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Thread: Small or large frets?

  1. #1
    Registered User John M. Riley's Avatar
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    Im about to order a mandolin from a builder and I cannot decide on whether to get the traditional small frets or the larger ones. I have a gibson with traditional frets right now and a rattlesnake with the large frets. It seems that is plays much easier with the large frets... but its a totally different mandolin and it may just be in the setup. Everyone on here has been really helpful with all my stupid questions in the past. Can you all shed some light and help me out some? Is there any volume or tone changes between small and large frets? Do they play much different if you had two identical mandolins? Any info at all would be appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    I just had my Duff refretted with Martin Guitar frets. It's great - I love em.

    However you'd be well advised to TRY it first. I played both and like the guitar wire better. Definitely easier to play.

    How do you like your Fern? How about the Rattlesnake?

    You have some nice instruments - what are you having built?

    Leo R.

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  3. #3
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    I had banjo frets put on mine (which are larger than mando frets). I noticed a huge change in the ease of playability and tone... (my mando is a newer hand-made F style)

  4. #4
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    It is much easier for me to play on larger frets. I can feel where the string contacts the fret easier, meaning I push way less to play.
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  5. #5
    Registered User John M. Riley's Avatar
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    Yeah guys that pretty much the same thing I was thinking. It seemed that the larger are easier to play. . The gibson is a hoss, I bought it off John Rigsby who played with ralph stanley. Its very loud and has a killer bottom end, but its a little hard to play. The rattlesnake is just the opposite where its extrememly easy to play and has a nice adirondak top which gives it killer midrange and highs. Its the easiest playing mandolin ive ever had too. I play it more than the gibson. I was thinking about ordering a buckeye....still thinking about it though
    07 Silver Angel Distressed F5
    Rigel G-110
    05 Gibson Fern
    74 Gibson F5
    82 Clawson F5
    05 D18 Golden Era
    76 D28 Sunburst
    06 DG Carpathian & Mahogony
    06 Blueridge BR160A
    10 Little Martin LX1

  6. #6
    garded
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    I think it's funny, only because it's been brought up so much did the mando fret folks not chime in I guess. I'm a big fan of guitar size frets too, just had mine done again(after 15yrs on the last set!!) with stainless frets. YMMV.

  7. #7
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Are guitar frets comparable to banjo frets? Is there a differece? Another vote for larger frets here.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    My Flatiron had larger frets. I did not realize this at the time so when I got my BRW I had traditional size frets used. I had often thought about changing them when I need a fret job but after meeting a fellow cafe member(Fred G) with a BRW with larger frets I had a chance to compare. Tone wise they were very compatable.I believe we agreed on the consensus that his mando seemed to have a stronger chop, but mine felt more comfortable playing notes. I decided to stay with trad size at least until I am more convinced of larger frets.

  9. #9
    garded
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    dunno Pete, but I had several people comment on my mando tone after I got the larger frets. It just plays nicer to me, but you know, YMMV

  10. #10
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    I was having the stock size fret wire on my MM changed out about every year. This was too time consuming and expensive to boot. I moved up to banjo size wire, and now past the year mark the frets are in great shape. I would say they are easer to play on, and more forgiving as well

    Darrell



    Gibson MM #V-70335 5/2002

  11. #11
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    I definitely agree that large frets are more forgiving. #I have a 3 point with original skinny frets and you have to fret exactly in the right place to get a clear note. #When I switch to my inexpensive Korean Dean it seems like I can slap my finger down anywhere between two frets and still get a clean sound.

  12. #12
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    I just sent mine in to have a partial re-fret. You guys are making me question my decision to go with the original size wire. I got an old one with larger frets but something about it bugs me. I didn't want the sound to change so I decided to leave them the same. Gibson fern (new)

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