Post Number: 410
|Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 2:51 pm: |
As usual, I've got a question.
I've read here in the club that some basses have different sort of frets, like mandolin frets.
If you guys can help me, what are the different types of fret available, and how do they affect the sound?
Post Number: 1910
|Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 3:52 pm: |
Thats a good question as I've often wondered about that.
I'd be interested in the response.
Post Number: 514
|Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 6:19 pm: |
My Carvin LB76 has jumbo frets... I hate 'em. I actually thought about having them replaced with mandolin frets.
Post Number: 409
|Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 10:26 pm: |
This might be a bit of heresy, but personally I think the fret shape matters more on guitars than bass. Bass strings are thick and stiff enough that the string and your fingertip don't come into contact with the fingerboard. On a guitar, there's a lot of fingerboard contact, so the height and profile of the frets are a big factor in the feel of the action (I'm probably pressing too hard!). Old Gibsons (50's) have tiny fretwire but jumbo seems pretty common on everything else.
There were a gazillion Dunlop fretwire sizes (they're not the only maker, but their stuff is commonly available). I think you kind of want it high enough that it's easy to fret the strings, and probably not a lot higher than than. I'm not sure how the width would make much difference to the sound, but if you put jumbo fretwire on an old Les Paul it definitely looks weird.
I hear about mandolin frets every now and then. Now you're talking super narrow and subject to a lot of wear and maintenance (I guess you could get stainless steel). I think the idea is that this presents a much more precise witness point when you fret the string. Doesn't seem like it would make much sense for a bass.
I'm usually pretty picky about all these details, but never seemed to be that choosy about frets as long as their high enough and properly levelled!
I do think that stainless frets have a thinner tone, but if you're really picky about your setup, it's probably worth it because they're so hard (on guitars, I like those old-style pure nickel wrapped strings, so string wear is not an issue for me). Plek setups are fantastic and don't cost more than having a really good tech's manual job so that's great too.
Post Number: 161
|Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 4:46 am: |
The only time I read about mandolin frets on a bass was a article in Guitar Player (Before they branched off Bass Player) about Leland Sklar (it was around the time he was playing with Phil Collins during the Susuido album). If I recall, he was commenting that it gave the bass an almost fretless feel.
Post Number: 783
|Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 6:58 am: |
Alembic made a custom with mandolin wire: http://www.alembic.com/info/fc_rio.html
Post Number: 683
|Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 7:14 am: |
I can't speak much to bass frets, but on guitars the fret size seems to me to have a great effect on the feel, but pretty much none on the sound - except stainless, which I have not experienced, but I understand to make the tone brighter. There have been at least 2 CoTM basses with mandolin frets , The Big Bass and Rio: Mica says they deliver an almost-fretless sound. She says elsewhere that the idea came from that interview with Lee Sklar.
As to what's available, Stew-Mac has 11 types, ranging (width X height) from .053"X.037" mandolin wire to a big honkin' .110"X.053" (for our metric friends, that's .110mm X 0.94mm & 2.79mm X 1.32mm). Dunlop's webpage offers 20 sizes, but only identifies them by model number (6240, etc.). You can, however, find a more comprehensive listing - size, manufactor, material - here.
Peter (who really wasn't aiming for the most-links-per-word record - honest!)
(Message edited by cozmik_cowboy on April 14, 2010)
Post Number: 469
|Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 4:41 pm: |
My '87 Series I has mandolin frets. When I bought it that was the first time I'd ever heard of them. Mica explained to me then that it was possible to get a near fretless sound with mandolin frets. It is also a little less forgiving of sloppy technique (not that this ever happens to me :D )
Post Number: 212
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 8:20 am: |
The one and only beef I have with my Stanley Sig is the jumbo frets. Once you get above the 12th fret on a short scale bass, these frets are so wide that it's not always easy to precisely hit my mark. If I ever had the wherewithal to have a custom Alembic made I would definitely opt for the style of frets used on early/mid 1960s Jazz basses or mandolin frets.
