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?

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One guy uses the stainless steel fro old car wiper blades. look good but alot of work if you dont have grinder i would think.


Whatever you use, you'll need to level them to get them playable - and that goes for fretwire as well. If you are really accurate putting in regular fretwire, you can get away without having to level the frets's standard practice to have to level the frets after installing them.

As a totally different approach, why not try tieing the frets with nylon monoliflament..an ancient technique, but still in use today - my modern saz has tied nylon frets.

I like that idea. I may try that.

Using Jumbo paper clips has worked for me, just use a coping saw to make a small grove for them and then super glue it

How do you keep the grooves the same depth?

I used 1/16" brass rod for my first fretted neck, a lot of work and you have to glue them into slots on the neck. They have held ok . A couple have popped off during extreme temperture changes but glued them back on. All in all, just more trouble than it is worth. I love to "make" al the parts, but when you can get fret wire for what CG Gitty sells it for, it is kind of a no brainer. If you really want to keep it cheap and "real" try wooden toothpicks, but you still have to either glue or varnish them down and I dont think they will have as much sustain or volume  as steel ones.

ps I like the paperclip idea too!

I have used half a stainless split pins cut on the diagonal to form a point then bent into a staple shape and knocked in to undersize holes drilled just in from the edge of the finder board. Not pretty but not much of what I do is.



for me next best thing to real frets are wooden/skewer type frets that I harden with either wood hardener or soak ends with super glue. Metal just seems to pop off and wrapped frets don't have enough contact with a flat fretboard for me. so far fretwire is easiest and cost effective if you include some of your time invested into a project.


I get bone for nuts and saddles from the local pet store, dog section.

Haven't thought about making bone frets though, might have to give that a try.

On my last two builds I have used 1/8" brass rod from Lowe's. I cut the slots to half the thickness of the rod on my table saw (the blade has an 1/8" kerf) and put the rod in with Titebond med gel superglue. Use a long wood plank, sand paper and a long straight edge to level. The nice thing with using the tablesaw is the depth of the cut is constant.


They look good. I like the eyebolts as guides too.


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