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fanned fret scale lengths

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Gregory Bruce Campbell, Feb 10, 2004.


  1. Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Apr 14, 2002
    Helena, MT U.S.A 59602
    BEE basses, Morley pedals
    846 mm was the bass side scale /9 that we selected. it comes out to 33.307 inches

    If we use a 35" fretting template, the closest to this would be to use the:
    Bass side + 1st fret as 0 fret 33.0356 inches 35" template

    If we use a 34" fretting template, the closest to this would be to use the:
    Bass side + 1st fret as 0 fret 32.0817 inches 34" template

    738 mm was the Treble side scale /9 that we selected. it comes out to 29.055 inches

    If we use a 35" fretting template, the closest to this would be to use the:
    Treble side + 3rd fret as 0 fret 29.4314 inches 35" template

    If we use a 34" fretting template, the closest to this would be to use the:
    Treble side + 3rd fret as 0 fret 28.5905 inches 34" template

    I am very much into the 1st fret from the 35" template being the 0 fret on the bass side...

    But, i am TORN heavily between the 3rd fret on either the 35" or the 34" template for the treble scale length

    Each is either much longer or much shorter that the aforementioned desired scale length...

    On the 35" the 4th fret would be 27.7795 inches I think in that case the spread would be way to far apart...

    Answering that still would not settle my decision ... if I may, I would like to hear you thoughts on how either would benefit the instrument over all...

    One other thought is that LESS of an "extreme" fan may be very appealing as well... ???

    Subtle fan? Use only the 35" template...

    more extreme fan use the 35" for the bass side and the 34" for the treble side ???

    decisions decisions...
     
  2. Diek

    Diek

    May 25, 2003
    so I wrote a nice long reply, and took long enough to do it that the forum software decided I wasn't logged in anymore, and the thing didn't post. I'll explain my methods later if you ask, but otherwise I'm not typing it angain...

    First, how many strings and how are they tuned? The more strings, the greater difference you need between the bass and trebel side.

    Not too long ago, I figured mathmaticly the difference in scale length needed to get the same tension on the B and G strings of a five string bass, and found you need about three inches difference. Because my calculations were for an extra long scale bass, your results will be different, but the same principle applies. Because you're using a shorter scale length, you'll need less difference between the bass and trebel sides to get the same effect. If you're planning a five or six string instrument, using just the 34" template will give you about 3.5" difference, which should be plenty. If you have more strings, you may want to use a greater difference.

    You could also make your own templates, which would be more work but you could get the exact scale length you want without having to compromise.
     
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Q1: Do you have to use one of those templates? Why not use a fretting spreadheet and generate the exact sizes that you want?

    Q2: Don't forget, you also have to decide which fret is going to lie at a straight 90º to the neck axis - this is the other fan design factor. It affects the angles of all frets, and the bridge and pickups.

    Example1: Dingwall: each string increases by .750 in total length; 7th fret is straight; results in a "stagger" of .250 string-to-string at the nut, and .500 string-to-string (before compensation!) at the bridge.

    Example2: 12th fret straight, results in equal staggering at the nut (or zero-fret) and bridge.
     
  4. Diek

    Diek

    May 25, 2003
    There's other ways to figure how to angle the frets besides choosing a fret to make perpendicular and going from there. If you angle it too much at the nut, the nut might get in the way of the first fret on the lower strings. If angled too much at the bridge, the upper fret positions are more difficult to play.

    To solve these problems on the bass I'm designing (to be built as soon as I have the funds), I figured out using my current axe that I could play comfortably if the nut was angled back one inch. Once I figured out where the nut is going, I measured 35" from the bass side, and 32" from the treble side to locate the bridge.

    In my opinion, this is the better way to do it rather than just choosing which fret to be perpendicular for the same reason I recomend making your own templates for odd scale lengths instead of trying to find a compromise. With this way, you can figure out what will be best for you, then figure out where to put the frets, rather than figuring out where to put the frets THEN worrying about whether it will suit you.

    Then again, this is all just theory, as my designs have yet to leave the paper. Just throwing in my design ideas.
     
  5. Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Gregory Bruce Campbell

    Apr 14, 2002
    Helena, MT U.S.A 59602
    BEE basses, Morley pedals
    the first prototype has already been built...

    the low F# was 891 mm

    the high Bb was 801 mm

    I am having some issues with wrist pain, so the builder and I are shortening the scale...

    in addition one goal is to make the high Bb string be a wound string

    Pilot jones, you were actually very helpful in the beginnings of this project. thank you!

    I think i will look into getting the accurate scale lengths that i desire as many of you mentioned...
     
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    No argument here - what I was trying to say, but not as effectively as you did, was that the stagger at both ends, the angles of the frets in different areas, and consequentially, which fret (if any) lies dead perpendicular, are all interrelated.

    It is interesting, though, that what you chose to do is a 1" overall stagger at the nut, and a 3" overall string length variation, which will result in a 2" overall stagger at the bridge. This will again result in a 90º 7th fret, like a Dingwall. It seems that this configuration gives a comfortable 1st fret, while making it still not too much angle at the 24th fret.
     
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Here's a link to the thread with my spreadsheet. First sheet lets you figure tension vs. pitch vs. scale length vs. string gauge; last sheet is a universal scale length/fret position layout sheet; sheets in between are more complex stuff.
     
  8. Diek

    Diek

    May 25, 2003
    I hadn't considered that Measuring me drawings, it does make the 7th fret the closest to perpendicular. I'm glad I stoped lurking and posted to this thread: I answer a question AND I learn a flaw in my design all at once. I was planning on using a zero fret anyway, so I could move the nut back about half inch from the zero fret, then angle the nut end a bit more. I'll have to test that, see if it works.
     
