Do frets have to be metal? Metal frets are recommended because they wear down at a slower rate compared to stainless steel and other materials. This means your frets will be longer lasting and you may hardly have to refret your guitar with nickel silver frets. In addition, the nickel silver frets also play a vital role in the sounds being produced
If you have just started playing the guitar, then you may be curious to learn more about its components.
While the strings and neck of the guitar are easy to learn about, one feature of the guitar often leaves beginners pondering over its placements and structure is the fret.
The fret is the tiny metal strip resting on the neck of the guitar at regularly spaced intervals. While its purpose is quite obvious, most ponder over whether it has to be made of metal. What if frets were made of a softer material such as wood? Or a material that doesn’t hurt your fingers while playing? Would this affect the playability of the guitar? Would it produce the same sounds? Let’s break down the answers to these questions one by one.
To learn more about what they are, read ahead. Once you are done reading, you are sure to have added some valuable information to your music knowledge bank. Small steps such as these are key in helping you become a renowned and professional guitar player in the future.
What Are Frets?
Frets are commonly found on musical instruments such as the guitar, violin, banjo, and even the ukulele. They often get confused with the strings – if you thought they were the strings at first, then you are not alone. To put it in simple words, frets on a guitar, for instance, are the thin metal strips where the strings of the guitar rest on. These rest on the long neck of the guitar i.e. the fretboard. They are spaced at regular intervals to make it easier for the player to mark the note being played. The area between two of these metal strips are also called frets. When the strings are pressed upon a fret using different combinations called notes, along with the simultaneous strumming of the strings above the sound chamber, a sound is produced. Different combinations of notes then result in the production of music on the guitar.
What Are Frets Made Of?
Frets can be made of different materials, but since the inception of the guitar, metal has been the core element that goes into making the fret. Here are some of the metals used to make them.
- Nickel Silver- this is usually 18% nickel and the rest is copper i.e. 80%.
- Stainless steel
While stainless steel is the less traditional material used for frets, the most common one is nickel silver. Let’s have a look at why this is so.
Do Frets Have To Be Metal?
The answer to this question is a yes. And here’s why this is so. The most common metal used for frets is nickel silver. This metal contains 18% nickel, 80% copper, and the remaining includes traces of cadmium, lead, and zinc. It is because of this structure that this metal wears down at a rate that is slower compared to stainless steel and other materials. As a result, you may hardly have to refret your guitar with nickel silver frets.
Similarly, the nickel silver frets also play a vital role in the sounds being produced. The pressing of the strings against the frets, along with the vibrations caused as the strings are pulled upon, is what leads to a unique sound with every new combination. The presence of any other material being used for the fret, may otherwise, dull down the notes being played.
Tips On Ensuring Your Frets Stay Durable
Since frets are constantly being pressed down on and being tugged, they can experience wear and tear. To prolong the lifespan of your guitar having your frets cleaned is important. However, you can also follow some tips to keep your frets durable for longer. Here are some of the steps that you can follow.
- Frets don’t usually corrode or form a layer of rust. However, they can get tarnished. You will know this is the case if they feel gritty to play on. To solve this problem regular fret polishing is a must.
- Clean your fretboard and frets with a microfiber cloth after playing the guitar. This will prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris under the frets, giving you a loud and bright note every time you put on a performance.
- If you suspect your frets have gotten loose, you can have your frets removed and replaced by a professional at a music store. Here too, be sure to opt for frets that are made of nickel silver.
Wrapping It Up!
There you have it, all you needed to learn about frets and more. You can now inquire about the frets on the guitar before making a purchase. Remember to go for metal ones made of nickel silver. These are durable and sure to make your guitar last for a long while. In addition, if your fingers find the frets and strings too harsh, then you can apply a cold compress on your fingers or use a numbing cream. This is going to help build calluses faster and help relieve the pain and discomfort – making your journey towards becoming a successful musician quicker.
Moreover, if you wish to learn more about the different components of guitars, the differences between similar instruments, music genres, and music history, then visit our website without delay. At Musician Authority we have a wide range of resources, articles, and blogs that are catered to helping you learn more about the different music types, instruments, and more! You can become well versed and learned in the field of music and musical instruments in no time!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.