View Full Version : Difference between brass and nickel frets?

08-31-2011, 02:26 PM
Hey guys (and gals), I'm buying another uke and have been looking into the Ka-s, but my dad is giving me a hard time about it bbecause the ka-15s is US$20 cheaper. so one has brass, and one has nickel, so I'm wonderding, is there any difference? Thanks so much:)

08-31-2011, 02:48 PM
On nylon string ukes, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

I hear there are some issues for steel-string instruments.
Apparently nickel frets are a bit more long-lasting for them. But I haven't read a truly reliable, scientific answer to that yet.

08-31-2011, 03:30 PM
It's not going to make a difference in terms of tone or playability. My first ukulele was the Kala ka-15s. For the money, it's fine. I still use it to work out arrangements. Were I to do it again, however, I'd get the KA-s because the rosette on the ka-15s is a decal that comes off. At least mine did. I think the last coat of finish was applied over the decal, so now there is a ring where the decal used to be. Also, the KA-S has binding that dresses it up a little more (as do the nickel frets).

08-31-2011, 09:11 PM
Ah, for me it's not brass vs nickel, though I prefer nickel, it's bar vs crowned! I don't really like the brass bar frets on vintage ukes, but if they are bar frets I prefer nickel as it doesn't tarnish as fast and I think visually they are prettier. My fave fret is the Martin or Gibson fat half round frets, I just love those things! They just seem a lot easier to fret, very silky. My Kala and an Ohana I had used fat round frets (I'm sure that's not the technical term, lol) and my Yasuma Martin copy tenor has them, as does my Tacoma Papoose, and my two electrics.

08-31-2011, 09:26 PM
As others have said, on a steel strung instrument brass can wear quicker, but that won't be an issue on a uke.

Brass does tarnish quickly and ends up looking quite mucky in my opinion. I don't like brass frets for that reason alone

09-01-2011, 07:58 AM
The technical term is "T" fret, as opposed to "bar" fret. Both get crowned, it's just more noticeable on a T fret. You are unlikely to find anything made recently with bar frets unless you go for Martin copies by those luthiers like Laughlin or Zimnicki who are as authentic as possible.

09-01-2011, 10:34 AM
I've got some old ukes with brass that are worn but not that much and they are over 75 yrs old. I have a Guitar from the 60s with brass and I had to level and recrown because of wear.

09-01-2011, 02:14 PM
With pure nylon strings brass is fine. It's even okay with the wound strings, though brass will wear faster than nickel with the "silver wound" strings.

I doubt you can even find a steel-string instrument with brass frets - at least not one made in anything like the current times. Brass frets will wear extremely fast with steel strings.

Personally I prefer nickel frets even on "nylon" string instruments because they generally don't tarnish much and they are much more resistant to bending - I've actually had the edge of a brass fret catch on a finger and bend upward.