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

thefees

Tele-Holic
Joined
Sep 8, 2010
Posts
878
Location
PA-US
photo.php
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:

derekwarner

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 25, 2015
Posts
277
Age
73
Location
Australia
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....

Derek

PS.....1.
[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]

P1180572.JPG



PS.....2.

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



PS....3

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

P1180573.JPG
 
Last edited:

EsquireOK

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Posts
5,967
Location
U.S.A.
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:

Antoon

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 10, 2010
Posts
1,773
Location
LowLands
Didn't a lot of '66 Fenders have factory larger frets? I know most of the P-basses from that year did.
 

GuyR

TDPRI Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2017
Posts
29
Age
57
Location
London
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.
 

PCollen

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 7, 2010
Posts
4,335
Location
Space Coast, FL
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.
 

Kloun

Tele-Holic
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Posts
592
Location
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.
 

thefees

Tele-Holic
Joined
Sep 8, 2010
Posts
878
Location
PA-US
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).
Please read my original post. I've owned this guitar since brand new when I took it out of the store in 1966. I'm 72 years old, and bought in when I was 16. The frets measure .020" all over the neck, except in a few wear spots where they are even lower e.g. .016". I love the guitar just the way it is. I use 8 gauge Ernie Balls and the fly. Today people are going for huge frets, that when you squeeze a string all the way to the fretboard they are playing out of tune guitars. Of course with super heavy gauge strings it is easier to determine where the tops of the frets are, and only play down to that. There is no need to squeeze the strings all the way down.
 

EsquireOK

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Posts
5,967
Location
U.S.A.
Please read my original post. I've owned this guitar since brand new when I took it out of the store in 1966. I'm 72 years old, and bought in when I was 16. The frets measure .020" all over the neck, except in a few wear spots where they are even lower e.g. .016". I love the guitar just the way it is. I use 8 gauge Ernie Balls and the fly. Today people are going for huge frets, that when you squeeze a string all the way to the fretboard they are playing out of tune guitars. Of course with super heavy gauge strings it is easier to determine where the tops of the frets are, and only play down to that. There is no need to squeeze the strings all the way down.

I read your post quite thoroughly. I assume that if indeed the frets have never been leveled, then you aren't measuring correctly with your calipers. The fact that you didn't answer my specific question about your measurement technique, or provide any photos of the frets in question, only reinforces this belief.

I like low frets too...but that's quite irrelevant here. You have made a highly questionable claim, and haven't supported it with anything aside from a statement from 50+ years of human memory – one of the least reliable sources I can imagine.

Not even fretless wonder wire was .020" when new.
 

Hodgo88

Tele-Holic
Ad Free Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Posts
524
Location
Eastern Oregon
Two years for a retort!

.020" is smaller than any fretwire I've ever seen or heard of, heck, that's smaller than most fret slots are wide. The tang of most fretwire is ~.020, fret saws usually have a kerf in that range (StewMac and Jescar specify a .023" fret slot width). If you're adamant that you measured correctly, either you have had those frets severely worn down or levelled. If you put a wound G or D string parallel to your frets, the strings would be taller!

Regardless, you won't find a direct replacement for .020 height frets, and you won't find anyone claiming that's a vintage Fender spec. The closest thing available is Saga FW-10 at .028, or Dunlop 6320 at .029, both intended for vintage mandolin/banjo.

Any of the shorter fretwires in the more common .038-.040 range, such as Dunlop 6230, 6130, or Jescar 37080 or 40080 will get you closer to what Fender specifies as their vintage size, and I can personally attest that 6230 absolutely has that "grabbing the fretboard" feel you're looking for.
 

msalama

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Posts
1,494
Location
EUnistan
Vintage Tele fretwire? Fender says it's .078″ x .043″, so that's probably as authoritative an answer as we'll ever get.
 

Fretting out

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Posts
12,516
Age
31
Location
Land of Mary
Since this zombie was brought back….

I’m still confused why medium jumbo is larger than jumbo on the custom shop order form in post 5

I was back then and still am now….

Typo?
 

schmee

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Posts
21,867
Location
northwest
Medium Jumbo is ~.046 tall these days. (be careful, some sources call Medium Jumbo tall as jumbo!)
Jumbo is ~.055 tall. Some is .059
Gibson traditional ~.036 tall
Vintage Tele should be in the .043-.046 range. Definitely not .020

The whole fret wire world is cluttered with lack of consistency.

Warmoth 6105 is .047 high:

Medium Jumbo Narrow (6105)​


MaterialsNickel/SilverStainless SteelGold
Availability
Number6105SS6105
Width x Height.095" X .047".095" X .047"


Dunlop 6105 is listed as .059 tall
 
Last edited:




Top