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Mandolin or Banjo Frets Anyone?


RobT

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In the search for a bass builder. An affordable one at that. I've run across some interesting design concepts. One is the Dingwall basses with the Novax fanned fret system. The fanned fret topic has been discussed around here already. I'm interested in the mandolin or banjo sized frets on basses. Anyone have one? Anyone have any insights or comparisons to the medium and jumbo frets most basses have nowadays? Pros, cons or caveats?

RobT

 

Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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I assume you got the banjo/mando fret thoughts from Lee Sklar, who favors them. I also prefer shorter and smaller frets, perhaps because I played nothing but fretless for over 20 years, and am not a fan of jumbo frets and other large metal obstacles on my fingerboards. ;)

 

My Gibson Custom Shop Leeland Sklar model has small frets-- not sure if they are mandolin or not, but very well could be. I very much like that slim neck and small frets, which makes it very playable, and some folks will tell you that your tone is "woodier" as a result. Not sure about that.

 

Karl Hoyt recently built up a neck for a bizarre project bass of which I conceived-- it's an Epiphone Ripper body for which he built a five string maple/maple neck, and the frets are even lower and smaller, and it is also very playable and pleasant-- I am still monkeying with string selection and truss rod/action adjustments on it, for the best sound, but I am similarly pleased with the small frets and wish my other Hoyt fretted five had the smaller frets as well.

 

Of course, aggressive steel round wound players are likely to wear these frets down, and with not as much meat there, refrets will likely be necessary sooner than with jumbos.

1000 Upright Bass Links, Luthier Directory, Teacher Directory - http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm

 

[highlight] - Life is too short for bad tone - [/highlight]

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Bob, great ornament !!! Paint a beard on it and it's you !!

 

http://www.eclecticbass.com/moe.jpg

 

I choose medium frets for my Kinal. With the larger frets, it's a bit harder to actually have the string hit the right point for proper intonation. I probably couldn't hear the difference, but over time if you have them filed (or dressed), it may be harder for the intonation to remain what it was. For me, I also like the feel of medium. I've never played any frets smaller...

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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fanned frets has to do with how the frets are installed on the fretboard. Fret size speaks to the material used for frets.

 

Pat, go to The Dingwall site to see some fan-fret examples. They've recently redone their site....

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Rob T,

I can't remember exactly where I read this, but I'm pretty sure Lee Sklar uses mandolin fretted basses only in the studio and not on the road/stage due to rapid fret wear. Hope that helps in your decision making. I wanted to try them too after playing fretless for so many years, I figured it'd sound closer, but after reading the above info, I've held back and stuck with what I've got for now. Sorry I can't remember and document the source. I think it was in a BP back issue though...

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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Thanks for the comments all. I think I have that BP issue with Lee. I'll have to go back over his comments. That woodier tone may be something to shoot for or at least approximate until I can afford an EUB from BobG :D

RobT

 

Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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