What size fret wire in terms of height came on vintage Tele's?

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by thefees, Mar 29, 2020.

  1. thefees

    thefees Tele-Holic

    Sep 8, 2010
    [​IMG] I looked for other posts on the subject, but no one seemed to have anything about an all original Tele pertaining to fret height. I know the old Gibson Les Pauls used to be called Fretless Wonders.
    Okay I have a 1966 Tele that I bought brand new back then, and still have. Measuring height with a digital caliper the fret wire comes in at .020" high. There are a few areas slightly worn that measure a little below that. I know they are originals because no one touched this guitar except for myself. As an aside were Stratocasters the same in terms of fret height?
    So here is the thing. Most everyone is into medium jumbo, or jumbo extra larges which measure .035" and .050" respectively. Then they put on at least 10 gauge strings so that way they can compress a note and tell where it stops on the top of the fret. Shredders especially like .050" frets so they can ride the top of the frets thereby sliding only on the fret. However if they squeeze the note all the way to the fretboard, they are bending the string thereby making the guitar out of tune. Combine that with higher action and the guitar can be way out of tune.
    Me I love the lowest frets. Many complain when doing bends that the surface of the neck especially rosewood will give them an uneven surface to do bends on. Early on I polished mine with #0000 steel wool and then treated it, so the surface is incredibly even and smooth. (Using the guitar breaking it in didn't hurt either)
    Eric Clapton had said he liked maple necks because they provided a very smooth surface to bend strings on. My hands sweat. So in the middle of a gig on a maple board the string would make its way out from under my fingers and give me a BONK in the middle of a solo; so the rosewood cured that.
    I tried to Google the subject of fret wire on Fender guitars hopefully going all the way back, but all I got was opinions, and nothing substantial.
    Does anyone know how tall the fret wires were and when on vintage Fender guitars?
    I don't know if this will work, but here is a photo of my 66 Tele with all original frets. You can see how small they are. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10219408370097580&set=p.10219408370097580&type=3&theater
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
  2. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 10, 2007
    Greetings from Sunny New Jersey
    Your link leads to "Page not found"...
  3. derekwarner

    derekwarner Tele-Meister

    Dec 25, 2015
    0.020" [as the nominal dimension] sounds a little low.........naturally the best location to gauge the fret height is across the 20th and 21st fret

    It is unlikely that serious player wear would have occurred here, and the width of "elcheapo" digital calipers allows each side of the body to be equally supported squarelybetween these 20th & 21st frets

    Checked my 70's build....and I find a consistent ~~0.034" on every fret.......quite a few years ago, I gauged the height of a 70's Stratocaster & the result was near identical......

    More recently I checked a newish ''Tele-something" & the result was 0.045".......very sharp fret wire & not pleasant to play....


    [I have found $20.00 "echeapo" calipers have the same stated +/- accuracy as the $137.00 Brandname callipers...and measuring one to the other provided an absolutely identical dimension]



    After reading the post listing by pcasarona below, I have checked & the fret wire on my 70's Tele is 0.085" wide....totally consistent


    Sizing from this listing suggests I have Series 6230 wire code [size] frets

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
    RodeoTex likes this.
  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Aug 30, 2011
    The original frets were about .045" when first installed in the board. Then they were slightly taken down during factory leveling, to probably around .035"–.040" or so.

    It was all hand work, so variations did exist. And from time to time, there were supply variations as well. But even so, .020" is almost certainly not the original height. That's fretless wonder territory. They have to have been leveled a time or two, or just played down over the 54 years, or there is an error in the measurement technique. Are you measuring between the two top frets, with the caliper resting on both of them?

    If you're going to replace them soon, Dunlop 6230 is the wire that will retain the original specs as closely as possible. It is spec'd at .079" wide by .043" tall. That said, any fret wire that has a width of about .075" to .085" retains the most important original dimension: the width. On a vintage guitar, you don't want to monkey with that dimension by more than .005". IMO. There are fret wires that wide that give you different starting heights – some taller, some shorter. Dunlop 6250 is .075" by .030", and 6240 is .078" x .037", if you want to go shorter. Jescar 50078 is .078" by .050", if you want to go taller (which it doesn't sound like you want to do).
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
  5. pcasarona

    pcasarona Tele-Holic

    Mar 27, 2013
    Auburn, AL
    From Fender's Custom Shop Order form:

    Fret Wire.JPG
    Wyzsard and old soul like this.
  6. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    Didn't a lot of '66 Fenders have factory larger frets? I know most of the P-basses from that year did.
  7. GuyR

    GuyR TDPRI Member

    Apr 22, 2017
    I had my 66 Tele refretted two years ago. The luthier, John Chapman in London, corresponded with Fender and got them to supply the correct fret wire. Very happy with the result.
  8. PCollen

    PCollen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 7, 2010
    Man of the World
    Just checked the fret height at the 21 fret on 2 MIA Strats ( '89 and '91), an MIM Tele ('14) and a '12 MIM CP50 all with medium Jumbo frets, and all read 0.05 inch tall.
  9. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

    Jun 13, 2019
    Land of Mary
    I don’t want to bring back an old thread and I have nothing to add but I’ve been looking at this chart for the last 5 minutes perplexed
    Is medium jumbo really wider and taller than jumbo?
  10. Kloun

    Kloun Tele-Meister

    Dec 16, 2018
    Orange County California
    I am not an expert, and barely literate, but the medium jumbo may have something to do with the tangs that go into the wood. It appears from the diagrams that vintage goes deeper than modern spec, so they may refer to it as "medium jumbo" because it is for a vintage board instead of calling it regular jumbo.
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