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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Fret size in 1966

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Sep 3rd, 2019 07:40 AM   Edit   Profile  

Any idea what fret size would've been original to a 66 Strat? I've read where that was a "transition" year for CBS (with no further explanation, of course), so I'm assuming some things remained as they were on those sought after pre-CBS guitars, and other things changed, like the head stock size.

So how about the fret size?

littleuch
Contributing Member
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Florida

Sep 3rd, 2019 11:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

My guess would be 66 = vintage frets. My gut feeling is that it wasn't until the early 80's when Fender started using bigger wire on Strats and Teles.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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If irritation occurs

discontinue use.
Sep 3rd, 2019 01:04 PM   Edit   Profile  

Fret wire dimensions do vary a bit depending on the lot they used in any given month. It was all fairly small compared to today's standard small wire from Dunlop and Jescar ("Fender Vintage") size.

I just measured the frets on my 66 Mustang; the frets are original, but I've leveled them so they're a little shorter that stock.

The wire is .074" wide and .042" tall. It was probably in the .050" range when it left the factory.

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Sep 3rd, 2019 02:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

Intersting. Thanks!

Here's the history of my old Strat:

I bought it used in or around 1969 or 70 and played it for a few years before buying a LP. Somewhere along the way I boogered up the frets badly trying to shave a buzz out with a bastard file. Oops! So I took it to Virgil Lay in Akron to get it squared away. Obviously he had to level and dress the frets based on the lowest fret.

The current frets measure about .104 wide x .035 tall and that would suggest that the frets were medium jumbos with .010 removed from the first and probably two subsequent setups that included some fret leveling and dressing (with much less removed than the first time).

My gut feeling also was that they still would've been of the vintage variety. But that would then suggest that it had been refretted before I bought it. I'm not sure how much guitar modding was going on back then by the average Joe, especially with frets. And if it had been refretted it's almost certain that Virgil Lay would've been the guy that did it, and I can't remember my discussion with him when I took it to him, and whether he said anything like "I remember regretting this guitar". But he probably had so much work going through there I'm not sure he would've recalled one guitar anyway.

was thinking about refretting my old Strat, thinking that new and taller frets would make that slim neck feel just a tad beefier. I have a set of medium jumbos on hand, but I'm thinking that some of the "narrow & tall" frets (6105s) might be a better way to go.

(This message was last edited by Gene O. at 05:52 PM, Sep 3rd, 2019)

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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If irritation occurs

discontinue use.
Sep 3rd, 2019 03:23 PM   Edit   Profile  

You're on the right track. Installing taller frets and dressing them down so they're still taller than the originals will make the neck feel a bit fuller in the hand.

"I'm not sure how much guitar modding was going on back then by the average Joe, especially with frets."

It really wasn't until some time in the 1980s when guitar players really started paying attention (okay, "obsessing") about stuff like fret wire. When a guitar's frets have been LDP (leveled, dressed, & polished) more than about three times they are too small to continue using, so out they come and new ones go in.

It's also not uncommon to see older guitars with two or three different sizes (widths) of wire on the neck, because it's cheaper to have a few frets replaced (e.g., frets 1 through 4 due to 'cowboy chord' wear).

Sometimes a fret receives a ding from an impact with something and that single fret needs to be replaced. Repair folks may not have the exact same size wire on hand, so they install a taller fret and dress it down to the level of the existing frets, and do a polish to blend it all together.

I'm guessing your Strat has had the frets replaced at some point in its lifetime.

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Sep 3rd, 2019 03:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

Last time I took ole 66 to my luthier he said that there is no more material left for another LDP, so a refret is inevitable.

I have a few Warmoth necks with their version of the 6105 fret - .095 wide x .047 tall, which is very comfortable to me. That's probably what I'll go with.

When I bought that guitar it was 3 or 4 years old so "at some point in its lifetime" would be within just a few short years. It would seem odd to me for someone to refret it, then trade it in within that short of a time, but I guess anything is possible.

(This message was last edited by Gene O. at 02:43 PM, Sep 4th, 2019)

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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If irritation occurs

discontinue use.
Sep 3rd, 2019 07:39 PM   Edit   Profile  

If a guitar gets played a few times a week on gigs by a real gripper (player that mashes hard on the frets) it's totally possible to wear out the frets inside of a year's time.

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Sep 4th, 2019 05:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

I know, I play with one of those! :)

ejm

usa

Sep 4th, 2019 09:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

Peegoo: A '66 Mustang with the frets you describe leads to a whole 'nuther series of questions.

FWIW, from the Warmoth web site, their fret sizes and descriptions.

Warmoth fret sizes and desriptions

Te 52

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Sep 4th, 2019 02:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

One word of caution: There is no universally accepted standard for the dimensions of fret wire.

So for example, while StewMac, Dunlop, LMII, Jescar and Warmoth may all sell a fet wire they call "6150," there will be subtle differences in the specs for height, width, tang dimensions, etc. So if you need exact dimensions, check carefully before you buy.

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Sep 4th, 2019 04:04 PM   Edit   Profile  

"There is no universally accepted standard for the dimensions of fret wire."

I have found that to be true, especially for the 6105 fret wire. Add manufacturing tolerance to that and the actual dimensions can be all over the place. As long as the 6105 fret wire that I purchasd for my 66 on eBay is close to .095 wide, the height can be adjusted to my preference.

Gene O.

NE Ohio

Dec 3rd, 2019 10:02 PM   Edit   Profile  

FYI: After some careful thought I decided to go ahead and use the medium jumbo frets since that is what was on it at present. It looks and feels great and plays like a new guitar, albeit a reliced one. ;) Man, I wish I would've done this years ago.

FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Fret size in 1966




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