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Any 7-string fanned-fret bass owners out there?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Grossman, Dec 30, 2002.

  1. I'd like to get some opinions. I'm thinking about having a Hanewinckel made with a Novax fanned fret system.


  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Nope, only 6.

  3. How well does vibrato work on the lower frets? I would imagine that if you're bending the string in the direction that the scale length increases that the note may not increase in pitch as much as a regular bass. Perhaps it might even go down slightly at first ( maybe that's not so bad though ).

    That's one of the things that I'm concerned about since I use a lot of vibrato.

    - Dave
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i've played 6 string fanned fret instruments before, along with the 8 string fanned fret fretless that bill conklin made for jauqo before, and they were ok.

    i'm curious, why are you getting a fanned fret 7? any particular reason?
  5. Benbass


    Jan 28, 2002

    Ive never even played a fanned fret instrument so I hope I'm not stepping in doo doo here. Any way wouldn't the vibrato work just like any other instrument?
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i just noticed this. i don't think the difference would be that noticeable - you're only going to bend the string ~1/8th inch or so, max, i would think. actually, when i do vibrato i don't bend the string, per se, but shake the finger side to side, parallel to the string.

    i'll try to find some fanned fret instruments at the namm show and check it out, now i'm curious.
  7. :confused:
    do you mean you shake your finger side to side going up and down the fretboard a bit? would this only work on a fretless (one of your necks is sans-frets, right?) or am i just REALLY confused?
  8. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Correct me if I'm wrong, JT. . .

    I use this kind of vibrato too. I mostly play doublebass, so bending the string is kinda foreign to me. You actually pull the string slightly sharp and flat, and weirdly enough, the vibrato direction is opposite to a fretless instrument. E.g. when your hand moves toward the nut the note pulls sharp.
    I never use much vibrato low on electric, but I use it all the time on solos on the upper strings.
    LM Bass
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    think of the way a violinist plays - anchor the finger and rock it side to side. it works on fretted as well, trust me ;).
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, that's it. sometimes i'll use it in conjunction with a single bend, as i bring the string back to pitch i'll rock it side to side.
  11. cool. i wasn't sure if i understood you or not. it has now been clarified. thanks.:)
  12. One reason is ergonomics. The Bach works I have been studying require some serious finger gymnastics in the lower frets ( not to mention everywhere else ) and I find myself repositioning the instrument to my right in order to have my hand in a position where I can play comfortably. Similarly, in the upper frets, I reposition it to the left. I was designing a new bass with an extended lower horn and cutaway to facilitate this repositioning and I realized that if the frets were fanned, it might be easier to play it in one position.

    Additionally, my high C and F strings have a much brighter tone than my other strings when played in the lower frets. They have a kind of "twang" that doesn't really match the other strings. I've really noticed this more since I've been working on the fugue from the 3rd Sonata for solo violin. This is the most complex of the Bach works I've been playing and much of it is played in the lowest frets.

    That's basically it. Of course, they look cool too. :D

    - Dave
  13. The vibrato I use is done by bending the string, generally upwards towards the lowest (pitchwise) strings. For the lower strings, sometime I bend them down. You can get a slight vibrato by playing like a violinist and moving your finger parallel to the strings but it's not enough for me. I even put vibrato on open strings by bending the string behind the nut.

    The problem is, if I bend the string up on a fret where the scale length increases as I bend it up, it's possible that the increase in pitch due to the bending will be counteracted by the increase in scale length resulting in an awkward sounding vibrato.

    Of course, this only applies to a fretted instrument. I would never bend a string on a fretless ( not on purpose, at least ). I wouldn't want to trash my fretboard.

    - Dave
  14. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    The fanning is not so drastic as to cause the string to drop in pitch rather than rise in pitch on bends on the lower frets. There obviously is a difference, physically, but I do not hear it. Bending and vibrato work well for me, though the vibrato I use is as JT described.

    I guess it would depend how much fanning you used, at a certain point, I am sure that the string would start to fall rather than rise in pitch but I am not sure at what point.

    Another thing, on non-fanned instruments, any side bending does increase the length of the vibrating string, but the tension increase overrides this and causes a rise in pitch. The fanning results in more length increase, but on the degree of fanning used by Dingwall, this doesn't counteract the tension increase.

  15. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I played my first dingwall last week,(two of them in fact, Thanks Frank!) and The vibrato was great on both of them. I have to say playing that B string was almost a religious experience. The first time I hit it, I had to play it again to make sure it was as good as I thought it was, I thought I was dreaming. INCREDIBLE!!!
  16. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Dave, since you're looking at a Hanewinckel, not a Dingwall, I feel it's OK to post my opinions.

    You're right on target regarding the C and F strings. Shortening their scale will warm and fatten them up considerably. Make them easier to bend and do side to side style vibrato. Also, they will last longer before breaking if that's been a problem in the past.

    Except for the F string, I would assume that in the lower frets you would be pulling the string down when using vibrato as opposed to pushing the string up. If this is the case the bridgeward angle of the frets will aid in pitch change meaning that you will not have to pull the string as much to achieve the same amount of pitch change. Depending on the angle, this will vary from subtle to very subtle, but it's there.

    In the upper frets you have to pull the string further because of the opposite angle, but since the strings are more flexible in the upper frets, this is not that much of a problem. If you push bends in the upper frets, then you will be rewarded with faster pitch change.

    Lastly, I would recommend a couple of things to help in the design of the fan pattern. Firstly, use a capo on a fretless if possible to simulate a shorter scale on the F and G strings (re-tune to pitch once capoed of course). This will help you dial in the scale length to provide the tone you are looking for. Secondly, CAD out the fret layout on banner paper and insert the "virtual" frets under your strings to try and get a feel for how the fan would affect your fingering. You may find that you need to compromise between ideal tone and fingering. At any rate, paper is cheap.

    Best of luck.

    Sheldon Dingwall
  17. yeah, i do that sometimes, too. a lot for putting bends on a harmonic, like when i try to play the awakening.
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey sheldon, thanks for participating! feel free to join in any chance you get :)
  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    oooo, cool. keep us up to date with how things go with it.
  20. I don't think anyone would mind your comments about your own instruments. As long as it didn't cross the line into blatant advertising.

    I've been admiring your site and instruments since I first found it a few weeks ago. Really nice work!

    I actually do both directions. It usually depends on what other notes are being fretted, if any.

    Yeah, I've been thinking about doing exactly that.

    I'm still not sure if I want to go in this direction. It will probably cost a lot more that it would for a regular fretboard. I don't know what kind of licensing hurdles Hanewinckel would have to go to in order to do fanned frets. Novax would definitely have to cut the fretboard so theres the orchestration of that. We'll see. Thanks for the advice!

    Here's a rough draft of one of my design ideas:


    Novax Guitars is very close to me and they said I could make an appointment to come in and check out some instruments. They say they have a couple of 5-string Afterburners. I'll let you all know what I think if I do get to check them out.

    - Dave

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