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why not fanned frets on all basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by themajorrager, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. just something to ponder over... if fanned fretts improve intonation - and i have no doubt that they do - then why arent they being put on all basses or g**tars?
    is it a matter of cost? if so then why arent they on all the boutique basses or say basses over the US$1000 mark?
  2. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Cause fanned frets scare people. I dont know why, but they do. Some people are just used to parallells as well, and have a hard time adapting to something new, or just dont want too. I say the more out there there is, the better though. We wouldnt want to see everyone playing the same bass all over the place, or this place would be boring hehe.
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    1) It's patented, like the Buzz Feiten tuning system, so manufacturers would have to pay a licensing fee.

    2) Fanned frets require some adaptation as far as fretting technique, which is a jump some of us are not willing to make.

    3) If you had two identical basses, one with a fanned fret system and one without, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two in a live setting.

    Cost vs. benefit. That's what it's all about.
  4. Sutton


    Mar 3, 2005
    Plainwell, MI
    I'd love to get one, but at this point, they are so rare. 99% of fanned fretted basses are hand built, they dont have any factory made cheap fanned fretted basses yet, so thats probably why we dont see them. Nobody wants to put $1300 dollars on a bass with fanned frets if they dont know they want fanned frets, or can even play it. They need to make more cheap fanned frets, so we can buy those, and not be in too big of a lost if we hate them
  5. I have never played a Dingwall. However, I personnaly prefer the feel of a 34" scale neck. I don't like the added distance between frets that you get in a longer scale bass. If I understand it correctly the scale on a fanned fret bass changes between the strings. I'm sure that results in a great sounding B string but I'm not sure I would find it comfortable.

    The 5 string that I build has a 35" scale neck simply because I feel the B string of a 35" sounds better than a 34".

    All of my personal basses are 4-string 34" because thats the feel I like.
  6. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Have you actually tried this? That completely dissagrees with my experience.
  7. Fanned frets are still incredibly esoteric in their appeal. Not to mention the amalgam of correct reasons Blackbird had mentioned.
  8. I'm not sure the Novax fanned board helps w/ intonation. what it does is allows proper speaking lengths for each string, it also evens out the tension of each string, allowing tight B strings and not so tight G strings. You really do feel it when playing

    As for why many basses don't use fanned frets
    1)- Players are scared of it.
    Which is fallacy number 1. it will take you longer to pread this post than to get comfortable on the bass
    I understand what Blackbird has written but it really hasn't required me to relearn my fretboard. I even play a novax fanned fretless bass (ask pete Skjold he played it sight-unseen and played it well)

    Common misconceptions about the Novax fanned fetboard
    1)- its difficult to play. Rubbish, its feels no different than a regular parallel board, if you chord alot above the 15th fret, you'll have to looks
    2) the liscencing Fee costs money- yes but its not expensive. the website states it $75/instrument. My guess is if you mass produce them the price will go down.
    3)- there harder to make. you make jigs to slot your fretboards. Again if mass produced shouldn't be a problem.
    You can decide on whatever your two scales are. Mr Dingwall has instruments w/ 36.25 E strings or 34.25" E string. My SuperJ has a 35" E string.

    I think it makes a measureable and tactile difference in playing, but to each his own.
  9. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    Speaking length has an awful lot to do with what you hear - live or otherwise.

    Timbre is affected mightily by even the slightest of variations particularly on the treble side, and about the best way to tell is to do some 'sperimenting should you be fortunate to own the likes of a Dingwal. If you take one of his 5'ers and compare the nature of it tuned B-G then restring/retune it E-C you will see instantly what I mean.

    count_funkula - the best reason for fanned frets is the ergonomics. Your hand movements up and down the fretboard reflect the natural angle, elbow to index finger, that your body prefers and novax frets offer if executed properly.

    I will do a novax instrument within the year. I committed to extreme scale length because of the timbral improvement to normal tunings (the exterme lows were a perk), but I see a need for something ergonomic for those who prefer a choice.
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I humbly have to admit I haven't had the opportunity, but I'm thinking not only of the bass per se, but of the bigger picture and its place in an ensemble with blaring guitars and drums, etc.

    I'd like to read about your experiences, Sheldon. After all you probably know more about this than anyone, with the exception of Gary Novak himself.

    FCM3: I'm sure you don't have to relearn the fretboard, but I have read there's a minor learning curve involved for some players.

