What Are Extra-Jumbo Frets on a Guitar?

Written by scott georghiou
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What Are Extra-Jumbo Frets on a Guitar?
Extra-jumbo frets can help you play faster (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Most guitars sold today come with metal wires, called frets, installed across the guitar's neck. These frets allow the player to intonate notes accurately, without having to guess note positions. This is in contrast to orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos, which normally have fretless necks. Different kinds of fret wire are available to guitar manufacturers, with the most common variations involving material, width and height. The tallest, widest fret wire is typically referred to as "extra jumbo" by guitar manufacturers and players. There are a few reasons why players might prefer extra-jumbo frets to shorter or thinner alternatives.

Bend Notes Easier

Many players feel that they can use a lighter touch when playing a guitar with extra-jumbo frets. When the strings are depressed on the neck, they are less likely to come in contact with the fretboard when compared to a guitar with smaller frets. This creates less friction between the player's fingers and the guitar's neck, and makes it easier to bend strings.

You Can Play Faster

Many players claim that a guitar with extra-jumbo frets has an almost "scalloped" feel to the neck, meaning it's possible to play without the player's fingers ever coming into contact with the wooden fretboard itself. Players who employ a lot of tapping into their playing often find that they're able to play faster on guitars with extra-jumbo frets, with better clarity and note separation.

Frets last longer

Guitar players who incorporate a lot of bends into their playing often find that their frets wear down faster than they would like. This is especially true of people who play frequently, or for extended periods. Because they physically have more material, extra-jumbo frets often last longer than smaller frets. This allows the player to go longer between fret jobs, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

More Consistent Sound

Many players feel that guitars with small frets are more sensitive to finger positioning, forcing the player to be more accurate when fretting notes. Extra-jumbo frets are less sensitive, allowing less experienced players, or players who play fast, technical pieces, to worry less about finger positioning, especially when playing chords. This helps to create a cleaner, more consistent sound across the fretboard.

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