Fret height concerns

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by StevesBoogie, Jun 26, 2020 at 12:11 AM.

  1. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, schmee....I agree about the change in terminology. I have been around this stuff for a long time....a wide fret is a jumbo for me no matter the height. In that, I agree with the Fender terminology in that link. They do not call the 6105 a jumbo because it has a width of .090” whereas all,of the jumbos have a width over .100”...with three different heights. It is hard to argue with that.
    Warmoth’s charts break it down the same way...anything over .100” wide is a jumbo regardless of height.

    https://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/FretSizePop.aspx
     
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  2. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I am a fanatic about fretting technique. Many people play with incorrect technique...using too much pressure on the string. With taller frets, the error of bad technique is more evident than on lower frets because the strings can be pressed further out of tune with tall frets. The same is true with scalloped fretboards, fwiw. I once set up a Vietnamese guitar with the most radical scallop you can imagine. When the fellow picked it up, I asked him to play some for me. Beautiful music dealing in microtonal pitch changes dealt with by finger pressure.
    Proper fretting technique demands the lightest finger pressure possible....this can be evidenced. It is not an option if one wants to play in tune. Tall frets and scalloped fretboards more drastically reveal the errors, so players are immediately faced with adapting to this. Some do not like this...but it can be one of the best lessons ever learned. i consider a lesson on correct fretting technique to be th em OT’s important lesson one can learn as it affects everything...intonation, tone, sustain, and physical comfort. Imho, the lesson is worth more than all of the guitars one will ever buy. Without proper fretting technique, a guitar will NOY yield accurate intonation good tune or string sustain.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020 at 7:09 PM
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  3. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Meister

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    Completely agree and this is without even playing a guitar with .040 fret height. My EJ Strat with .036 is definitely preferable than the .055 on the Tele but I can see myself happier with slightly higher than the .036 - anywhere from .040 to .044.

    I really am grateful for all of the great responses.

    I am going to see what the luthier in town has to say first. I think it's a great idea to try a poster's suggestion of a 'pro Level & Crown' job to see if perhaps it is the shape of the frets and not necessarily the height, but I am suspecting the height is still a factor.

    I definitely understand and respect the angle of changing my approach to a lighter touch and fingering. But I simply like how I end up playing the EJ Strat with lower frets, I think its a combination of the feel of the lower frets, and the feel of having a slightly more aggressive style to fingering and maneuvering on the fretboard. It's a style that I don't have to think about, it's just a more natural feel for me.

    So, on another note....the local luthier is booked more than 30 days out! Apparently business is good even during a pandemic. But it makes sense, I'm sure 'inside' activities are logically exploding, thus requiring even more the expertise of guitar techs and such.
     
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  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I can play...rather poorly...on any fret as long as it is not so low that my finger contacts the fretboard. If I did not bend, then even the contact with the fretboard would not bother me.
     
  5. kingvox

    kingvox Tele-Meister

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    I've done many 'fret lowering' jobs, and it's completely appropriate to do when you're not happy with the fret height. On my own guitars I'd usually take them down from .057" to .050". These days I seem to have a better tolerance for tall frets and .057" no longer bothers me. Preferences can change over time. Who knows why.

    I have a lot of experience with fretwork as well as playing. Fret height is critical, and everyone's preferences vary. I'd go over pricing with your tech. Depending on how much he would charge for doing the level, it may be worth it to have it re-fretted with wire that you know you love, and either in stainless steel or EVO gold.

    Harder fretwire is better for lower profile frets because, being lower, they're not gonna be able to stand up to as many level and recrowns. If it's a fretwire you know you're gonna love, and you lock it in with harder wire that will last for many, many years, it's a win-win.

    Obviously the only issue is the expense. There's nothing wrong with lowering frets to a more manageable height through a simple level and recrown. From experience, I'd say go with .042" - .045". You'll notice a huge difference, but you're not going to the point of no return. That leaves room for future leveling and recrowning, and will absolutely change the feel of your guitar for the better (given that you prefer lower frets).

    In my opinion .036" is too low. The recrowning file can struggle to crown the frets when they're that height, and if you start getting wear on the frets and they need to be leveled and recrowned later on down the road, you may have to settle for them not being perfectly crowned.

    I'd do .036" for someone if that's what they really wanted, but if the frets were .055", I'd seriously try to talk them into re-fretting with smaller wire, and going with stainless or EVO gold. But that's just me, because that amount of recrowning is truly an insane amount of work, and personally I'd feel better using harder wire if I was going to have frets that low, to minimize the necessity of future leveling/recrowning as much as possible.

    Jescar 37080 comes in nickel silver, stainless, and EVO gold. It's .080" x .037." The upgrade to stainless or EVO gold is something worth thinking about.

    https://www.jescarguitar.com/fret-wire-specifications/

    Lots of unique sizes there. Worth looking into. For being in love with a neck, I always feel that upgrading to harder fretwire is a worthwhile investment. I don't know how other techs price things, but I don't just go by blue-book value, and if a level and recrown goes very quick and I only have to do a minimum of work, I'll charge less. With harder fretwire, the wear tends to be much less extreme, and much easier to level and recrown as a result.

    But even if other techs just charge the same rate no matter what, harder wire has to be leveled and recrowned much less frequently, so even though the upfront cost of a refret is more, you may end up saving money over the lifetime of the instrument.
     
  6. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    I had a Musikraft neck with 0.055 tall stainless steel frets (I was new at this and went with what they labelled "a great all purpose fret"). Bugged the heck out of me and I had my tech take them down to 0.046. It was a pain to take stainless steel down that much, but at $110, still cheaper than a refret. It made all the difference.

    You should be able to have a tech take them down to around 0.045 and let you feel what its like before doing the final crown and polish, etc. Then you can decide if you'd like to take it down further. I think you may regret going below 0.040, especially if you do bends and pulloffs. And there is no way to add it back.
     
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