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Strange looking frets

GUEST,Zeph 05 Feb 16 - 07:53 AM
Will Fly 05 Feb 16 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,# 05 Feb 16 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Zeph 05 Feb 16 - 11:00 AM
Will Fly 05 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM
Will Fly 05 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Crowhugger sans cookie 05 Feb 16 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Ray 06 Feb 16 - 04:47 AM
PHJim 06 Feb 16 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Musket 06 Feb 16 - 02:26 PM
gillymor 06 Feb 16 - 03:46 PM
PHJim 07 Feb 16 - 04:54 AM
PHJim 07 Feb 16 - 04:54 AM
Backwoodsman 07 Feb 16 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 07 Feb 16 - 11:02 AM
gillymor 07 Feb 16 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Musket 07 Feb 16 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,Zeph 08 Feb 16 - 01:47 PM
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Subject: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Zeph
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 07:53 AM

Forgive me if this has already been discussed, but can anyone tell me why I'm starting to see guitars with frets at different angles,that change as they go up the fretboard. What advantages, and any ideas about the physics involved, as the width between frets is progressively different between the top and bottom E strings.

Or have my eyes gone funny?


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 08:15 AM

Nope - your eyes are fine!

This is called fan fretting, and the theory behind it is to compensate for the slightly different scale lengths required between bass and treble strings.

The fretboards look weird but I'm told that the theory works and they're actually OK to play.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,#
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 10:08 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUSLdat1gEg

That 7-minute video will help I think.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Zeph
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 11:00 AM

Thanks Will... "the theory behind it is to compensate for the slightly different scale lengths required between bass and treble strings." does this mean that heretofore all guitars and fretted instruments have had it wrong??The mind boggles, and the fingers tremble....


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM

Yes, that's right - conventional fretted instruments approximate to the right intonation, and always have done! In practice, the ear gets used to the slight imbalances produced by the "normal" fretting.

If you play, you will almost certainly have noticed that some chords in particular keys might sound slightly out - so much so that you have to adjust tuning slightly so that all chords sound OK. So, you might play something in the key of G, for example, and then make a slight adjustment for playing the next tune in D.

It's rarely bothered me in 50 years of playing, but I must admit I wouldn't mind having a crack at a fan fret instrument.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM

Yes, that's right - conventional fretted instruments approximate to the right intonation, and always have done! In practice, the ear gets used to the slight imbalances produced by the "normal" fretting.

If you play, you will almost certainly have noticed that some chords in particular keys might sound slightly out - so much so that you have to adjust tuning slightly so that all chords sound OK. So, you might play something in the key of G, for example, and then make a slight adjustment for playing the next tune in D.

It's rarely bothered me in 50 years of playing, but I must admit I wouldn't mind having a crack at a fan fret instrument.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Crowhugger sans cookie
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 12:04 PM

Ooooh I've got to try one of those fan fretted jobs! I've been doing much more a cappella because it takes a lot of energy for me to ignore the not quite right intonation. To be fair, some of that is due to the compromise between physics and playability that is equal temperament, but definitely some is the string weight difference. So I still really want to try these...might be just enough to tip the tuning into a comfortable zone for me.

And now I'm picturing the next evolution: zigzag frets for 12-string guitars.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 04:47 AM

It isn't always exclusively down to intonation. Fan frets are particularly useful in 5 course mandolins where, in effect, the top 4 are a mandolin and the bottom 4 a mandola. Mandolas need a longer scale length than mandolins and fan frets are a practical solution.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: PHJim
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 01:38 PM

The fan frets are still in equal tempered scale and so won't have much effect on intonation. They just produce a longer scale length for each string. I don't understand the physics behind why they would effect intonation. An Epiphone Texan has a different scale length than a Gibson J-50, but they seem to play equally in or out of tune.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 02:26 PM

Tempering and refining intonation are the main reasons given for them. (Look at the saddle on any guitar and you see the principle in action, less pronounced.)

My reason for liking them (Avian to be precise) also include why (using the two American big name guitars) Martin are seen as having a richer bass whilst Gibson can be sweeter at the treble end. As fan frets have a longer bass length (Martin) and shorter treble end (Gibson) you can get the best of both worlds.

Obviously, far more variables involved but for modal tunings with a low bass (down to C on the Avian with no wobble) they are stunning.

Try not to look at the guitar first time you try one though.. You make no finger adjustment but it can look weird at first.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: gillymor
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 03:46 PM

Al Petteway demoing a multi-scale Avian Songbird.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: PHJim
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 04:54 AM

An intonated bridge on a guitar without fan frets is entirely different from a guitar with fan frets. A difference in tone because of longer strings I can see (although I'd think changing the gauge of the strings would accomplish the same thing), but intonation I can't see. Are there any luthiers on here who could clearly explain this?


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: PHJim
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 04:54 AM

An intonated bridge on a guitar without fan frets is entirely different from a guitar with fan frets. A difference in tone because of longer strings I can see (although I'd think changing the gauge of the strings would accomplish the same thing), but intonation I can't see. Are there any luthiers on here who could clearly explain this?


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 10:51 AM

DreamGuitars - explanation of Fanned-Fret guitars


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 11:02 AM

On a slightly related note - Buzz Feiten Tuning System

5 or 6 years ago I bought 2 pretty decent quality Indonesian made Washburn 'pro quality' electric guitars in bargain lightning sales,

both factory fitted with Buzz Feiten Tuning System.

Can't say I really noticed much genuine improvement to get too excited about.

On one, I forgot it was Buzz Feiten and intoned it as I would any factory new guitar straight out the box.

I did buy a proper Buzz Feiten Tuning System tuner to correct my mistake,
but never got round to bothering
because it all looked too complicated for punk folk skiffle.... 😕


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: gillymor
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 11:35 AM

That article you linked to gave me a serious case of G.A.S.,BMW, while I'm still making amends to SWMBO for my last acquisition.


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 02:24 PM

Intonation changes? Think electrics and adjusting the saddle individually for each string. It is a fact that csa, tensility and other string variables can affect the intonation but look at the twelfth fret on a fan fret and the angle v csa going in each direction frets and you can see what is meant.

As I said, the long bass length and shorter treble length are my reasons for being a fan (sorry) but by coincidence, my academic claim to obscurity was concerned with mechanical vibration so fan fret seems rather logical from a pocket calculator sense too. (So does carbon fibre body, so if ever Rainsong make a fan fret, I'll part exchange my beloved Rainsong OM1000.)

Any road up, I'm back in Blighty so if BWM can get a 24hr pass, might see you in Belton on Wednesday?


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Subject: RE: Strange looking frets
From: GUEST,Zeph
Date: 08 Feb 16 - 01:47 PM

Thanks to all of you for all the info, very interesting seems quite technical. Not that there's anything wrong with technical...


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