Fan Frets: Why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tedthulhu, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Hey, all.

    I've been seeing the curious phenomena of "fan-fret" basses more and more of late, and I'm honestly curious - what is the purpose? Does it increase string tension because of the altered scale? Tonally, what is the effect of the nonstandard fret arrangement? Actually, for those with 5 or 6 strings, how do you even find strings long enough to use on something that's above 36" scale? I have yet to run across a fan-fretted bass in person, so I've had no chance to try one myself. I'm just curious if you fine folks could help enlighten me on the subject. Thanks.
    Element Zero likes this.
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Essentially yes.
    Longer strings will make low notes while either being being thinner and more flexible than shorter strings at the same pitch or higher tension at the same thickness as shorter strings.

    Tonally they are more even sounding from string to string and there is a more piano-like harmonic series on the thickest strings than with a mono-scale instrument.

    Basically it's taking the reason mandolins have short strings and upright basses have long strings and applying it to each string separately.

    There are string sets made for fanned fret basses. Not as many options as for other basses, of course, but they are available.

    For as strange as they look, they're surprisingly easy to play. I picked one up when I sat in with a friend's band one night and played 3 songs with no warmup. Didn't feel the slightest bit odd until I tried to go above the 12th fret.

    There's an ergonomic consideration as well. The fan will allow you to keep your left wrist straighter. Instead of having to angle your wrist to get your fingers to line up with parallel frets, it follows a more natural curve.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  3. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    It's ergonomically good. Make a great b string
    Honch and smogg like this.
  4. Huh. That's pretty cool. Makes a lot of sense, now that I consider it. That higher tension on the B would make it sing a lot more nicely and eliminate floppiness if you detune (though I don't know of anyone who detunes a B string, personally), or use non standard drop tuning. The ergonomic thing is interesting, too. I think I might have to seek one of those out and just give it a shot for myself. Thanks for the input!!!
    lz4005 likes this.
  5. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011
    I owned a Dingwall Super J for years and it was an incredible instrument. Each string played and rang very evenly. The bottom end was super tight with no floppiness. I played a Dingwall that had a drop tuner on the B string and it sounded AMAZING.
    Maureen M and Tedthulhu like this.
  6. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    From the Dingwall site:Why fanned-frets? | Dingwall Guitars
    Why fanned-frets?
    Rating: +32

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    The frets are fanned to allow for a longer scale on the bass side and a shorter scale on the treble side of the instrument. This solves a few problems:
    1) No longer will the B-string sound darker and less distinct compared to the other strings.
    2) The G-string retains warmth and normal tension compared to extending the scale of all strings.
    3) You will no longer have to adjust your attack depending on which string is being played due to the more even tension from string to string.
    4) You will no longer find the tone adjustments for one string interfering with another due to the more even tone across the strings.
    5) You will no longer be unheard and ignored by your audience due to the combination of the longer scale low strings and the even tonality across all the strings.
    BK bassist, Charlzm, Honch and 4 others like this.
  7. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Search function reveals several threads that should give you plenty of reading material on this topic.
    Ikkir, Honch and Killed_by_Death like this.
  8. I've already gotten all the information I was looking for from the posts, above, but thanks for the tip.
    GR7G5TER and monsterthompson like this.
  9. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    When I'm "just curious", I love to hop onto gOOgle or if I can't find the information there I'll use TB's own friendly search engine.
    Did you know there was already a "Rickenbacker" thread ongoing right under your own Rickenbacker thread, when you started that thread?
    Garret Graves, Ikkir and Honch like this.
  10. Wow, you're super welcoming and helpful.
  11. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    All questions have already been answered here so no need for new threads. Just google and enlightenment is yours. :rolleyes:

    Seriously, if the question is J vs P, or 4 ohms vs 8 ohms, or best x for metal, then please yes just search or FAQ dammit. But fanned frets are still pretty esoteric (to me), so it's nice to get a new perspective every now and then. I wish I could afford a bass that has them. :(
    getrhythm, Charlzm and Tbone76 like this.
  12. EMoneySC2


    Aug 25, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    Why? It looks cool :bassist:
    YosemiteSam, Funk and Nev375 like this.
  13. dxb


    Dec 25, 2016
    Maybe someone who knows more about it can confirm or deny this, but I've heard that the longer the scale, the more of the fundamental you get on the lowest strings, as opposed to mostly just overtones.
    Honch and gebass6 like this.
  14. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I find them considerably more comfortable to play with a 35" scale bass, and an essential for scale lengths longer than that.

    Play a fan fretted bass for a half hour. Then go play a standard neck in the same scale length for a half hour.

    That'll tell you everything you need to know about why the need for fanned frets.
  15. Jesuguru

    Jesuguru Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    DC area (for now)
    It's interesting to me how many people click on a new thread just so they can scold OP to search out old threads. Maybe he actually wants new perspectives on an old topic, or personal experiences rather than company marketing materials copied from a website?
  16. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    This thread needs more pics of fanned fret basses.:woot:
  17. EMoneySC2


    Aug 25, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    I think the relative "need" for a fan fret bass depends on what you do. If you're a 5/6 string player who does a lot of work on the low end, it can definitely be a benefit. Much better string tensions without needing huge gauge strings. Much clearer low end in general.

    There are obvious cons, mostly around stretches on the lower end of the low strings...but that's a pretty minor thing for me. You also have to note the small selection of strings that are available for fan fret basses with really long scale lengths.

    Most fan fret basses on the market are also just really nice instruments, so lots of the folks (like me) who play them are also 'biased' because they have a great bass.

    Per requests, my Dingwalls :p

    Attached Files:

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  18. hondo4life

    hondo4life Guest

    Feb 29, 2016
    Fan frets just keep your strings cool.
  19. Jesuguru

    Jesuguru Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    DC area (for now)
    "Per requests, my Dingwalls :p"

    That trans-black one gives me gas I really don't need right now...
    nice_hat and EMoneySC2 like this.
  20. It seems more often than not, when I google something bass related, the hits come up as being part of a TB discussion. Or if I think to do it, I google "TalkBass [subject of interest]" rather than just the subject of interest.

    The interwebs is the bestest stuff, and it's all true!;)
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