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Fret wire selection


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So having ordered every bit of my future creation I’ve realised that I’ve not ordered any fret wire. There appears to be a crazy number of choices in terms of size and composition and I’m not sure where to start? I’d rather pay more so that they need less attention but I think one of Mark’s videos said to avoid stainless steel unless you want to lose teeth from your files!?

…on an elaborate journey to turn trees into music.

3 Answers

You should stick with good ‘ole nickel silver wire for your first few (at least) fret jobs imo. Stainless steel frets are a lot more difficult to work with and require special tools.

I think you’ll find that getting a good fret job using standard wire will be a big enough of a bite to start with. 😉

As far as the size is concerned that’s entirely up to you, the player. I prefer my frets as tall as possible and thin-ish. I use Wagner 9662. You might want a medium sized wire. If you have calipers you can measure the frets on a guitar that you like and go with that. 

Practice on scrap...

@mattbeels Thanks, not entirely sure why the simple solution of measuring what I’ve got on other guitars I like didn’t pop into my head 😬
Is the part that goes into the fretboard a common size?

Suppliers are usually very helpful and will advise according to the style of guitar. I think 2.5 mm is thought to be standard but some electric players like strings closer to the fretboard so prefer a smaller size. Remember that when dressing frets a lower crown height makes it more difficult.


The part that goes into the board is called the tang and the bits on the tang are the barbs. The barbs are what hold the frets in. The tang needs to be the same size as the slot or ever so slightly smaller ie 0.1mm but you don’t want it any bigger as it can back bow the neck. 

Practice on scrap...

Cheers, I’ve ordered a pre slotted board from GuitarMaking shop so I’ll get the feeler gauge out to measure the tang width and use the depth gauge when that arrives.

Posted by: @mattbeels

stainless steel frets

They sound like a good idea until you have to cut, file and dress 24 of them!! Seriously, stainless is a nightmare to work by hand. Not impossible, but you REALLY have to want it badly!!