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Thread: Source for narrow frets?

  1. #1

    Default Source for narrow frets?

    I've got an old mandolin that needs new frets, but they're narrower than any fretwire I've got on hand. They measure about .041" wide, and the narrowest I've got are .053" (Stewmac). I haven't been able to find a source for narrower ones. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    Paul Hostetter has had this chart out there for quite a while. I don't know how current the information is. He's a member here and you can contact him via a PM or from his website. I see a listing for .040 wire out there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    Bill James has some here as well.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    Thanks, Mike. It looks like Jescar is the only supplier (I believe that's what Bill James is listing) and it's only available in stainless steel. If I do a fret job on this instrument, I'll probably go with a slightly wider fret in nickel silver.

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    I had my Gibson re-fretted with wider wire. It made it a heck of lot easier for me to play. Others may have a different viewpoint.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    I just went through this dance on a partial refret for an old Stewart banjo. Since the instrument was in unusually clean condition, I had hoped to use a close match to the original wire.

    The Jim Dunlop #6330 has a crown that is .043" wide and .031" high. That's an awfully low crown. I decided against it.

    I ended up using the Stew-mac .053" wire. The customer was very happy with the results.

    I have refretted 50 or 60 old Gibson mandolins with the Stew-mac #0147 wire, which is .080" wide by .040" high. It produces excellent results and makes the instruments considerably easier to play. You have to shim or replace the nut, though. On some of these jobs, I have used the .053" wide wire on frets 20 through 24. It leaves a little more finger room for the few people who actually play the really high notes.

    For best playability, I recommend the #0147 .080" x .040" wire. If replicating the old fashioned look is more important to you, the .053" wire would be the better choice.

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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    I have used Stu-mac small banjo/guitar wire for old Gibson mandolins. I like the size and it is close, just slightly larger. I got some of Bill's stainless wire for my Gibson, but the tang was different and if I remember thinner.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    Steve,
    I have some of the .040 wide wire. If you're only looking for enough for one mandolin,
    I'd be happy to send you some. I have that size in nickel silver and also in stainless steel.
    Just PM me and we'll figure it out. Best, Ward Elliott- Elliott Mandolins

  9. #9

    Default Re: Source for narrow frets?

    I appreciate the offer, Ward. For now, the customer decided not to re-fret, so the issue is off the table. My preference would be to use larger frewtwire--as some folks above have suggested. I use Stewmac .053 on my own mandolins.

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