If you’ve ever been out for guitar shopping, you’ll come across the mention of guitar fret wire sizes. Fret refers to the thin silvery wire strips placed at regular intervals across the fingerboard.
What Are Fret Wires Made Of?
Fret wires are made mainly from nickel silver, which is an alloy devoid of silver, in long rolls. Alternatively, they can be made using stainless steel or EVO gold (a copper alloy). They’re cut to match the exact width of the neck of the guitar and tapped into pre-cut slots in the fingerboard. The snippet consists of a rounded crown on the top of a thinner tang with barbs on each side. Ideally, only the crown must run the distance across the slot, while the tang may remain a bit smaller. Barbs on both sides of the tangs hold up the fret in its place with the help of glue in each slot.
The Dunlop fret wire is made locally in California and is used by a great majority of guitar brands. Here are the different fret wire sizes of the crown (width x height) that are numbered as per Dunlop’s product numbering system:
6100 Jumbo (.110″ x .055″)
The largest billed fret wire size available.
6130 Medium Jumbo (.106″ x .036″)
A fairly low height.
6150 Vintage Jumbo (.102″ x .042″)
It’s wider in comparison to 6230 but lacks the tallness.
6105 Tall and Narrow (.090″ x .055″)
This is the modern option in frets which is currently fairly popular.
6230 Smallest (.078″ x .043″)
This is the smallest fret wire size that’s found on old Fender vintage necks.
Although fret sizes are an affair of personal preference, they notably impact the playing style of the guitarist. Fret wires that aren’t too long allow the guitarist to maintain frequent contact with the fingerboard when fret dressing the strings. Oppositely, large fret wires ease playability with a higher quality of toning, bending, and sustain as the fingers need not come in contact with the fingerboard as often.
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