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Thread: bigger fret wire size

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    Default bigger fret wire size

    i have built to date, 5 mandos with a boat load of help from here. I have use stew macs mandolin wire on all which is ,.053 W, .032 H, .022. I have looked at hundreds of other mandos and have noticed larger fret wire on almost all of them. can some of you chime in on what I might try? and what are the advantages of bigger wire. thanks
    Mike Marrs

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    I've been using Stew-mac #147 [crown height .040", width .080"] for 20 years or more for most mandolin fret jobs.
    In short, the additional crown height makes it easier for a player to fret a note cleanly without bumping into the fingerboard.

  3. #3

    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    Standard size guitar wire (0.080" w X 0.043 h) is commonly used on a lot quality mandolins these days. I speculate that this originally started because skinny wire wears grooves so much quicker requiring a refret. So the biggest advantage of the bigger wire is longer life, although the advent of EVO gold has largely negated this advantage. The larger wire does make it a bit more of a challenge to fret cleanly the higher notes above the octave fret. It does produce a slightly beefier tone, not a problem with bluegrass. Some players use a lighter touch and can get a more delicate tone out of the smaller wire.

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    EVO .037 x .053 mandolin fretwire is my favorite- plenty of height but still nice and narrow so you get very precise accurate intonation. It lasts approx. 4-5 times longer than traditional nickel silver wire, but does not destroy tools like stainless steel... 'Quite possibly the perfect mandolin wire.

    Ask 10 people around here and be prepared for 27 different answers.......

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post

    Ask 10 people around here and be prepared for 27 different answers.......
    Yes. But I think that most of us who have re-fretted many instruments will agree that good crown height improves playability.

    I'll also mention that I have, at customer request, installed wire with a wide crown [.095"] on 3 or 4 mandolins, and thought that the wide crown felt cramped on a mandolin, especially in the upper registers. I do think that the .095" works well on guitars, though.

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    thanks for all the responses, and I did order some .080-.040 from stew mac, and got it yesterday
    Mike Marrs

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    ...I think that most of us who have re-fretted many instruments will agree that good crown height improves playability...
    Interestingly I just lowered the height of the frets on tenor guitar for a customer. He wanted easier slides so I milled the Evo frets to .030".

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    It's generally good business to give a customer what he asks for.

    I'm about to install .100" x .050" wire on a short scale electric. I think it's too high for that sort of instrument, and gave my opinion to the owner, but he's been playing for 50 years and worked professionally. I'll install what he asked for with no argument.

    And I'll be glad to use up some of this extra high wire. It's been lying around for several years. I think it's best suited for an electric bass, but I don't get many electrics in here.

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    Often, people get an idea in their heads but have never seen or felt it practice. To help with this, I have an old Taylor guitar neck in the shop. I pulled all of the old frets and in cascading order I installed one of every fret size I could find- from gigantic .110 x .172" electric bass frets all the way down to vintage Gibson "paperclip" mandolin wire, including my favorite EVO & some old bar frets. When they actually have it in hand, almost everyone picks something different than whet they initially brought up.

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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    I also have a sample board, though it does not include this particular wire. I also let him play a flat top that had .046" high wire. He still wanted the .050" wire, so that's what he'll get. It may not be what I think is best, but it will certainly work and won't hurt the instrument.

    And I'll finally use up about 4 feet of wire that has been collecting dust for several years. I'll still have over 20 feet that I might never use, so if somebody can use some .100" wide x .050" high nickel silver wire, they are welcome to pm me. I also have some medium wire with a really low crown that's been lying around for decades . . .

    It's not for me to force my preferences on a customer, unless they want something done that simply won't work. And if they insist on something that I am sure won't work, I usually gently decline the repair.

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    Registered User masa618's Avatar
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    Default Re: bigger fret wire size

    Thanks j.condino
    My new mandolin has EVO .037 x .053 fretwire. As you say, the tone will be accurate. Since it is thinner than the other old mandolin, the positioning on the slide will be misaligned, so the fingers of the left hand will be put in force.

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