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Fanned Frets??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MikeyFingers, Mar 18, 2006.


  1. I'm just looking for an explanation of the "fanned fret" style. I've seen them a few times, I know I've seen Jean Baudin playing them, but I can't figure what the point of it is. Different tuning? Does it even effect the tuning?
     
  2. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I think it's an ergonomic thing, but I'm sure there's more to it.
     
  3. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    fanned frets are when each string is set to a different scale. For the lower thicker strings, you want more tension, so you make that string a longer scale, then the string above that, is maybe an inch or less forward depending on the scale, then the next and so on. So you can have a 36" scale E string (though I think it's more popular with an F#) and and a 32" sale or so for the highest string. It's actually pretty cool and the inventor had to be smart to figure this out.

    I myself have never played a fanned fret bass, but I love looking at them and wishing I could have one (JP). From what Ive heard from other, it takes a little while to get chording back and stuff, but it's not too hard to switch. It'd be interesting to have a fanned fret and a normal fretted 4 as your main 2 instruments, I think it'd get kind of confusing at first.

    Greg
     
  4. AxtoOx

    AxtoOx

    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I play both, it takes very little getting used to. Your fingers seem to fit naturally and I switch back and forth, I'm never giving up my F Bass, but I really like my Dingwalls. The Low strings are tighter, not as loose as a normal B and Dingwall is famous for it's B string, the E is not bad either.
    The only drawback is there is a longer stretch in some cases, but the way I play it doesn't bother me. The examples I have been given I would never use. I recommend it.
    Dingwalls are great Basses.
     
  5. Cool, thanks guys.
    It seems like it would be hard to get used to. Seems like the higher strings (D & G) would have their frets closer together then the lower strings. I imagine that would be pretty wierd when playing. I gotta try one of them out myself if I ever get the chance.
     
  6. AxtoOx

    AxtoOx

    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I never notice but I just looked at both of mine. Maybe slightly in mid neck, but you have to be looking for it. If you get hold of a Dingwall, I know they are not the only ones even Wish has one on E-bay, they sound great so that's a plus and I really don't know how much of that is due to the Fanned Frets or the Pickups.
     
  7. King V

    King V

    Dec 13, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    I've played fellow TB'er Mark Roberts 8 string and 9 string Stambaughs. I actually found the fanned fretted 9 string more comfortable than the standard fretted 8 string. Thus I ordered my Stambaugh 9 with fanned frets.

    It's pretty brilliant actually, the way the frets fan out seem to be at the angle at which your fingers are anyway depending on where you are on the neck. And man does it help the playability on ERB's lower registers.

    Personally I love it, it might be hard for me to go back to standard fretting. :help:
     
  8. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I did not know that. I did think that it was new. Novax has a patent for this?
     
  9. Smallmouth_Bass

    Smallmouth_Bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    Canada
    The concept is the same as a piano; you need a longer scale length to make the lower notes come out with definition and sound bright. You can also get a more even tension from string to string. You often hear that many basses have floppy B-strings. Not so with fanned frets.

    I am a Dingwall player and the fanned frets take a few minutes to get used to. There's a little bit of an extra stretch in the lower end and if you jump up high quickly, you have to look carefully, but I have not played a better bass. They sound so clear that going back is a bit of a downer.

    If you have never played one, you should get your hands on one and try it out.
     
  10. Yes he holds a patent and in some circles of the instrument building "community" it is a bit controversial.

    Peace,
    S
     
  11. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    There's been a lot of coverage of the patent for this to Novax, and also the original fanned fret instruments that date back to rennaisance times and before...if you check the luthier's corner, there's a thread about it.

    There's more to fanned fret instruments than meets the eye. The benefits are also multiple. First off, yes you have more even string tension across the board. Imagine playing a bass where the low B string has the same tightness and quick response and string feel that the G string does! Also imagine a bass where the volume and tone is a LOT more balanced across the fretboard, as well as down it! The speaking length of the string also adds to the clarity of the note, which lends itself to presence in a live situation. The B string is often described as having a 'pianolike' tone. :) Now, if you add in the fact that on a player/ergonomic level, the way the frets slant also works WITH the way your wrist and arm bend, you have better hand position, less fatigue and more comfort while playing.

    Everyone thinks that it would be difficult to play a fanned fret instrument...right up to the time they actually pick one up. It's literally seconds (not minutes) before you're comfortable. As a guy who straps one of these on pretty much every day, I can say that when looking down at the fretboard from above, the frets look parallel, and your fingers have little problem finding the right place. Once you get up past 12, things can get a bit more tricky, but if I can do it, so can you. I have first timers pick up my bass from time to time, and they have no problem figuring out how to play it!

    I would welcome anyone who has questions about fanned frets to check out the Dingwall message board...we're all FF players, and Sheldon Dingwall, the luthier with the most experience in this area answers most questions personally.