  9. Skips

    Skips

    Feb 19, 2003
    I've been interested in making fanned fret basses as well, but as I understand it, you have to pay $75 for each bass for the patent to Novax. As I understand it, even if you use your own designs and not theirs, you still have to pay it if your strings have different scale lengths. Yet, it seems like a lot of you have done it...am I wrong about this?
     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Dingwall pays the fee. I remember hearing that Acacia did also. I can't comment on others.

    Ralph Novak is the inventor, and owns the patent on fanned fretting. While it's true that it is simple for anyone to just "do it," it is illegal and, if I am allowed to express a moral value in this world, wrong.

    The US patent laws provide a limited period of time of protection of exclusivity of rights to inventors. I personally agree with the opinion that existence and strength of the patent laws are a major reason why the US became a major economic power. If inventors don't see the profits of their inventions, they don't invent, and there is no technological progress.
     
  11. Diek

    Diek

    May 25, 2003
    Ralph Novak's pantent is number 4,852,250, for anyone who's interested. If I have my information right, patents last 20 years from the filing date, or 17 years from the issue date, whichever is longer, meaning his patent is still good, and therefore it is illegal to build without paying the fee.

    I haven't actually built one yet, just done a lot of reasearch. I've known people who built a fanned fret instrument without paying, but not getting caught doesn't make it right. When I build mine, I want to pay. The patent system does work, I don't want to mess with it. I've literaly been saving pennies trying to afford this project, and $75 is a lot of money when you're collecting it one cent at a time. But at the rate I'm going, by the time I save the extra money to pay the fee, the patent will be expired and I won't have to pay.

    Does anyone know if you're still required to pay if you're building an instrument for personal use, or only if you intend to sell it? I'm pretty sure the answer's not the one I want to hear, but it never hurts to ask. :D
     
  12. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Ralph Novak is the patent holder, and he brought this idea to the mainstream of modern instruments. There is a renaissance instrument called the orphereon, apparently, that was a multi-scale instrument that may or may not have inspired Novak.

    I'm interested to know whether or not it is acceptable to build one without the licensing fee for personal use as well. Obviously if I were ever going to sell one I would pay the fee but I'd like to think that I mess around with prototypes without running afoul of patent law. Anyone know a patent lawyer?
     
  13. Skips

    Skips

    Feb 19, 2003
    Same here, but with another twist--if I build it for personal use, and then later sell it as a used bass, will I run into problems?
     
  14. martens-koop

    martens-koop

    Oct 10, 2002
    Saskatoon
    I don't know anything about patent laws, but It stands to reason that if you are going to pay the licensing fee, prototypes should be allowed. (ie: if you build 3 necks and bridge setups until you find the one you are going to use, I'd assume you'd only pay the single licensing fee Why not call Mr Novak if your interested?)

    a note about Dingwall basses: there is actually no perfect 90degree fret. the scale length was decision was based on optimum scale length, and then placement was determined by ergonomic factors (ie: what "feels" right.) thus, you COULD have the nut at 90 degrees and then have one crazy bridge and a practicaly unplayable section of frets in the upper half. Or you could make the bridge 90 degrees and have the nut be really slanted. if you use a fairly conservative fan, you would then be able to make a Novax system that would fit onto your favourite fender body... I wouldn't fret about the 90 degree fret... put your thought into a comfortable design...

    Jeff Martens-Koop
    ps: these are just my 3 cents, but good luck with your designs! post pics when you can!!!
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Ok, ok, the Dingwall 7th fret is about 89.5°... the point was that at some point the frets cross the 90° mark and transition from fret slanting outward to slanting inward, unless you have one of the two ends set at 90°. My point was that you do not simply choose the first and last scale lengths, you also choose the zero fret and bridge slants, and, consequently, the 90° fret.
    As a matter of fact, take a look at the Novax Nex Fender bass replacement neck. For this they decided to go 35~34" scale, and accept the maximum adjustment available in a stock Fender bridge (after removing one saddle spring). The result is that the 15th or perhaps 16th fret is approximately perpendicular.
     
  16. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!
    Schmill,

    That orphereon you were talking about really sparked my interest.... SO I googled it and I have been reading about this gentleman by the name of Paul Galbraith. Real interesting stuff... He plays an 8 string fanned fret classical guitar based on this instrument:

    [​IMG]

    ... Also to note, he Paul performs with this 8 string as an upright.... He has a metal end pin that goes straight to a resonator wooden box.

    [​IMG]

    ... Any Fanned FBB's in the future?
     
  17. Woodboy

    Woodboy

    Jun 9, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    Part of the patent process is to divulge "prior art" to show how your idea is different and an improvement over existing technology. I find it hard to believe that Mr. Novak or his attorney divulged the orpharion or bandora (both ancient instruments that used fanned frets) to the patent examiner. The crux of the Novax idea is to use longer string lengths for the bass strings and incorporate them into one instrument. One of the reasons the orpharion and bandora used this configuration was that overspun strings were not invented then and they needed the longer length for the bass strings so they could use thinner wire. Novelty was a big part of instrument sound and appearance in those days too, so the unconventional look also added to its appeal. Expecting a patent examiner to know about the orpharion and bandora while judging the uniquness of the Novax patent application, is like expecting me to know how to take out an inflamed appendix.
     
  18. Skips

    Skips

    Feb 19, 2003
    You know, a Piano does this too.
     
  19. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    This is true. It is necessary in order to make it sound good.

    However, regarding the piano as a possible preexisting instrument that might negate the patent (others would include the koto and the hammer dulcimer), a piano is not a stringed fretted instrument.