Fret-height-and-width Preferences - What're Yours and Why?

  • Specifically, I'm concerned about bending with weak-and-inexperienced hands / fingers.


    Logic tells me that it'd be easier to feel the string and not lose grip on it if the frets were higher (still low action in terms of fret <-> string gap), 'cause one wouldn't be feeling the fingerboard as well. I can imagine the string's slipping from under one's finger if the finger were in contact with both the string and fingerboard whilst pressing down and bending.


    As for width, the only thing I can think of is that the target area for fretting would be wider the narrower the frets. Does this come into play, especially as one moves up the neck and the gaps get smaller?


    Those are just my amateurish guesses at this. I created a thread over at Rig-Talk but wasn't able to get many responses; I'd love to hear what you guys think along with your reasoning... please!

  • Pretty much all my of my guitars have jumbo frets, apart from my Folreden strat and a vintage Höfner. Height varies by how old the guitar is and how many fret dressings it's had, haha, but they're all pretty much the same, there or thereabouts. I don't notice a massive difference when going between one with jumbos and one without. If anything, only the cosmetic appearance. As for bending, I think if the guitar is set up properly, there shouldn't be much in it. I know Guthrie Govan goes on about the frets in his Charvel sig and how important the size is to how the bends feel and how easy it is to bend smoothly, but I haven't experienced any life-changing benefits, to be honest.

  • I have Jumbo and Heavy Fret guitars. Honestly, I don't feel that much a difference when bending with different frets. I do feel it when putting pressure on chording though and I can feel a difference between them at that point. When it comes to bending, string pressure gets me more than frets. Heavy frets allow me more accuracy when hitting the higher frets. Jumbos remind me of the scalloped neck guitars and sometimes crowd each other at 21-24. I have medium sized hands so that may be the reason.


    Cheers!

  • I really like the Dunlop 6100 size and width but in a stainless steel fret!
    Stainless steel Jumbo's are great - super smooth on your bends (they feel a bit like playing on glass) and they last forever!
    Jumbo size means your fingers can get "under" the strings for a big bend!


    Prior to SS Jumbo frets, I used to play on Dunlop 6000s but they can feel a bit bulky.


    But it's a very subjective matter. Some of my laddie's can't be bothered with Jumbo frets and love small vintage frets - while I totally dislike small and/or narrow frets.


    Unfortunately, you must let your own fingers decide about this one! :)

  • So it sounds like my assumptions about "working against" the fretboard whilst bending may be on-the-money for my "weak" hands.


    I know Guthrie Govan goes on about the frets in his Charvel sig and how important the size is to how the bends feel and how easy it is to bend smoothly, but I haven't experienced any life-changing benefits, to be honest.

    Thank you Sam. What exactly is he saying? Is it that higher frets make for easier bending in his case?


    Heavy frets allow me more accuracy when hitting the higher frets. Jumbos remind me of the scalloped neck guitars and sometimes crowd each other at 21-24. I have medium sized hands so that may be the reason.


    Cheers!

    What're heavy frets, Digby?


    I really like the Dunlop 6100 size and width but in a stainless steel fret!
    Stainless steel Jumbo's are great - super smooth on your bends (they feel a bit like playing on glass) and they last forever!

    I'm SS all the way these days, so I'm totally with you on that, Rook.


    Jumbo size means your fingers can get "under" the strings for a big bend!

    This is exactly what I was imagining, Rook. Losing a grip on the string whilst pressing it against the fingerboard and bending is my main concern.


    I think I have 6105 on several guitars. Since I have those, I find it annoying to touch/work against the fretboard when bending or vibrating.

    Great to hear. This is my worry, and I thought it might just have "been me". Thanks so much, mate!


    Unfortunately, you must let your own fingers decide about this one!

    ... and unfortunately I can't get around to audition things; I have to make a judgement (I'll be happy if it's in the ballpark as I can't afford to back-and-forth with a luthier) prior to getting the guitar.


    With jumbo you will experience ease of bending , but if you go for the extra Jumbo, it becomes almost a scalloped feel because your finger might hardly or slightly touch the finger board. However the lower the frets and the narrower they are, you will get more body neck resonance and depth, but I still prefer jumbo. Tall and and narrow is another option where you get the best of both worlds.


    I have personally installed the various sizes of frets on my guitars and even though I enjoy playing all the guitar, once I get to the jumbo or super jumbo, the slick feel makes them my favorite specifically for the easily fret bends that glide effortlessly.

    I take it then that "Jumbo" means "high", Dean? I thought it just meant "wide" (never looked into it).


    "Best of both worlds"? So for you, narrow (and higher) is better? Why narrow, if I may ask?


    Thank you so much, man.


    Thank you very much, everyone! 8o

  • Heavy frets are stainless steels that are .110" wide and 054" high in measurement. They are similar to the 6100 fret which has the same measurements body wise as the heavy but the profile has a slight triangular shape while the 6100 is normally round. They are kinda glassy in feel to me as well.


    Cheers

  • My goto-guy is 6150 SS, because it is a good all-around compromise.


    When Nickel 6100s wear down, they will lead to intonation problems, when you play a lot of chords (because o their really wide base). Recrowning will help, but I hate having to deal with maintainance - so for me it is medium jumbos SS whenever I get o choose.

  • Hmm... narrow-and-high's sounding better all the time; thank you Deano!


    The next logical question for me would be as to how high-and-narrow to go; I just don't wanna feel the fretboard getting in the way or making it easier for strings to slip from under my fingers when bending.

  • I use 6100 and 6000 Dunlop.Some of my newer Ibanez guitars out of Indo have tall frets and a bit more narrow.
    The bigger the better if you have a light touch like I do.
    If you grip with a heavy hand you will bend the strings sharp by your downword pressure.
    If the frets are high it keeps the flesh of your finger tips away from touching the fret board. If you have a maple fingerboard you will feel the drag when you bend strings with lower frets.
    I can not play a guitar with tiny frets. Years ago I would scallop fingerboards but now with the bigger wire available there is no need for that.

  • If you have a maple fingerboard you will feel the drag when you bend strings with lower frets.

    Ahhhh this might be the reason that I never noticed any difference before; all of my guitars except 2, one of which is the Charvel GG sig, have rosewood 'boards. Never thought of that!

  • I only said I have weak hands (long-term injury).

    Weak handpressure won't let you be tired so soon. ;)


    The jumbo frets and a string set of at least 0.10 mm (0.11 for the big band) is the best compromise for clean strumming, fast chord changes and solo bendings for me.
    I have had this habit for decades. I don't want to rule out the possibility that it might not be the best solution. But I believe in it. :)