    These instruments fascinate me and I'd like to get an Afterburner someday.
  11. I remember reading that there was a time(60's or 70's, I think) when there were a few instruments available with slanted though still parallel frets. Supposedly this was also for reasons of ergonomics yet never caught on.
    I agree that a large part of fanned are not found on most instruments has to do with the conservatism of many players. Time will tell if fanned frets will become an excentric blip in instrument history or if they become a popular option on many instruments.
  12. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    i personally dont know much at all about fanned frets. :confused: could any of you be so kind as to post a link to the company that makes them (has them licensed or whatever) or show some pics thanks.
  13. I should have played Juneau's Dingwall at the last GTG. Better yet, I should have stolen Juneau's Dingwall at the last GTG. :bag:

    There was also a really cool 4-string P/J there.

    Knuckle Head,

    I see what your saying. It's probably the best way to build a bass with a really long scale (36.25" at the B) and still make it comfortable to play. Imagine a bass where all the strings were 36.25"........That would impart a wicked case of carpal tunnel syndrome...... :eek:
  14. johnp352


    Aug 19, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK

    Just this morning, I posted a request here for info on a 5 string bass, with a high C instead of low B. One of my requirements was that it be a "medium" scale, by which I mean 32 or 33" inch. I requested this due to my experience in playing baritones/"Bass VI's in different tunings, and hearing what a difference in timbre scale length makes. the responses here were to stick a High c on a regular 34 or 35 low B 5..

    anyway, i had looked at the Novax, and it made a lot of sense..HOWEVER..I also saw that the scale length for the Charlie Hunter 8 was a short 28.5" for the bass E string..I have a Jerry Jones 28.5" baritone..tuned a-a, and that is about right..dropping it to e would not be so right .

    I would think the shorter, "medium" (I am calling it that) scale of 32 or 33 would be a lot better for the High C..the bass I played that was like that was the Garrison Elite Fodera..and it's worth it..but my wallet isn't..worth..ok..you get it.

    any suggestions here for a 5 with what I am looking for?
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Why? Because 34" and 35" has worked for years, it's the standard. People are more comfortable with what's there and are usually intimidated by something new.

    Regular basses work for me, there's no reason for me to change.
  16. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Blackbird, forgive me if I sounded harsh.

    Dense mixes are where our basses shine. The more transparent an instrument is, the more present it can be in the mix without stepping all over the rest of the instruments. Plus in a live situation where room ambience is usually a real problem, transparency of tone goes a long way to keeping things audible and intelligible.

    In most cases when we A/B live, the parallel fret 34" scale bass can be heard and felt, but you can't really hear the individual notes too clearly - if at all - when there's a lot going on in the mix. With the fanned-fret bass, same volume, same player, same rig, you can distinguish individual notes to the point where you can almost hear the fingers on the strings.

    I've had a chance to hear our instruments many times in a 2000 seat concert hall and our bass makes the guitars and keyboards sound really small by comparison. It's not a subtle thing.

    I should mention that there's more going on here than just the fanned-frets, but they are a big part of it.

    Lastly, I understand reluctance to change. I was pretty much the last guy to upgrade to a CD player from cassettes. At the time I thought cassettes sounded fine, CD's were expensive and I'd have to buy my whole collection over again yada, yada. Now I can't stand to listen to a cassette or worse yet, try to find a song on one. I had the same experience with DVDs - I guess I'm slow to learn.

    For some it makes sense to hang on to a tone and feel they are used to. For others, the benefit of noticeably better clarity and focus far outweighs the temporary adjustment period. To each his own.
  17. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    When we come out with the Super J 5, the scale length will be 32" to 35". That might fit your needs.
  18. I've got the "stick in the mud" view right here!

    At the Orlando GTG Gard put on a coupla years ago, I had the chance to pick up a Dingwall 5 and give her a whirl. I'm a died in the wool 4 stringer and though I like 35" scales but I have only one at the moment and don't play it much. I must also add that I'm not a decent player by any stretch of the imagination and the rankest among us could smoke my bacon with a Hondo sporting a broken string. :(

    That said, I was able to play the 36" Dinger with just about 3 minutes of adjustment. Most of that was simply getting over the amazement of the instrument itself. The different scales only had the slightest difference in feel way down at C on the B string and I attribute most of this to the extended scale. Beyond that, it was pretty easy and if I had been more of a player I would have been even more comfortable with the fanned fret® layout.

    Sorry Blackbird!
  19. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.

    Im having a Skjold made with fanned frets. 6 string, 35"-33". Very gradual fan.

    Oh and Hambone, the Dingwall B is 37", not 36" :)