Fret . It is the separation that exists in the fretboard from the neck of many stringed instruments, in most modern instruments the frets are thin strips of metal ( nickel silver , nickel or steel ) embedded in the fretboard, although they can be of other materials.


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  • 1 Principle of operation
  • 2 types of frets
    • 1 Very tall and wide
      • 1.1 Disadvantages
    • 2 Wide and low
    • 3 Narrow and low
    • 4 Medium jumbo
  • 3 types of frets used in various very representative guitar models
    • 1 Gibson Les Paul, SG
    • 2 Fender Strato, Telecaster,
    • 3 Jackson, Kramer, Ibanez, etc.
    • 4 Electric bass.
  • 4 Tips
  • 5 Tips for choosing the fret
  • 6 Gallery
  • 7 Sources

Operating principle

Pressing on a string at a fret produces a musical note . The acoustic distance between a fret is one semitone . The most common thing is that the frets divide the fingerboard in semitones, as it happens with the guitar.

It should be noted that in variations of some stringed instruments, the metallic divisions are omitted, as is the case, for example, of a fretless electric bass, sometimes the lines that mark the spaces are simply printed. Whether an instrument has frets or not is a factor considered for the type of sound desired, such as jazz , since it allows easier gliding and therefore a more fluid sound.

Frets types

Very tall and wide

Very high and wide frets are usually recommended for soloists. This type of fret allows great speed thanks to the absence of friction between the fingerboard and the finger tips. It also facilitates the “bendings”, “hammer on” and “pull off” stretches as the fingers “grip” the strings better.

A high fret will also favor a little more sustain due to its higher mass and can also be leveled more times before changing it.

Wider frets turn out to be more comfortable moving around the fretboard than tall, narrow ones. On the other hand, especially in beginners, the high frets can mark the fingers more. High frets can also lead to tuning problems if too much pressure is put on the strings, as a kind of scalloped effect.

Smooth playing can sometimes translate into higher fretboard speed, which may be part of the style but for some others it may be a dynamic limitation in playing.


A very wide fret can lead to tuning problems due to wear if it is not level, ground and polished. The wider the fret the more tendency it will have to flatten with the string contact, thus moving the fulcrum away from where it should be.

Wide and low

Very wide and low frets can be very comfortable for sliding down the fretboard but less comfortable for bendings due to the increased friction between the fingers and the fingerboard. They will allow less leveling (less material) so they should be changed more often if you play a lot.

Narrow and low

This type of fret is typical on vintage instruments and is rarely used on modern instruments that need higher frets and wider frets that are more suitable for new techniques and will also last longer.

Medium jumbo

Medium high and wide frets offer several advantages if you are not a radical soloist. They basically don’t have the drawbacks of higher frets although they do offer a good feel for bendings and are more comfortable for moving across the fretboard. Their narrower construction improves tuning and can be leveled multiple times before replacing. Medium frets are ideal for versatile musicians who play both rhythm and solo.

Fret types used in various very representative guitar models

Gibson Les Paul, SG

Medium-large Jumbo medium frets. In some models, especially lowered in height. It is a fret that facilitates the sliding of the string, the bendings. In cases where it is quite lowered in height, it provides a certain ripped tone with drag on the fingerboard wood (blues) and good speed for the scales.

Fender Strato, Telecaster,

Medium light frets, narrow and quite high. This fret, combined with a fairly round fingerboard radius, makes it easy to work rhythmically, chords, with an acceptable string glide on bendings. It defines the note very well, resulting in an especially clean and clear sound. It is quite sensitive to wear due to its narrowness, but due to its height, it allows several levels throughout its useful life.

Jackson, Kramer, Ibanez, etc.

Jumbo and Jumbo Heavy frets, large. It is especially intended to enhance the ease in the sliding of the string, the speed in the fingering, and the good definition of the note with a certain metallic touch. Facilitates techniques such as tapping and hammering.

Electric bass.

Jumbo Heavy frets, large in width and height. In the most modern basses, especially large ones, with a very good metallic response when striking the string (funky) and excellent note definition. In some very classic basses, such as Jazz Bass, Precission, Gibson Ripper, etc., a smaller size is used, in some cases using the size 6230 (Fender guitar).


If you have a fret on a particular fret, chances are this is too low or the next one is too high.

Before taking the guitar to level the frets, always check that it is not because the fret is detached and therefore it moves up and down. If you try to level the frets to solve this problem the level will simply press the fret into place when passing but then return to its original position afterwards, thus frustrating the work.

Suggestions for choosing the fret

  • The frets, by themselves, do not alter the sound of the guitar at all. You can install the fret size you want on any guitar, there is no downside to it.
  • If you want to replace the frets of a guitar due to wear and tear, it is normal to use the model most similar to the one it was originally equipped with. It is a simple matter of not altering the touch and characteristics to which we are already accustomed. But nothing prevents using a measure other than the original one.
  • In the case of choosing the fret on a new guitar, obviously, freedom is total. It is one more element to take into account, such as the proportions and design of the neck, the woods used, the type of pads installed, etc.


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