Fanned fret question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by yoshi, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Apologies that this relates to guitar building.

    I'm building my buddy a 7 string fanned fret guitar (he's paying for wood/hardware and i'm getting another build's experience plus the thorough enjoyment of it!) and I was discussin with him the contstraints around fanned fret and headless, mostly that I was curious about mounting an angled headpiece (locking nut). He sent me a few and without realising sent me this Strandberg one that appears to have a squared headpiece/first fret as opposed to the usual angled one.

    Usual, angled:

    New to me, squared:

    I notice that the ever-trusty Fretfind2d accommodates this in Scale length > multiple >
    perpendicular fret distance (set to 0). Yahoo! Here's two basic fretboard maps (thumbnail as they're massive, click!) to show differences between perpendicular fret distance 0 and 0.5, the default/
    0, perpendicular: fretboard_fan_perp-page-001.jpg 0.5 "fanned" all the way: fretboard_fan-page-001.jpg

    Any constraints to this? Or is it only a playability thing?
  2. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    It's a matter of playability. The farther your perpendicular fret is from the nut, the more angled the nut will be. Likewise in the other direction, the closer your perpendicular fret is to the nut, the more angled the 24th fret will be. In the former case, chording can be more difficult at the nut, and is a bit more reach; in the latter, same effect in the the upper register. Also in the latter case, the more angled your bridges are, the more you get the effect of picking close to the bridge through picking far from the bridge, when you are just picking straight across the strings in a normal manner.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    You don't have to mount the headpiece on an angle. Note that both of those examples have zero frets. You can put the zero fret at an angle, and then the headpiece behind it, perpendicular. Same thing if you want to use a more conventional nut; angle the nut but keep the headpiece square.

    Like pilotjones says, how you arrange the fanned frets is up to you. I build fanned fret guitar necks for one of my luthier clients, and we did some experimenting with configurations and ergonomics. We ended up settling on putting the perpendicular fret at the 12th and keeping the fanning modest, like 3/4" to 1". That's for 6, 7, and 8 string guitars. We found that to be the most comfortable, and the customers like them. But, you can do as you like.
    mansjasont likes this.
  4. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    Not a builder but this is really interesting, guess I never though of this as a possibility, I guess if going custom, one would want the perpendicular fret closest to where they spend most of their time on fingerboard. For a 5 string bass maybe 5th or 7th fret. Guitar, for open chords first or second fret makes more sense.

    A steep bridge for a pick player or either instrument (especially extended range) would allow Palm muting of low strings while not muting the high strings while soloing.

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