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Can we talk about frets? Help me understand.

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by jackinjax, May 29, 2017.

  1. jackinjax

    jackinjax Friend of Leo's

    Sep 11, 2016
    Jacksonville
    I just copied the segment below from Fender's website. It came from an article talking about which guitar to choose, Strat or Tele; the differences.
    It says: "Narrow-tall frets are taller and narrower than their medium jumbo cousins, making them especially effective for bending notes and playing chords up the neck with perfect intonation."

    Okay, I'm far from an authority since I rarely know what I'm talking about, but that statement doesn't make sense to me.
    I buy that "narrow-tall frets" would make string bending easier, but, I would think that the taller the fret, the sharper the notes as you press your finger, thereby, the string, down to the fretboard. Am I wrong?
    I see the fret as a fulcrum, and the taller the fulcrum the more downward the travel is allowed. That equals more tension on the string. The more tension, the sharper the note.
    Please, set me straight.
     

  2. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    21
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    If your pressing down on a string hard enough that it touches the fingerboard, then you're doing it way too hard or you have ridiculously worn down frets. So does height really affect how sharp the note goes, the string will come to the same height below the fret since it's the strings tension resisting the finger not the fingerboard physically.

    Narrow-tall frets are considered better for the above because you have more purchase on the string to push it across the fingerboard and it should intonate better because the tips of the frets are sharper. Although a traditional fingerboard has terrible intonation and the fret location accuracy needs addressing before considering precision. My gut feeling is if you prefer medium jumbo over narrow-tall (or anything else) then you will find bending easier on medium jumbo frets.
     
    jimash and jackinjax like this.

  3. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Or vintage frets?

    What some call getting under the string, I'd add. Being a player that bends a lot, I personally find talker frets more conducive. And since getting some stainless 6105 frets, being more 'slipery', even more so. For my paws anyway..
     

  4. jackinjax

    jackinjax Friend of Leo's

    Sep 11, 2016
    Jacksonville
    Finger pressure is something I've been working on, albeit with marginal success; big, ugly calluses. I played acoustic for decades before ever picking up an electric.

    I'm still having trouble with the term the writer used, "perfect intonation". There's no such thing as perfect intonation on every string and every fret. Only the slightest variance in string position will effect its pitch. So, it seems to me that taller, narrow frets or even flattened frets would, however slightly, effect that string's pitch. Not "not perfect intonation".
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017

  5. Spacemanspiff500

    Spacemanspiff500 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    44
    73
    Aug 12, 2016
    Highland, ca
    The taller frets are so you don't have to press as hard. Think of a scalloped fret board. As the extreme example of what tall frets do. Your probably not going to see this on a fender but the general idea is shredder guitar have jumbo frets and flatter radius fret board for faster playing of scales. While the tighter radius and smaller gets make chords easier.
     

  6. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    940
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    Marketing BS IMHO. Frets are frets. Players are affected in terms of feel and little else. It is very difficult to play notes sharp from just the downward pressure when fretting them IMHO. Also, intonation isn't affected by fret size or height. It is affected by string length.
     
    magicfingers99 likes this.

  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    .

    Do a search on scalloped fretboards. Which is interesting as you don't want to press hard enough on the string to be bending below the line of the fretboard anyway. Especially high notes way up the fretboard you need a light touch, and the players who use them tend to be the shreddy metal folks.

    I used to try to get 'medium jumbo' because I figured they would wear longer before needing a refret. I have since switched to stainless steel and always select medium as is they are faster to level/crown/polish and the wear will be much longer.

    .
     
    Peckhammer and jackinjax like this.

  8. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2013
    NYC
    Short frets work better with my kung-fu grip. I suppose I could try to develop a lighter touch...

    Nah, that ain't gonna happen.
     
    aerhed and Ricky D. like this.

  9. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Portland, OR
    Use a scalloped neck for a while. You WILL lighten your touch. Only time I prefer vintage frets...
     
    Tel E Twister likes this.

  10. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    21
    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    That was my point traditional fingerboards don't have perfect intonation, having a sharper point to fret the string on could improve how precise you could get the note but what's the point if you're nowhere near the required spot.
     

  11. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    940
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    If you want better intonation on a 25.5" scale instrument I suggest an Earvana shelf nut. Feel free to debate the merits, but I like them.
     

  12. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    694
    Dec 22, 2010
    Atlanta
    Have you ever tried this while your guitar is hooked up to a chromatic tuner? It's actually quite easy to make a note go sharp from fretting pressure. You can even get a certain type of micro-vibrato just by varying fretting pressure. It's part of the reason I can't play 8s. When the adrenaline gets pumping I tend to fret all my chords sharp on 8s. Even with 9s I have this problem somewhat. 10-52s seem to be the right balance for me.

    But even if you don't get a bit enthusiastic like I do, the point is, unless you've got "fretless wonder" type frets, it's quite easy to fret things sharp with too much fretting pressure. As much as 1/10 step based on reading my tuner, which is more than enough to make a chord or double stop with an open string sound sour.

    Now, as others have said, the solution is to work on fretting pressure, if you're fretting hard enough to make things go sharp you're using too much pressure and need to work on having a lighter touch.

    I like narrow-tall frets better than medium jumbos because I feel like I get more consistent tone with them, and fewer accidental fret hand mutes.
     
    Wrong-Note Rod and jackinjax like this.

  13. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    940
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    I use 12's. I also have a fairly light touch. I am much more apt to fret sharp bending notes while chording than with downward pressure. Either way, I can control it by listening to what I am doing.
     

  14. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    66
    Oct 22, 2006
    Garner, North Carolina
    Have you ever played a guitar with tall frets? I have a Squier Std. Tele with "medium jumbo" frets, and I can barely play in tune. I've been playing vintage fret Fenders for 40 years, now I have to try to start over.
     

  15. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    940
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    Why start over? Why not have a guitar that you like to play?

    I have several guitars with higher frets. My sweet spot are frets at .050" tall.
     

  16. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Ad Free + Supporter

    Age:
    62
    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    A question for those that may have seen both:

    Are these narrow/tall frets on the new Fenders the same as the narrow/tall frets on some Allparts necks?
     

  17. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    694
    Dec 22, 2010
    Atlanta
    I haven't played both next to one another back to back, but I have played both at different times and they seem the same going off memory. I have narrow/tall Fender on my Tele, fwiw.
     
    dkmw likes this.

  18. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Ad Free + Supporter

    Age:
    62
    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    Thanks, I knew I liked the frets on my Allparts Fats but now I feel much better about them if they're good enough for the new Fenders!
     

  19. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    694
    Dec 22, 2010
    Atlanta
    I don't know if this is just a story, but supposedly Fender decided to put narrow/tall on more of their own new guitars a year or two ago based on how popular they had become on allparts necks.

    It's interesting to watch the fret size flavor of choice flip flop through the years. In the 50s it was narrow/talls, in the 70s it was shorts, 80s it was jumbos in the 90s medium jumbos, in the 2000s regular mediums, in the late 2010s it's shifting back to narrow tall.
     

  20. Rich B in Tempe

    Rich B in Tempe Tele-Holic

    Age:
    64
    570
    Apr 20, 2016
    Tempe Arizona
    If one wishes to play a guitar in tune, one must really learn to be even with your string pressue, because when your fretting a note, not only are you shortining the string, but also bending it a tad. Very small frets do certainly play in tune better, but larger frets are much more comfortable to play for some players. Guitar is certainly a challange for some folks to play in tune- thats what tempered tuning is all about!
     

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