I may exchange my acoustic guitar with an ESP LTD EC-100QM which from what I've read has extra-jumbo frets.

I'm a beginner and I mostly play chords, so I am worried if this type of frets will be easy to play. Any thoughts?

  • 2
    If you have low frets now, and have the habit of pressing down on the strings too hard, there might be a problem initially, since you'll be out of tune. This habit might take a while to get rid of, but to stop doing that will make you a better player. Otherwise it will likely just feel a bit strange at first. Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 15:15

3 Answers 3


A jumbo fret is made with a thicker gauge wire, and consequently the top of the fret is further away from the fretboard. The claimed playing advantages are:

  1. you can get your fretting-hand fingers further down in the gap to the side of the string, allowing you to put sideward pressure on the string more easily. In other words : string-bending is easier!
    (In my experience this is a definite advantage)

  2. you can push the string down further before your fingertip starts to touch the fretboard (which then starts to put upward pressure on your finger), so it requires less pressure overall to get the strings down.
    (In my experience this is not so noticeable)

Another advantage is that you can dress the frets one or more times more than with standard frets before having to have them replaced.

A possible disadvantage of jumbo frets is that you can unintentionally push the string further out of tune than with standard frets as it can travel further down to the fretboard. The solution is to just not press so hard (see playing advantage no. 2!)

In summary : jumbo frets are supposed to be, if anything, easier to play - but you may not notice much difference depending on your technique.

  • 2
    Something more about the strings being further away from the fretboard: The more you press the strings down with the fretting hand, the harder you have to pluck/pick the strings to sound clear. With more room to go down, you have a wider range between playing soft and hard, and this means more dynamic headroom. Conclusion: Jumbo frets allow you to explore dynamics a bit more. They also let you have lower action without messing too much with the bridge and nut settings.
    – Costagero
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 6:11

Here are my thoughts for your situation.

You mentioned that you are a beginner and mostly play chords. That leads me to believe that you are not going to be playing much lead or doing full step plus bends.

Jumbo frets are popular on many electric guitars and basses. They are rarely seen on acoustic guitar. The main advantage of jumbo frets, is that when playing lead guitar runs, riffs and licks and solos, it is easier to bend the note by pushing the string towards the edge of the neck while fretting.

Most frets classified as "jumbo" are both taller and wider than standard frets. This presents two disadvantages for your style playing.

First, the taller frets will make it easy to press down on the string far enough to make the notes you are trying to play - significantly sharp. Whenever I try to play a guitar with jumbo frets, it sounds out of tune because I have not developed the lighter touch needed to play chords and keep from pressing them out of tune. This can happen with standard frets as well - but to a much lesser and barely noticeable degree.

The other disadvantage, is that the additional width of the jumbo frets, could eventually lead to less precise intonation. When the frets are new, or re-crowned, they have a "crown" which in simple terms means they come to a narrower point on top. Ideally, the crown is at the exact distance from the saddle to cause the string fretted at that point to play the intended note.

Over time if played often, some of your frets will lose their crown and be flat on top as the friction of steel strings wears out the softer fret wire. With the wider jumbo frets, the flat top is wider and can potentially alter the intonation to a greater degree than narrower standard frets would if similarly worn. This can be corrected by an experienced luthier who takes the time to properly crown the frets with a special file.

It's a minimal effect but can mean less accurate intonation. This would not matter so much if you are playing mostly lead and bending the strings because the act of bending alters the note way more than any variance in the intonation caused by worn frets would ever do.

For these reasons, if the deciding factor is standard frets verses jumbo frets - and you will be using the guitar to play mostly chords and rhythm as opposed to note bending lead, I would go with the standard frets.

Later when you decide to learn to solo and want a guitar that will be easier to bend notes on, add one with jumbo frets to your collection.


I have a student whose guitar has lighter gauge strings and it always sounds out of tune...I suggested he switch to mediums at least to see if that helped, so if you are having similar problems, I'd recommend changing your strings!

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