Has this been done? Bass with different fretboard woods for sharps?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by kirkdickinson, Oct 8, 2016.

  1. Chico Ruger

    Chico Ruger

    Dec 11, 2014
    Western NC
    Not that i know of. Am i missing something?
  2. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    I mostly play fretless, but when I use frets, I usually reach for my Dingwall Combustion. I am not quite sure I am up for a fretless Dingwall. That seems like a level exponentially above my skill level. I might have to do a mockup on that design on a Dingwall just to see how it would look though. The crazy patterns would even look crazier at angles. Might even be something Sheldon would do in his custom shop... that is if I had a car to sell to pay for it. :)
  3. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    Can I see? Please! LOL PM me if you don't want to share here.
  4. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    OK, I went a little crazy in Corel. Someone in one of the posts said something about centering the blocks on the frets. So, I took the narrowest spacing and used that width to put inlays over the center over the fret. Or fret position assuming fretless.

    Did another and added fretlines.

    Why not go crazy, I did reverses of all three.

    The 3rd drawing down looks very much like a piano design. Might be very confusing for a fretless player who doesn't know their notes well. And might really mess with someones head who uses the the standard inlay markers to keep position. :) Side dots in the normal position would be all I would need to hit the ground running with any of these designs.
  5. My drawing is pretty crude, with no attempt at proportions or nut-to-bridge widening. I just used one of those geometry pads with squares, each square representing a half-step lengthwise and a string space heightwise. So 6 x 24 squares. And the basic pattern is pretty similar to your much better renderings. One interesting finding is that on a six-string there are no solid black lines; the maximal coverage for the 'black keys' is five strings. I'll definitely PM you a better drawing when I have time to draw it up with the bass body design I have in mind, but it will still be hand-drawn. The builder will have to do the actual mock-up and engineering. And then, if I go through with it, I'll post pics of the completed bass (in 6-12 months' time).

    Anyway, once again, congrats on a great new idea! And I like your latest renderings, although my sense is that having the black keys fill up all of the half-step space would work best for me. The centered keys look really cool but I don't know if they would screw with my perceptions. The only way to find out is do some kind of mock-up with adhesives I guess, but I don't know if I want to gum up my current six-string fretlesses experimenting. I'll do my best to come to a conclusion just trying to visualize playing your different designs I guess.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  6. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    So... I tried to drop designs onto a Dingwall. For some reason stretching the fret scale doesn't result in frets that line up with Dingwall's frets. I imagined if I stretched the top that it would maintain the scale proportions, apparently it is more complicated than I thought.

    The frets toward the middle of the neck on the B string are way out of whack. Not sure I understand why? On the Dingwall, the 7th fret is vertical and on my design the 9th or 10th one is. Weird.
  7. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    That is because in the Circle of 4ths/5ths, there are only 5 sharps in a row. BEADGCFA#D#G#C#F#B

    If you had a 7 string bass, you would still have white going all the way across wherever there was a B on the lowest string.
    Bare Bass likes this.
  8. Yep, and it's almost tempting to try this on a seven-string. I thought I had my design all set, but now you're making me think long and hard about your idea!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier

    From a builder's view, any of the designs that you've shown above could be done. But the ones with the rounded ends would be several times more expensive than the squared blocks. The rounded end blocks would have to be done more like an inlay, individually routed and fitted. That's a couple hundred bucks of extra work.

    As Sheldon will tell you, the geometry of fanned fret (multi-scale) instruments is more complicated than it first appears. The frets can be laid out with the neutral fret (the perpendicular one) in different positions. Some model Dingwalls have the neutral at the 7th, others are at the 10th or 12th. All of the fanned fret necks I've made so far have had the neutral at the 12th, because that's what the clients have wanted. It's up to the instrument designer. And, even a straight-on photograph can have some optical distortion. If you wanted to do one of these "keyboard" style fingerboards on a fanned fret instrument, it would have to be accurately measured to determine the real geometry.
  10. tlc1976


    Aug 2, 2016
    I agree, that was my thought when I mentioned having them on center of the "fret". Having the dark zones occupy just as much equivalent real estate as the light zones. Although the thin black piano key look is an interesting look, that's something I hadn't thought of.
    Bare Bass and kirkdickinson like this.
  11. Well, I talked to Chris Stambaugh about trying this fingerboard design. He said he could only do it on a fretted instrument. I'm only interested in fretless. Then I talked to Moses Graphite about it. Steve said they could do it as Paduak block inlays with 1/8" borders (it's amazing how Moses can accommodate almost any design concept). So the orangey brown of the Paduak would represent the white or natural keys, and the surrounding graphite would represent the black or flat/sharp keys. Upcharge would be $500. The 1/8" borders would effectively serve as fretlines, but would merge with the black blocks. Unfortunately, the wood inlays would wear whereas the graphite wouldn't, so this would only work if I used Tapewounds, or possibly flatwounds, or was willing to replace the inlays from time to time.

    I'm seriously considering it. Any thoughts?
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  12. i hate username

    i hate username

    Jan 9, 2006
    Personally i really like the pattern in blocks. The rounded corners put me in mind of text message bubbles on my phone. If i saw this in the wild i seriously doubt i would think learning tool either. Probably take me a half a year to realise its sharps and flats unless someone told me :)
    Will_White likes this.
  13. Gopherbassist


    Jan 19, 2008
    Before I saw this thread, it had never occurred to me that in standard tuning, sharps and flats don't interrupt each other across the strings.
    kirkdickinson and Bare Bass like this.
  14. iamprowla


    Nov 28, 2016
    It'd be cool to have an LED neck which changed the patterns to include all of those (and in colours)!
    kirkdickinson and Bare Bass like this.
  15. Here's a rough idea of how the Moses neck would look like through the first 12 half-steps:
    IMG_2420.JPG IMG_2422.JPG
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  16. iamprowla


    Nov 28, 2016
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  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    So what happens when you tune to E flat?
  18. Not sure if this was directed at my project, but if it was, I'm designing a six-stringer with standard B-C tuning, so no real need for alternate tunings, although I am thinking about getting de-tuners on every string. If I go through with the latter, it would mostly be for drone-type stuff once in a while. Since I look at the neck from the side, I don't think the inlays would influence my perception too much--I'd still rely on the side dots. And my everyday mode would still be straight B-C tuning, so no real need to tune the strings lower than they already are (B0 is about as low as I want to go). The low Eb (Eb1) sits nicely on the fourth half-step of the B string.

    In practice, it would probably be best to choose between the two options though. Either go with the piano inlays, or the six de-tuners, since they do conflict conceptually a bit. That would save a little money too.
    Agreed, I have pretty high confidence in Moses getting it right. Here's what the inlays look like on a fretted bass:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
  19. Yah, it's also cool when you follow the pattern up a single string; you see the piano keyboard quite clearly.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  20. iamprowla


    Nov 28, 2016
    I don't think D-tuners would work on every string.
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