Post Number: 1912
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 10:36 am: |
Glad you mentioned that HifiGuy as I was thinking it was me being a wuss about finding fretting a little more challenging up that part of the neck especially on the E and A strings.
I wonder if it would be possible/beneficial to mix fret types and have the standard ones below the 12th fret and thinner ones between 12 and 24. Not sure how much difference it would make.
Post Number: 1596
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 12:38 pm: |
Quote "Once you get above the 12th fret on a short scale bass, these frets are so wide that it's not always easy to precisely hit my mark."
Unless you have small hands and short fingers. Then they are perfect. ;-)
Post Number: 116
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 1:37 pm: |
Having had basses with fret sizes mandolin, jumbo, and something in between, I feel that it actually makes quite a difference.
Here is what I think about madolin frets: they are good if you have a light right hand touch. Also your fretting hand needs to push down less so they really allow for fast playing. I also think they go really well with a high c string. Playing chords and soloing feels very fluid. What I didnt like too much, was the mandolin frets in the lower range of the E and B String. It seemed like you really had to play with light touch there. So its probably not a great idea either if you play heavy riffs with a pick.
So I think its important to consider how you will use this bass and also how your technique is and your way of playing and attacking the strings.
Post Number: 6705
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 1:59 pm: |
It's really about personal preference. We use a wire equivalent to the Dunlop 6150 size "jumbo" unless otherwise directed. Our thinking is that a nice big wire will need replacing less often, and that repairs really are no fun.
Personal preferences aside, we're not really into doing mandolin frets with LEDs. The frets wear very quickly (even with a light touch) and there's always the risk of severing the underboard wiring with refretting. We hope to use banjo frets at the smallest. I suggest using flatwounds with the tiny wires.
And stainless steel frets are very stinky when you grind on them - must only be done at the end of the work day so we can all clear out ASAP.
Post Number: 214
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 2:07 pm: |
Based on Mica's learned observations, I think I will opt for the thin, rather pyramidal early-1960s-Jazz style Dunlop sourced frets as the best compromise, should I someday order my dream bass. I don't bend much and I love the precise feel of that style of fret.
But then I have a pretty light touch. There's only minimal (i.e., barely discernable) wear on the frets of my '97 Alembic, which I bought new in '99.
Post Number: 9224
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 5:35 pm: |
Post Number: 412
|Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 7:26 pm: |
There is quite a lot to look at, then. Good to know.
I also struggle a bit when I get above the 14th fret on my SC. Good to know that I'm not the only one.
Jazzyvee, that is a good question!
Is it possible to mix frets like that? Can anyone here answer that?
Post Number: 993
|Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 3:38 pm: |
This thread is about fret options so my question is not that far removed from the topic . Has Alembic ever applied an epoxy like clear coating on the fingerboard of a fretless Alembic Bass such as used by M.V.Pedulla on their fretless Buzz Bass?
Post Number: 547
|Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 5:27 pm: |
This is a good discussion.... I have no problem w/ 6150 style jumbos on my basses.
But, as jumbo frets wear down on a 25.5" or 24.75" scale guitar the intonation issues start to set in. Ideally, I've found that the "vintage tall" style of fret not only wear better, but also feel better in the upper register. For me, the decision is mainly a nostalgia factor~ I've had jumbo frets on Fenders, Charvels, Ibanez's, but if I were to custom order a new guitar, I'd go with something the same height/smaller radius.
Post Number: 6754
|Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 5:24 pm: |
We have done coated fingerboards, though with polyester. When we last did it (a couple of years ago), I think Pedulla was also coating with a polyester at the time too.
I was worried about the wear, but the player that uses that bass has noted very little wear, even with roundwound strings and a somewhat aggressive playing style.
Post Number: 1003
|Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 6:23 pm: |
Thanks Mica , I will remember this for future possibilities.