Jumbo and Medium Jumbo frets are found on many electric guitars from brands like Fender, Gibson, and Ibanez, but what is the difference between them? In this article I’ll explain everything you need to know about the difference between these two fret sizes.
Medium Jumbo vs Jumbo Frets
Fret size refers to the width and height of the fret wire. Fret size has an impact on playability and most players will have a preference for one fret size over another. Two of the most popular sizes are Jumbo and Medium Jumbo.
Here are the measurements for the Dunlop Medium Jumbo and Jumbo frets. Keep in mind that the measurements may vary slightly for other manufacturers.
- Medium Jumbo: 0.106″ x 0.036″
- Jumbo: 0.110″ x 0.055″
Medium Jumbo frets are only 0.036″ tall, whereas Jumbo frets are 0.055″ tall. This means Medium Jumbo frets are just over 50% taller than Jumbo Frets or 0.019″. Medium Jumbo and Jumbo frets are very similar in terms of width. Jumbo frets are only 0.004″ wider than Medium Jumbo frets which equates to a 4% difference.
Hence, when comparing Medium Jumbo and Jumbo frets, the height difference is the only thing we really need to look at.
Difference in Feel
Since Medium Jumbo frets are not very tall, you will feel the wood of the fretboard more when playing compared to Jumbo frets which are much taller which means you’ll feel the fret itself more than the wood.
The taller Jumbo frets are typically easier for most players to fret compared to the shorter Medium Jumbo Frets. This is one reason why Jumbo frets are found on many metal and shred guitars because it makes it easier to hammer on/ pull off.
Taller Jumbo frets are also better for bending the strings compared to shorter Medium Jumbo Frets. This is because there is less friction between the fretboard and fingers with Jumbo frets.
However, since there is a larger gap between the fretboard and strings with Jumbo frets, the chance of the notes being pushed out of tune if too much pressure is applied with the fingers is greater. To compensate for this, you may need to use heavier gauge (thicker) strings which are under more tension so pushing them out of tune is less likely.
Does Fret Size Have an Effect on Tone?
Fret size has a small impact on the tone of electric and acoustic guitars. Jumbo frets offer the most sustain as they are wide and tall so have a lot of mass. Medium Jumbo frets on the other hand sound a bit clearer and have more definition.
However, fret size has a very small impact on the tone of an electric guitar, particularly when comparing these two sizes which only really differ in height. Once you plug your guitar in and especially if it’s in the mix, you won’t find many players who can hear the difference between the two.
Which Fret Size Should You Choose?
I’d highly recommend heading down to your local guitar store and trying out some Medium Jumbo and Jumbo fret necks. Try and make sure the other parameters of the neck are vary similar (profile, width, fretboard radius) as otherwise you won’t get a good comparison.
Personally, I prefer the feel of Medium Jumbo frets and find Jumbo frets feel a bit too tall for me. I prefer my fingers to be more in contact with the fretboard. However, plenty of players prefer Jumbo frets. It really is all personal preference.
|Medium Jumbo Frets||Jumbo Frets|
|0.106” wide||0.110” wide|
|0.036” tall||0.055” tall|
|Fingers will have more contact with the fretboard||Fingers will have less contact with the fretboard|
|Less likely to push strings out of tune||Good for bending and easier to fret|