Jumbo Fret Wire vs. Medium vs. ...

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by zulujos, Feb 27, 2010.

  1. zulujos

    zulujos Tele-Meister

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    My experience with this issue is non-existent. Whatever came with the guitar. Up to this point I presume it's small fret wire, whether it was on my G&L Legacy, Gibson LP or Gretsch Annie. Now I'm looking at some of these builders of Tele Relics and some give you a choice of fret size. I play somewhat aggressively but don't want to take a chance of fret buzz for those times that I get, let us say, a little sloppy. I know a lot of folks go jumbo just because SRV did, but I'm no Stevie! So what's the consensus on fret size.
     
  2. stevesz

    stevesz Tele-Holic

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    My fingers aren't particularly long so I'm a big fan of medium jumbo frets. I have fewer mis-hits and play more confidently. I know a lot of people will say it helps with their speed but it gives me a little more surface to work with when I'm bending or adding vibrato to a note.
     
  3. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    You just have to try it. Bigger fret wire may work for you, or it may just be a pain. I also played only medium or smaller frets (not by choice; like you, I just played what the guitar came with) and recently built a guitar with a neck that had tall fret wire installed. It has taken a while to get used to, but the light touch it requires is a good learning experience. It helps me to break my death-grip left hand habits. However, if I had my choice I would not go with anything bigger than medium jumbo or smaller in the future.
     
  4. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

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    Try this.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    I've never made friends with the true jumbos — my touch is too heavy, even though I've worked on lightening up. I prefer the so-called medium jumbos partly because I like the width.
     
  6. rolijen

    rolijen Tele-Meister

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    +1 Medium Jumbos have a great combo of width and height. To me, the tall skinny frets impede my finger tips as I tend to slide into and out of notes a lot. Also, all vintage style frets are not the same. I have several Teles with vintage frets and one of them is a dream to play while I have to fight the others a bit. My 2¢.
     
  7. hal

    hal Tele-Afflicted

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    When I got my 68 it needed a fret job. The guy that helped me get it had a 69 Tele Custom with big fret wire. It was the best playing guitar I had ever picked up, so I got the same thing.

    Woodman is right--you can get used to anything. But for me the bigger wire makes bends easier. And countless hours and 20 plus years later, I still don't need a fret job.

    Good story--when I first played the my friend's 69 Custom he had it in his store. I plugged into an new amp that had just come in. It was the first re-issue Vibro King. About an hour later somebody spoke to me and asked if I planned to sit there and play all day or what. If you play for an hour straight and don't have any idea what is going on around you, the guitar and amp may be telling you something. I paid attention. I got a 68 Tele with big frets and I play through a 66 Deluxe.
     
  8. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Yeah, the big jumbos are like a bumpy road to me. The vintage, there's just not enough "there" there for me.
     
  9. JazzTwanger

    JazzTwanger Tele-Meister

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    Generally medium jumbo for me as well. I have a couple guitars that started with vintage style fretwire, and I eventually had both of them refretted because I found it made bending difficult and required too much finger pressure in general (in short, it hurt my fingers and slowed me down).

    I have a lighter touch, so I don't run into issues pressing the notes out of tune; I can see though how someone with a heavy-handed playing style would be driven nuts by jumbo wire. Then again, SRV had a pretty heavy-handed style and he played jumbo frets. So, at the end of the day, it's a player call.

    I would go into your local guitar shop (if you have one), and ask the staff which guitars have bigger wire, and which don't, so you can A/B comparison test. If it's a Fender dealer, try out the vintage reissue instruments (vintage wire) versus American Standard (medium jumbo).

    Just a note, on the G&L and the Gibson, you very likely had something bigger than vintage and closer to medium jumbo. I've owned both, and the frets were nice and big in both cases (not to say though that there isn't variation between models).
     
  10. GuitarPlayerFL

    GuitarPlayerFL TDPRI Member

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    I LOVE jumbo frets...if I could get bigger I would.

    My 1990 American Standard Tele came with a thin neck and smaller frets. It was very hard to play and the thin neck really cramped my hand. I broke the truss rod years ago and just recently bought a new 2009 Fender Highway One neck on Ebay.

    It now has a rosewood fingerboard (my fave) and a much thicker neck with jumbo frets. This guitar plays GREAT now. :D
    I can bend strings with ease and my fingers don't stick to the fingerboard any more.
    That is really easy to do in Florida when we play out doors in the Summer months.

    In fact, I plan to learn how to refret guitars.
     
