They where so low and flat all I could do was chord on it.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 04:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OSdave View Post
I did a search and couldn't really find an answer. Probably because I'm guessing the answer is more of a personal preference thing. However, I would also assume there are actual indications of frets being too low?

Anyway, I just finished a level and crown on my 2000 MIA Tele (maple neck). It came out quite well - it seems like I did a pretty good job. However, to get out the divots and get them level, I had to take a decent amount off. They now measure approx. .032 high. It's a noticeable difference from where they were, so it feels a little "weird". When I'm chording, my fingers still don't really touch the fretboard, but they do a little when I'm bending. I've never really paid attention to that before - is that normal? Would .032 be considered really low, or is it still within an average range?

Maybe I just need to get used to the new "feel"...

Thanks for any help/info/opinions!


If you did your own level and crown I think you wouldn't have a problem doing your own re-fret. After you remove the old and install the new, what's left? Level and crown. Go for it!
Also though aimed more at acoustic instruments, Frank Ford's site has a wealth of repair/maintainence info.http://frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.html
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 05:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks again for all the responses. Maybe I will consider trying to refret it myself. I'll check out the 'Frets' page and Rob's walk-thru...
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 06:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you can play it as is go right ahead and wait until you need to do it again. If not then consider a refret. Not bad to do yourself but I'm hearing something like $300 to have it done by someone else. For that I can buy 2 new Musikraft necks and some Deft.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 09:46 PM   #9 (permalink)

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I'm surprised your fingers don't touch the fretboard with such low frets.

I wouldn't suggest that a refret is such an easy job, though. Getting frets seated properly is an art, not a science, and even with the right tools you're not guaranteed to get it right. It's not totally impossible, but there is a pretty big learning curve. I practiced 4 times on cheap necks before I got to the point that I felt comfortable doing it on a guitar I cared about.
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