What are the advan. of a slanted fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Daniel Baskin, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. I'm recently beginning to notice an explosion of these things. (Well, not an explosion, but a "bell" is starting to form in the exponential graph of things). I never see these things in the mainstream world, but I have seen them in BassNW, and some on this forum. In more detail, I mean the type of fret board on the new Conklin 9 forum. Or rather, the fret positioning on this bass...http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=193070

    My questions are: Are there any comprehensive websites that explain the history, advantages, disadvantages, etc. on this? If there aren't would any of you mind filling me or us in on these fret boards?
  2. Thanks...and wow, quick response. I was still going back and editing my message.
  3. yeah if all else fails use the search function, there have been a few threads on fanned frets - one particuarly brilliant one was started by a nice chap called THEMAJORRAGER. :hyper:
  4. Ralph Novax is really the grandfather of this concept for the modern ages, even thou multiscale instruments have been around for centuries.
    I believe all the info you need on fanned fretboard and multiscale instruments is containd on the novx website as was pointed out. If you want to see what those basses look like in application- check out www.dingwallguitars.com
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Yes, and maybe post a question over at the new Dingwall message board...you'll definitely get some opinion from fanned fret owners, not to mention Sheldon Dingwall himself.

    Much discussion of the fanned fret boards seems to center on those frets, how they look, how hard it is to play. Yes, they do look pretty striking, but the bass isn't any harder than any straight scale bass. I've noticed that anyone who picks up my bass can play it without hesitation and no adjustment time. Honestly, when looking down at the fretboard from above, you can hardly see the difference, unless you look above the 12th.

    The multi-scale and fanned frets DO have a big effect on playability and sound though.

    -The strings have a more even string tension across the board. On my 34 inch scale basses I find myself being very comfortable on the G and D strings but found the E and A to be a bit to loose for my liking. Not so on a Dingwall. The strings do feel more similar across the board, I can play just as fast and precisely on the low E or B strings as I can on the D and G strings. This also seems to show in the way that the bass is even in volume and tonal characteristic across all the strings too. People tend to talk about the benefit in playing in terms of the low B only, which is sad, as the bass really shines across all the strings.

    -Tonally, the bass also experiences a benefit over the 'standard' bass. The longer speaking length of the strings across the board translates into a more precise, defined and clear tone (ie 'focus'), all the way down to the low B. This has been a boon for me, since I play reggae, and can keep the traditional low heavy/no treble sound while having better definition and punch than a traditional bass. This isn't to say the bass doesn't have those highs...I just EQ them out for my sound. When playing other types of music, I find the bass also has good useable mids and highs, but I would guess its in large part due to the strings, pickups and wood choices. I also find my Dingwall to be the quickest bass I've played...the notes open up surprisingly fast! If this were a car, it would have the acceleration of a Ferrari, not a Taurus.

    -Ergonomically, the fanned frets definitely help. The angle flows from nearly parallel around the 7-9th frets, and you'll find the angle, as it sharpens further out, moves in the same way that your arm and wrist want to cant. It keeps your hand and arm in a good playing position and in my world, reduces some of the strain and pain during long play times (we average 3 hours per show, sometimes doing multiple gigs in a day).

    In terms of disadvantages...well, if you buy a fanned fret bass, there are only a few choices of makers without getting into high end custom work. Luckily, the main builder of fanned fret basses is exceptional, and the entry level models are probably less $$$ than you think. You also need to consider the fact that not all strings are going to fit on your bass, there are only a few choices of strings that will work, and you may need to order in the stuff you do need. Also, if you're a gear tweaker, you'll probably have a problem, you can't switch out bridges easily or get a stock replacement neck from Warmoth, etc.

    Also, if you don't want people to come up to you after your time on stage and talk about your bass, this isn't the bass for you. I have had people come up to ask questions at 95% of the shows I play. Its been a nice icebreaker in meeting a bunch of intelligent folks.

    I bought one without ever playing it...I spent a lot of time reviewing all the information I could find, comparing it to what I knew about basses with 20 years of playing experience, and found that it all made perfect sense to me on a logical/analytical/mechanical level and was something I certainly wanted to try. I'm now working towards my second, and while still owning 'normal' basses and even playing them occasionally, I'm sold on the fanned frets.
  6. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    I'd guess (and someone can correct me) that a disadvantage would be a limited selection of strings to choose from, due to the scale of the B string.

    That said, Dingwalls sound and play great! I just checked out one yesterday at http://basses-electric-acoustic.com and it was killer!!! I was honestly surprised that it wasn't harder for me to play. I was thoroughly impressed.

  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    You could call it a disadvantage, you definately need to keep track of your string stash because you can't fly down to GC and buy them off the shelf. There are some other string manufactures that will fit, but I've never tried them, and I believe they're probably Special Order in most cases anyway. One thing I can say is in well over 20 years of playing I have found Dingwall Strings to be among the BEST SOUNDING strings I have heard. More importantly they are tops in consistancy, which is how I measure the quality of strings. Never had a dud, never had one break, never had the wrong size string(s) in the pack, and I've been through plenty of packs over a number of years. The prices are very much in line with what you would expect to pay for a premium string, very fairly priced.
    What I consider more of a disadvantage is that I cannot get Dingwall strings for my standard scale instruments so I am still bouncing around between brands, mostly satisfied, but never happy.
    I've heard rumors that there may soon be flats available from Dingwall, if it's true it's very exciting.