  11. Hekim

    Hekim Tele-Meister

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    People forget that SRV was bending 13's though. He had to have a heavy hand. That being said, Med Jumbo are for me, and 9's (I'm a wimp).
     
  12. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

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    So jumbos are taller and wider than medium jumbos?

    What about some of those wide but low & flat frets you see on some older Gibsons? Would they give you the better sustain and playability without being so sensitive to finger pressure?
     
  13. cactusrob

    cactusrob Friend of Leo's

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    I'd like to read some experienced response on this as well.(if anybody's had this setup) Good question!
     
  14. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Depends on the wire used, but IIRC, the medium jumbos are widest except for the mongo "scalloped" type jumbos. Once the mediums are dressed and crowned a couple of times, they're a whole lot like those old Gibson frets.
     
  15. mohika

    mohika Tele-Meister

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    Leo got it right the first time.
    7.25 radius with skinny fret wire.
    Still my favorite combination,
    after playing hundreds of guitars
    in the last 50 years.
     
  16. BillyG

    BillyG Tele-Holic

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    The "Tall Thin" fret from Dunlop (6105) is extremely popular. Fender makes most of their "Thin-Skin" Strats and Teles with this wire from the factory. I've had my 1982 '52 reissue outfitted with 6105 for years and I love it. I've tried the true jumbo (6100) and didn't care for it. It's just too extreme for me.
     
  17. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have settled into 6105s, and my last neck I got w/ SS 6105 to boot.

    I still have a Tele with 6230, and find I need to be slightly more deliberate to not loose articulation. Also have some more jumbo on one Tele, and I just always liked that neck. Not too jumbo, but really been favoring the 6105 SS.

    I have played a few old Teles with gibson frets on them. I would not have thought jumbo and 7-1/4 radius would work together, but liked it actually. YMMV
     
  18. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Since I cant see and play totally by feel I gotta have frets that dont slow down my hand.

    Woodman described them as a bumpy road and I agree.

    Vintage frets are fine Gibson are fine they are low med jumbo are ok its the tall ones that get me.
     
  19. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Hmmm, more sustain? I can't directly compare, but I have experience now with several different sets of fret sizes. I can get used to them all... but...

    I had a 68 Gibson ES for a long, long time and it was my main guitar, for about 15 years or so. It had those nice wide flat Gibson frets. I also have a 69(ish) SG that has those wide flat frets. I love them.

    I have a cp50's Strat, Gretsch 5127 and had a Nashville Tele that have Medium Jumbos. I like them. I have no issue playing them. They are comfortable.

    I have a Roadworn 60's Strat. My ONLY complaint about the guitar is the vintage tall frets. I would much prefer vintage frets. I'm seriously thinking about buying the tools from StewMac and shaving them down.

    I recently purchased a Les Paul Traditional. I find myself playing it a lot and mostly because it has vintage height frets.

    Sustain? Well, the Les Paul has more sustain... but it probably would even if you were using foam frets. It's a sustain monster... but how often do I ever use sustain? about three times since I bought it and only goofing off. I don't think ti has anything to do with fret size.

    Playability? I'm used to shorter frets. I like 'em. I can slide better on vintage frets and don't get that bumpy note to note sound on 'em. Someone mentioned catching their fingertip... I feel exactly the same way with tall frets. I play Blues, I slide notes a lot. Can I do it on my Roadworn? Yeah, but it takes a little more concentration to make the slide smooth. But, other than that, I find almost no difference. On my CP Strat, I find less difference. Its a nice mid-ground.

    I guess I have a decently light touch (less so with chords, then single note runs). With my old Gibbies, I don't feel the fretboard at all. My Fender Acoustic that's 25 years old now finally has a little wear on the rosewood fretboard. But, not much. When I sold my 68 ES, there were no marks at all on the fretboard.

    Now, I don't play professionally, I don't even gig regularly, but I'll put in a few hours at a time without a thought. I've worn the frets off an old Fender guitar that I bought at the same time as the ES. Literally I had worn the frets down to the rosewood on it. And they were vintage size frets much taller than the Gibson.


    So, sadly, the bottom line is, you just gotta go play a few. I like smaller frets, but I'm in the minority I think...
     
  20. dburns

    dburns Friend of Leo's

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    There's so much discussion here about string gauges...believe me, no one (on the TDPRI at least) is allowed to forget that SRV was bending 13s :D

    I agree with those who view the huge frets as speed bumps...but I still play a guitar that has them. It took me a long time to get used to it.
     
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