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Why aren't Multiscale guitars more Popular?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by DugT, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Holic

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    They actually are increasing in popularity.
    Looks like some are only slightly fanned. They say it’s actually easier to do bar chords because the index finger follows the slant. Of course this varies on the player.

    The more slanted ones are increasing in popularity for experimental modern music. Never played one but the folks on youtube play very well on them.
    It’s ganna get more popular, I see em on craigslist now.
     
  2. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    I’m afraid we are going to need a judges’ ruling on that one. Can your friend / mentor explain which string he thinks can be intonated better than the other ones on a conventional guitar?
    Can he explain why he thinks a fanned-fret guitar gives better intonation, given that the tools available (nut height, neck relief, neck angle, saddle height, string length) can be adjusted just as much (or as little) on any 6-saddle bridge (and almost as well on a compensated 3-saddle or for that matter a wrap over lightning bolt bridge)?
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I don't need my friend to explain it. Basically, when you intonate your guitar, you are only making one fret of a string at perfect pitch. That string, at the rest of the frets, are ever so slightly off pitch. That is why intonation is typically done at the 12th fret to "reset" the tuning from your open tuning. One string can be close to perfect tune on all of it's frets (based upon how you intonate), but all of the other strings are compromised. Whereas the fan fret compensates for this by having all of the frets in the correct tuning position at every fret for every string. It is just math, but you can test your own guitar to find out by checking your other frets after you intonated. They are not far off, but they are off and there is nothing you can do about it on a traditional guitar.
     
  4. DugT

    DugT Tele-Afflicted

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    Why do you think you can only get one string intonated on a regular guitar and all of the other strings are compromised? Each string can be intonated idividually on almost all electric guitars, fanned or not. You may be right but I am skeptical of everything you said, especially the sentence above.

    On regular guitars and multicale guitars, the frets are placed so that all notes are in tune up and down the neck. The frets are fanned on multiscale guitars to to accommodate the different string lengths. It has nothing to do with improving intonation.

    You also said, "It is only math". I would love to see that math or any source that agrees with you.
     
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  5. DugT

    DugT Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm going to question this too. You intonate a string after tuning the string so the open string is in tune. After intonating, the string should also be in tune at the 12th fret. Why do you think the intonation is off at the other frets? Frets are placed so that the intonation should be good at all frets. A higher nut will make the first couple of frets less accurate but that is the same with a fanned fret guitar.
     
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  6. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Good question. When you first intonate a guitar, you try to find a "balance point" with your saddle/saddles that make it possible to intonate all six strings. This placement is where you have already started to compromise your tuning. Intonation of one string at one fret does not imply perfect pitch at every fret. I am not an expert at this and may not explain it very well, but the guitar is full of compromises that the fan fret design addresses. I grew up learning on the violin, which is fretless and a fixed bridge, so you have to train your ear to position your fretting fingers. The guitar on the other hand has built-in frets that can only be close "enough", but not accurate to the ear. The fan fret actually places the frets where they ought to be mathematically and note that even with the fan fret layout, the strings are quite different lengths to attain this "correction". The traditional guitar is a genius simple design, but just not accurate. Perhaps look at the strings of a grand piano to understand how important lengths of strings are laid out for perfect pitch of each note in a scale to understand.

    I'll add one more thought to this. I love guitar and to evolve from violin was a freeing experience for me. The guitar is less sterile sounding and I do believe this is partially due to the inherent inaccuracies. Watch how Son House uses a slide and you will understand how much off-tune can sound so gloriously. I think the fan fret is an attempt to actually gain back some of that perfect sterility, which is not for me, but might be fine for others.
     
  7. Tele-beeb

    Tele-beeb Friend of Leo's

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    I cant see many people who play in an actual band taking the time for that?
     
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  8. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    This, and it looks expensive and problematic - expensive to buy, expensive to get fretwork done on, expensive to get pickups. Plus, I'll admit it - I'm not really sure what it does or how it's better. Bet more than half of us on here have no idea what the concept behind it is.
     
  9. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Presuming a properly constructed and adjusted instrument, there are three things that affect guitar intonation: the length of the string, the fret placement, and the string diameter and integrity. (The fretting technique of your left hand fingers must be accurate and proper.)

    You can easily set the length of the string. You are stuck with the fret locations. So, if setting the string length doesn't adequately intonate the guitar, the strings need to be addressed.

    I've gone through three and four sets of Classical strings, mixing and matching them to come up with a set that plays in tune. Same with steel strings on a straight bridge.
     
  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    You've seen those guitars with squiggly frets. They work, with certain strings, just like a regular guitar works with certain strings. The string diameter and core affects intonation, so be prepared to consider more than gauge when choosing strings for any guitar.
     
  11. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'd like to try one. But realistically, muscle memory matters and once you go there, you probably have to go there on all your guitars.
    Is the intention for better scale length TONE on each string? or for easier Fretting?
     
  12. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Meister

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    I played a multiscale at a guitar show once. A builder, whose name I've forgotten, specialized in these and had several at his booth. I tried one outa and found the fretboard layout to be a bit disorienting. But I could get used to it without too much effort.

    But the real question is why? It doesn't really solve a problem or fill a need for me.

    Charlie Hunter makes it work because he needs the extra low end range to cover the bass and guitar. He took the idea and ran with it does some amazing things. It's impressive that he can lay down a rock solid bass line, play changes, and solo at the same time.

    But for most of us it seems like a cool idea but limited practical use. I think that like Fripp's new standard tuning it's going to stay a niche concept for a limited number of players.
     
  13. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Hey now, I don't know about that. I know lots of guys who play guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle AND sometimes bass, in the same set ... they don't let muscle memory harsh their mellow.
     
  14. billy logan

    billy logan TDPRI Member

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    I'm sure fanned-frets [making the thick strings increasingly longer] result in more-even tension, string to string [less floppy]

    About the rest of the differences, I'm keeping an open mind.
     
  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    A frequensator or finger tailpiece does that, and I don't think messing with the frets is worth that little change. Get light-top heavy-bottom set, same effect.
     
  16. DugT

    DugT Tele-Afflicted

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    Both. After reading all of the replies and thinking about this for a day, I'm beginning to doubt that a 26.5" low E string will sound significantly better than a 25.5" low E string, especially compared to the improvements you can get with the controls on amps, effects, etc.

    The eronaomics improvement is possible. This guy claims they are much more ergonomic:



    I'm hoping some people with experience with fanned frets chime in here about their experience. I'm shopping for a new hardtail guitar and this looked like a good idea but I'm beginning to think the any tone improvement might be minimal. The ergonomic benefit could be bigger but I haven't noticed the ergonomic problem like the guy in the video who might be a career guitar player. He has the hair for it, especially at 62 years old.
     
  17. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    They look weird.
    Glad I could clear that up.
     
  18. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think it is minimal. But I can tell the difference in the notes from low E to about G on the low E string when comparing Gibson scale and Fender scale. Something about the Gibson scale just sounds wrong to me down there... especially F#
     
  19. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, he's not much of a chorder, it's kind of contrary to his concept. Instead he's a master of voicing - if a bass note plus 2 treble notes can suggest the harmony, he'll do that.

    He isn't playing these guitars to shred. He's doing something different.
     
  20. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    "He's doing something different."

    Playing where the straight frets are? Right?
     
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