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Fanned frets

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by zontar, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I'm interested in hearing about people's experiences with fanned frets.
    I found several references to fanned frets, but spread out over a variety of threads, so I thought I'd ask in one place so it would be easier to look it up.

    I was always curious about them, and then I saw one and got to try it.

    It wasn't as odd as I thought it would be (Although it could be more awkward for guitar than bass.)

    While I liked it, I didn't like it enough to get one yet--maybe in the future.

    SO--if you like fanned frets-WHAT do you like about them?
    What are advantages and disadvantages for you?

    If you don't like them--why NOT?

    And as a bonus--has anybody ever tried, or even seen a fanned fret fretless bass? (In other words where the frets would be are fanned, but there are no frets.)

    Thanks for all that share.
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I have played lots. The adjustment time was honestly less than a minute, they felt pretty natural. If you are playing with lots of harmonics and double stops/chords you will take a little more adjustment; this is especially true if you are thinking of a getting a 5 or 6 string.

    Some people don't like fanned B strings as you have to play a little further from the bridge than some like; the obvious advantage is that nothing sounds like a 37"+ B string. Your B string will ring great with sustain all the way up the neck.
  3. d00by


    Jul 7, 2013
    NE Iowa
    I have a fanned fret Dingwall and absolutely love it. I actually bought it without trying it first and was not disappointed. Like diabolus said, the adjustment was practically instant. You cant really tell they're fanned until you get to the higher frets, and the fanning of the higher frets makes them easier because your hand naturally turns that direction.

    And wow does that low b sound awesome. By bass is in drop Ab (Ab Eb Ab Db Gb) and the low Ab sounds incredible.
  4. bassofthe


    Jun 5, 2011
    I love my Dingwalls. For me, the 37" scale for the low F# was a big part of why I got one, and the concept makes a lot of sense to me. More clarity on the lower strings without the higher strings needing to be ultra thin. I also find it more comfortable for my left hand.

    And yes, I do indeed have a multiscale six-string fretless.
  5. simenandreas


    Jan 23, 2011
    I have some wrist problems.. Playing a lot in like the low f-minor on a 34" 4-string can sometimes hurt because of the stretch. Do you have to stretch longer on a dingwall, or is the scale balanced with the bridge longer back so it is pretty much the same length to stretch to? Dingwalls sounds awesome!
  6. bassofthe


    Jun 5, 2011
    I don't find the stretch to be a problem at all. I can comfortably play the first fret on the lowest string of my Dingwall sixes.
  7. Zoomie


    Jan 26, 2012
    East Tennessee
    My two main basses are Dingwalls. Super P5 and Super J5.
    Adjustment time was less than a couple of minutes.

    The biggest difference that I have noted is that wrist angle is so much more intuitive and ergonomically comfortable. You won't notice it when you move to fanned frets, but when you go back to a conventional after playing on fanned for any length of time, it feels like your driving a box truck.

    Do I hate regular fretted instruments now? No. But I can tell you that it now totally detracts from my personal interest.

    Very good question on the fanned fretless. I have to assume that the few Dingwall Fretless models that I have seen are in fact fanned, based on the variable scale bridge.

    You can inquire on the Dingwall thread to get some thoughts from someone that owns one.
  8. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I may have to try one, but to be honest it looks like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist
  9. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    In my limited experience the fanned fret thing seems to make the most sense with 5 strings and/or drop tunings as most of the fanned fret basses you will see have a 37" scale at their longest. I would be curious, however, to try a 4 string super J or P where the E is a regular 34" scale and then it shortens up to the G string. Seems like you would get a standard snappy E with a more thick, thumpy, short scale-ish G string. True?
  10. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Far better intonation and even string tension across all strings. Longest scale Dingwalls have the clearest B ever! Only downside IME is that chords above 12 are harder to finger.
  11. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I love mine. While I had it that is. Neck was just too wide for me near the heal. The only adjusting I had to do was on the upper board 12th fret and above. Since I am an active all over the board kind of player, getting used to the 12th fret + was the only thing that was any sort of challange and it took all of 10 minutes of playing to get into the mindset of those fanned frets. Under the 12th fret was no playing difference at all, but there was higher comfort on the lower frets.
  12. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I wonder if you could get a fanned fret bass where the fan wasn't as pronounced and the middle of the fan was at the base of the neck or the bridge.
  13. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    My first Dingwall (AB-1) got me curious to try one of Sheldon's tributes to Leo's classic designs. I've said it before, and I'll go ahead and repeat myself - Leo would be honored and amazed with how well they turned out. The scales are 34.25-32". My SJ-4 and SP-4 are inspirational to play. The tones are more similar to Leo's classic designs than the long-scale Dingwalls. I've been playing fanned frets since '07 and am completely spoiled. ;) The five Dingwalls I have owned/played have minimal resonances (dead spots). From my limited experience, it seems the multi-scale design promotes even response and that's always an advantage in my book. :D

    Yes, fretless Dingwall basses are multi-scale.
  14. wild4oldcars


    Jan 22, 2012
    Garner, NC
    Well, the scale has to be even across each string... you can't really control where or where not a fan lays without changing the scale length on multiple strings
  15. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    I too was curious about fanned frets and finally got to
    test a beautiful Dingwall. I love the look and the high quality
    build but the fanned frets just didn't do it for me.

    In the middle of the neck they're in the middle of the fan
    and barely slanted at all so it feels very natural to play there.

    At the first fret a low F on the E string is a "reach" and not
    natural feeling at all to me. And if you play way up on the
    neck above the 12th fret, it's a real stretch/reach to the
    low E string and A string.

    I was saddened a bit because I really wanted to like them and
    think they look really cool, but it was a "no-go" for me.

    Like everything else, it boils down to personal preference.
  16. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Actually on a fanned fret layout the scale is already different on each string. There is no reason for the ends (bridge and nut) to have the same angle outwards from the top as far as I can tell. You could set it up so the bridge side was flat and the nut fanned and they'd still be different scale lengths, just not as pronounced. While this would take out some of the benefit from the fan by reducing the difference from one string to the opposite (E to G on a standard bass) it would also eliminate the reverse fanning beyond the 12th fret. Or if the bridge were just angled less then the middle of the fan, where the fret is 90 degrees from the strings, could be at the 24th fret (assuming 24 frets of course). Am I mistaken?
  17. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That's completely wrong. You could make the bridge straight across or the nut on a custom instrument, or anything in between. The way it is commonly done with the middle of the fan at the 12th fret splits the difference so the angle isn't too extreme at either end of the neck.

    B strings not sounding good enough on 34" scale is a problem that exists.
    Need Gigs likes this.
  18. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    But not on all basses, the low B on my Warwick FNA and on both of the LXs I've owned were quite strong and clear. You could say good design in general is the solution to bad low B string sounds.
  19. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    No. You can have all kinds of control over the angle of the fan or the center of the fan. The physics of the concept is that nut, bridge and all frets have to converge at a single point. You could move that point in very close to the neck and have an extreme fan, or move it way out for a very slight angle of fan. And just because someone will comment on standard nut, bridge and frets being parallel... parallel lines are said to (theoretically) converge at infinity. This is not a new concept with Dingwall, fanned fret instruments were being made in the 18th century.
  20. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Even with good design I think B's sound better at longer scale.