I'm think this has been a common topic before, but I'm curious if there are any new ideas.
I'm looking for a good alternative to factory fret wire. I've seen various ideas, but none of them seem to work well. Brads and straightened wire are difficult to attach, toothpicks wear out too easy, and bone . . . well, where in the world do you get that?
Every time I've tried gluing something directly to the fret board, the frets finished slightly higher of lower than each other. Ideally then, I'm looking for something that doesn't have to be glued directly to the board. This of course is principle of fret wire, that being, a crown that covers a grove flat on the board.
I've experimented with a couple of ideas. I tried metal push pins, which are really not too different from fret wire. Perhaps that idea worked better in theory though. I also tried shooting staples into the board, and using them as frets, but my staple gun didn't want to shoot them in at the same height.
So, what ideas do y'all have for a decent alternative to fret wire?
I've tried toothpicks, brass craft wire, copper electrical wire (15 amp), and stainless wire brads. My favorite is the copper wire. It's a little beefy for a standard fret (easy to fret a note sharp), but you learn to deal with it. I straighten lengths of salvaged wire by clamping one end and pulling *really* hard with lineman's pliers. I use a hand-miter saw to cut shallow grooves that the wire lays in. Incidentally, the best glue I've discovered for this is a cyanoacrylate (super glue) put out by Gorilla Glue that's rated "impact resistant"--it's been reformulated to give it some rubbery "give", so frets are less likely to pop off. I've used it on instruments I've played from mountaintops to deserts, and never lost a fret.