FretWraps are cool and intuitive ways to clean up your guitar and bass playing by dampening or muting your strings and are used by professional musicians around the world. The days of tieing a sock or wrapping hair scrunchie around the nut and fretboard to achieve the same effect are over, and in this article, I will share with you some reasons why every serious musician should pick one (or a few) of these up!
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What Are FretWraps?
As briefly mentioned before, fret wraps are a type of string muter or dampener. These are very small, simple, and inexpensive accessories that can help you achieve very big things, hence, why all of the pros can vouch for them.
The maker of these products is GruvGear, and while they have an impressive line of guitar and bass accessories, this brand became known because of their V-carts (which have now been renamed the Krane AMG). However, I think their fret wraps helped take their popularity to another level by offering a lot to both touring and non-touring musicians.
FretWraps are essentially a small but rather thick piece of fabric that is adjustable and fastened through a plastic loop and secured with velcro. The cloth material dampens the strings and removes a lot of the natural but annoying overtones that come with playing a stringed instrument like guitar and bass. Also, when you play a note, it instantly gets muted, so you won’t get a bunch of extra noise from your strings ringing out, which can hinder your sound and make you sound sloppy.
Back in the day, people used to wrap a sock or use a scrunchie to dampen their strings, and while it worked, it just looked kind of ridiculous. The fact that Fretwraps are pretty noninvasive and look pretty cool helped increase its popularity, without a doubt. Additionally, the fretwraps cover each string evenly, and you can adjust the tightness of them, making them more effective overall than these earlier methods of muting guitar strings.
Fretwraps are often secured around the nut of the guitar and bass, but others have found that moving it down further down the neck can help you achieve an even cleaner lead guitar tone, especially for tapping and sweeping. Unfortunately, this leaves the instrument’s nut unwrapped, exposing you to those overtones again.
In response to this, GruvGear developed the FretWedge, which basically has the same effect, but instead, it is comfortably inserted under the strings behind the nut. They are meant to be used to complement each other, which means you can slide the FretWrap down to wherever you want without worrying about what’s going on near the headstock.
Now that you have an idea of what these products are designed to do, I’m going to show you some reasons why you need to get a guitar string muter as soon as possible!
1. They’re Great For Cleaning Up Your Tapping & Sweep Picking
While there is no substitute for good ol’ woodshedding with your guitar and bass to get your techniques down, using a fretwrap for your playing is one of the best investments you can make.
They won’t magically turn you into a master, but they can make a good player sound much better by having something to help minimize unwanted noises. Of course, for the professional player, it just makes them sound even more pristine, and having the cleanest tone is something that all musicians should strive for.
For them to be most optimal for these techniques, shifting the fretwrap up the fingerboard will mute the strings better than if it’s lower on it towards the nut of the instrument. In contrast, having one on or near the nut is great for playing rhythm guitar since it will allow you to access the low notes; however, theoretically, you could always slide it back up the fretboard if you needed to. Luckily, you don’t need to pick and choose cause you can have a fretwedge stay towards the top while you have a fretwrap further down.
2. They’re One Of The Best Accessories For Recording Guitars & Bass
When you’re recording, you’re essentially taking a photograph, but with sound, and if you’re preparing for a photo, you’re probably going to want to try to look your best. The same goes with recording audio; you’ll want to do everything in your power to sound perfect.
During the recording process, there is the possibility of there being those pesky overtones, no matter how flawless your technique is or if you have the best guitar pickups, amp, etc. Because of how these accessories mute and dampen the strings, they help you keep your recording clean by minimizing the extra noise that can potentially mess up what would be a really good take.
Even if you’re not recording for a professional studio-quality album yet, these are still amazing tools to have for doing activities like creating demos or recording covers of your performances that you’ll be sharing with the world.
3. They Can Add Clarity To Your Live Performances
Admittedly, live performances can be noisy no matter what you do, and sometimes it’s up to the sound guy at the venue whether or not you’re going to have a great gig or not; however, like recording tracks, you can still have some added control of your sound if you have a fretwrap on your instrument.
With that said, It certainly won’t save a trainwreck performance from happening, and it’s more important that you are well-rehearsed so that you can sound your best, but fretwraps can absolutely benefit you especially for certain parts that can be tedious or even impossible to mute.
Your audience might not know the difference, but you will, and that’s something that can add a lot of peace of mind and give you a boost of confidence while you’re up on stage. You’ll play better knowing that you won’t have a bunch of strings ringing out during your solos. Here’s a clip of Matt Heafy from Trivium talking about how he gets the most out of fretwraps in the studio and during his live shows:
4. They’re Convenient & Stylish At The Same Time
I don’t know if I heard of anyone loving the appearance of a sock or hair scrunchie tied around their guitar or bass. Some might have gotten used to it, but overall, I always thought those looked pretty silly.
Fretwraps eliminates this by giving you something that requires little to no effort to put on, is adjustable, and can look cool at the same time.
I personally have a plain black one, which still looks good on my instruments, but fretwraps come in many different colors and designs, which gives you a sense of customization. Here’s a safari pack for the glam metal fans out there; I’m sure Satchel from Steel Panther has at least one of these:
5. They’re The Most Bang For Your Buck
In comparison to other accessories, fretwraps offer some of the best value for the price. Gruv Gear put out an awesome product that’s very affordable and does so much. There are only a few other accessories that I can think of that can be used in a variety of situations, like the fretwrap can.
They also seem very well-made, but I see no reason why they would fall apart unless you pull too tightly on the velcro flap. However, if yours does happen to break for whatever reason, they are easily replaceable, and they typically cost around the same price as a pack of guitar strings.
If you have multiple guitars or basses, you can also opt for a three-pack version, like the ones shown earlier, and don’t feel like taking your fretwraps off and on when switching instruments. This allows you to save some money compared to buying them individually. If you’re not a fan of fancy patterns seen in the ones before, there’s always plain-colored and wood-themed ones like these that can most likely suit any color guitar or bass that you might have:
The last thing you need to know about fretwraps and fretwedges is that they come in different sizes – Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large for the wraps, and Small, Medium, and Large for the wraps wedges.
According to Gruv Gear:
- Small (SM) is best for 4-string basses, 6-string electric and acoustic guitars, and ukeleles
- Medium (MD) is ideal for 5-string basses & 6-string classical guitars
- Large (LG) is recommended for 6-string basses & 7- to 8-string guitars
- Extra Large (XL) is suggested for 7- to 12-string basses, Chapman Sticks, double basses & other extended range guitars
- Small (SM) – 41.5mm wide – for 6-string guitar, 4-string bass
- Medium (MD) – 47.5mm wide – for 7-string guitar, 5-string bass
- Large (LG) – 53mm wide – for 8-string guitar and 6-string bass
Now that you know everything you need to about the fretwraps and fretwedges, you can find your own here at Amazon, where you can see all of the different designs. Hopefully, you can find the perfect size and color for you, and importantly, I hope you find as much use out of fretwraps as I have.