Thinner frets and Vintage radius, am I crazy or..

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by michael.e, Jul 19, 2006.


  1. michael.e

    michael.e Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey!
    So, I just took posession of a great Strat. It has Vintage wire and radius. Am I hearing this right..
    I hear a woodier tone
    I hear a more bell like tone on all settings


    I have a Kotzen Strat that I love. It has ginormous frets and a compound radius. I love the tone from the axe, it is just different..

    Also..
    On this new axe, it came with 9's. My Kotzen has 10's and I love it there. The new one with 9's is still super thick and punchy as all getout. I may just leave them on there as the formula for this guitar seems to be utterly sublime, or.....
    Is a thicker gauge always better? I have always thought so myself, but now, I don't know. Perhaps it is simply I, in that I do not want to mess with the mojo that is eminating from this fine axe right now....

    Thanks,
    M.E.
     
  2. hogy

    hogy Member

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    No, thicker strings don't sound better. Some guitars sound better with lighter gauges.

    Yes, vintage small frets sound different. I've grown to prefer them over big frets to the point that I re-refretted some of my vintage guitars that I originally installed big frets in back to stock wire. Glueing the frets in with hide glue also makes a big difference.

    Here's my theory.
    Mediocre guitar + big frets = more string and pickup sound = better.
    Great guitar + small frets + more of the instruments tone, more tonal variation and character = better.

    I don't think you can "hear" the radius, but a vintage 7 1/4" radius forces you to set the action high enough not to fret out on bends, and that always does sound better than ultra low action.

    Hogy
     
  3. michael.e

    michael.e Silver Supporting Member

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    Okay, so, yes, I can completely identify with what you are saying. I just learned something today! Sweet!!

    I am only :crazy in the right ways then.....

    Oh, Hogy........
    If you ever need help schlepping solder, lemme know. As a reference, it only took me 4.5 hours to hook up my 4-12 over the past couple of days :BEER!

    I am getting quicker each time I pick up that gun!!!


    M.E.
     
  4. jgyn

    jgyn Member

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    Agree x 100
     
  5. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    I've always thought that too, the fact that the string is in contact with the fretboard with smaller frets affects the tone.
    Tall frets sound "cleaner" but les complex, small frets are warmer and a little more compressed sounding.
     
  6. Troubleman

    Troubleman Silver Supporting Member

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    I prefer the feel of hugh frets - big fan of 6100s. I can almost get under the string on deep bends, and nasty vibrato is really easy. I just took possession of an AV57 (blonde ash!) with vintage fret wire. I put a set off .011s on it. Surprisingly it doesn't fret out on bends (no idea why) and it sounds pretty danged good - lots of the body and neck sound comes through. I'm not thrilled with Fender 57/62 pickups (never have been), so I'm thinkin' Lollar replacements or maybe a set of Fender Fat50's for them, and a Callaham trem block. I'll wire the bridge pickup into the circuit and install a push-pull pot to bypass the tone stack entirely, otherwise I'm gonna leave it alone. No refret to 6100s, no locking tuners, no graphite nut. Don't need 'em.... Especially the frets. Go figure. :dude

    Peace,

    jb
     
  7. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    IMO, there are too many other tonal factors in a guitar to catagorically say that small frets & a tighter radius=a drastic difference in tone. Yeah, everything affects everything to a degree....but no two peices of wood are exactly the same and no two pickups are wound exactly the same, both of which I think would have more effect on the tone. Also, considering setup....many Strats I've played seem to be very sensitive to pickup height adjustments.
     
  8. Luke V

    Luke V Member

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    Sounds like you just got a good Strat. We all know how much they vary. I happen to like vintage frets and radius, they've never caused a problem for me.
    That said I did pick up an EJ, wasn't looking for one and didn't particularly care for them. But when I played the one I bought I knew it was going home with me. The right wood seems to be where the magic is.
    Congrats on a great Strat, enjoy it.
     
  9. teddy boy

    teddy boy Member

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    Another fan of vintage frets and radius here. I had a period of not digging it lately but now it's totally my thing!
     
  10. Karmateria

    Karmateria Member

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    Yeah, I think that you got a good axe, and if you refretted it with big frets you might not hear much change. I'm no luthier, but it seems that way from a common sense standpoint that you can't compare this guitar to another and say that it's the frets alone.

    You know, they've had this figured out for quite a while now... Fender did his homework back in the 1940s and there were a lot of awesome pickers back then. It's not like tone was invented ten years ago at PRS or something.

    Karma
     
  11. FredW

    FredW Member

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    I go both ways. I have noticed that big frets and maple sound better than with rosewood. I have an ash/maple CS strat with a 10" radius that just sounds like a piano. I have a '66 strat with vintage radius and frets and a rosewood board that is amazing also. I feel that big frets on rosewood boards choke the tone somehow. I don't get the same feeling with maple. FWIW I have a 59 strat that was re-fretted with medium jumbo's before I bought it that doesn't have this problem. Probably because there isn't much finish left on the guitar at all. That is my experience YMMV.
     
  12. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Normally I'd agree with you but I remember a time I had one guitar with high-ish frets that needed a major fret dressing, when it came back the frets were low enough that holding down a note made contact with the fretboard.
    I noticed a big difference in the unplugged tone and not soething pickup height etc. could affect.
    The attack of the notes was different, rounder with more "inteference" like Hogy said more neck/body tone and less string tone.
     
  13. ChasR

    ChasR Member

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    Glad to see you got your deserved new axe! Give us a "sound bite" when you get a chance...:RoCkIn


    See ya matie!
     
  14. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I hear more 'woodiness' in Strats and Teles with smaller "vintage" fretwire, both acoustically and through the amp. I say that as a general finding; I'm NOT asserting that it's always true, but it does seem to me that that's how it is.

    I'll be a little controversial and say also that I hear something in the way the 7.5" radius guitars interact with the pickup height adjustment - it's subtle, but some of those old Strats have just got something going on in the way the 7.5" radiused neck and (therefore) bridge setup interact with the shape of the magnetic field of the pickups.

    It's actually the shape of the arc of the strings as they interact with/interrupt the shape of the magnetic field from the pickups. I don't think it's pickup height alone that accounts for this, though I agree with Hogy the pickup height and action height are very overlooked components of tone, especially in Strats and Teles. I do however think that with careful pickup height adjustment one can very nearly emulate/duplicate the 'shape' of the magnetic field of a 7.5" radius guitar on a 10.5" radius guitar.

    As I say, it's subtle, but I'm pretty sure I hear it. We are talking some pretty subtle stuff here, but the fun's in the details, huh?

    Your mileage will probably vary - that's my mileage (GRIN)

    Dana O.
     
  15. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

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    There's another factor involved with this issue. I grew up on vintage Fender frets and radius but also played Gibsons early on. These days I play quite a few different combinations of fret sizes and radius and do so because I tend to attack the instruments differently. I think the playing feel naturally influences how hard you squeeze and hammer; how much you bend; even how hard I hit it with my picking hand. I'm sure you've heard that many players like the guitar to fight them a little bit. Well, that's what the vintage frets and radius do for me and it causes me to fight back a little more and maybe get a little more sting as opposed to the smooth way I might play, say, a Gibson with wider frets. Yes, you get a more articulate note with a narrower fret. But I'm a big believer in it being mostly in the hands and that's the big difference for me.
     

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