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Fanned Frets, Multiscale, Whatever They Are Actually Called.


Blackdog
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I've been playing guitar for more years than I dare to confess, but I'm still to see one of these in the flesh. Let alone play one...

I'm interested in the concept and would like to include on in my future builds list. But how is it to play one of these ??

Are they specially good for some styles or good for basically anything ??

Are they a completely different animal to play or you basically hardly notice the difference ??

I'm essentially trying to understand what I'd be getting into if I build one. You experienced comments will be greatly appreciated.

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It really depends on the difference in scale lengths, as well as where the parallel fret is.

I play both a multiscale bass (34-37") and guitar (25.5 - 28"). The bass was relatively easy to get the hang of. After fiddling with it for a couple of hours, I got the feel of it. The guitar took some more getting used to. Barre chords in the lower registers aren't exactly simple, but it's rare that I'd go to that guitar for strumming stuff anyway -- it's a metal axe through and through.

What they are good at is getting people's attention. At every gig, at least one person asks about it -- and I'm just the lowly bass player :D

FYI, as far as the nomenclature, "Fanned Fret" is a registered trademark of Novax Guitars. "Multiscale" is the generic description that won't get you sued if you end up selling a bunch of them :D

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FYI, as far as the nomenclature, "Fanned Fret" is a registered trademark of Novax Guitars. "Multiscale" is the generic description that won't get you sued if you end up selling a bunch of them :D

actually thats incorrect. as far as i am aware the innacurate novax term of 'fanned fret' is an expired patent (never extended outside the US??), mutliscale is a trademark owned by Perry Ormsby. I am not sure if anyone has claimed 'compound scale length' yet!

so i could call a guitar fanned fret and get away with it, to call it multiscale i need Perry's permission

as for how they play, this is what the guy i just made one for said on another forum. he had never even touched a guitar like this before sunday.. he keeps calling it fanned fret but i want to move away from that term because it is innacurate

playing a fanned fret is so natural! I had actually kind of forgotten that is was fanned fret when I first held the guitar, because the feel of the wood is really mesmerising - this is one tactile guitar! By the time I realised that the frets weren't exactly where I was expecting them, my fingers had already found where they should be - it really is like second nature, and I know from seeing videos of others picking up fanned frets for the first time that it's not just me...

re: chords - I find them exactly the same, if not a bit easier on this guitar. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it's a very natural shape when you put your hand in that position. Of course, it helps that the neck is Godly, too

important considerations are the difference in scale length and where you choose to put your perpendicular fret (centre of fan if you prefer). so far i have kept the difference at 1" or 1.5" with the perp being around the 7th... i have not gone for an extreme difference yet

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Not to get away from the original topic, but Ralph Novax holds the trademark for the phrase "Fanned Fret", which is different than his patent (which is still live -- patent no. 4852450). I was unable to find any documentation for a registration of "Multiscale", by Perry or otherwise.

At any rate, Blackdog, go ahead and build it! It offers some different challenges and they're a blast to play.

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No doubt perry will come along and confirm his stance on the mutliscale thing but i will quote something he wrote on UG

Ralph Novak owns the patent on FANNED FRETS, which also covered pretty much anything with angled frets. He went to the trouble of getting these style guitars into the mainstream, despite it being 'prior art' 400 years ago. If it wasn't for Ralph Novak, no one would be building fanned fret, or multiscale guitars.

Ralphs patent ran out last year. He no longer charges for licensing. If someone thought that a once off $150 fee for the rights to use an idea they wouldnt have developed themselves, is too expensive, then, well, I guess thats just too bad.

(for the record, i use a different, more accurate way of laying out the frets, than Ralph's system)

I own the trademark on MULTISCALE MULTI-SCALE and MULTI SCALE (or any other way you want to describe/spell it). This is a BRAND NAME and not a patent. Like COCA COLA is a brand name, but doesn't cover the secret formula for making it, or KFC is the brand name, but doesn't cover the eleven secret spices. I cant stop someone from building fanned frets, or guitars that look like they have Multiscale fretboards, but i can stop people using the NAME. Im so sick of my ideas being copied out there Ive decided to take action to protect MY BUSINESS.

I guess its the same if cord's business name Rock Monkey was used by someone else. Im sure he would be pissed off, and want something done about it after all the hard work he has put in building up that brand. And he deserves that right, but he doesn't have that right without a trademark (registered business or trading names are lower on the pecking order than trademarks).

Im not worried about someone who is making a one off, and using the name to describe it. But my lawyers will be all over someone who sells a guitar, guitar parts, or even guitar merchandise, and refers to the name Multiscale without prior permission.

I don't even get a say, i just get a letter at the end of each month, with a list of people they have taken action against (and if someone has been taken to court, i get a cheque!). Of course, it is then up to that person if they choose to keep using it and face the full force of the court system, stop using it, or agree to the FREE licensing plan. I think that FREE LICENSING is a pretty damn generous offer really, but I'm sure some one is going to want to stand all high and mighty and doesn't realise how much it will cost him when he gets dragged through court... defense lawyers for trademarks tend to be a lot more expensive than your average lawyer, and when they lose the case, they are forced to pay for the winning legal team costs too (plus a sum for 'trademark dilution'). I doubt too many lawyers will take on a defense case against trademark infringement though... its pretty much a no win situation. Of course, some lawyers don't care if they don't have a chance to win, they get paid anyway, right?

There is a heap of stuff on wiki if you want to learn more about trademarks, its pretty interesting stuff.

currently i am just building the damn things and not worrying too much about terminology, although i realise i used the term multiscale before i knew perry had it trademarked and have discussed this with him

and i do think this relates to the original topic.... anyone building one needs to know what to call it!

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I completely agree 100% with Perry about protecting your intellectual property.

We've been using the term "multiscale" for years (but I believe erikbojerik was the first to use it on the forum), I even made sure to do a trademark search prior to using it to describe the ones I've built. It can be a bit of a grey area; we've been calling fingerboards "fretboards" forever, but if someone then adds a ™ next to the word, do we need to start calling it something else?

I dunno. I'm no lawyer. Just some jerk buiding guitars in his garage :D

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i'm not saying do or dont use the term or trying to start a debate about who said it first (honestly dont have a clue!!), just trying to clarify the legal situation over the term 'multiscale' as best as i understand it.

but to try and answer your question, (again, as best i understand it) if somebody was able to trademark 'fretboard' then i guess yes, we would have to use something else when describing any guitars we were sellling or building for sale or we would have to get their permission to use the term. ??? not totally sure

i suppose we all have the option of coming up with our own term and putting a trademark on it, if somebody has used it before but not bothered to trademark it then that would be their loss.

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OK, I see most of the controversy actually lays to the nomenclature. I didn't mean to make a big issue of it, but let's say I'll call mine "Vari-Scale" and no one here dare to use this name without my written permission !!! My lawyer is watching you all, and he costs me a fortune, so he MUST be good !!! :D

Seriously now, thanks for the replies so far, by all means keep them coming.

I was thinking to go easy and not aim at too dramatic scale differences. Maybe 1 to 1.5". I was thinking about placing the prep mid-scale, to avoid having such a slanted bridge. But I can see the advantages of moving it towards the nut: keeping frets not too "fanned" (sorry! :D ) in the area of the fretboard that sees most of the chording action.

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Hey Blackdog, sorry for hijacking the thread.

There's a good online fret placement calculator that I use here: http://www.fretfind.ekips.org/2d/nonparallel.php

It's nice that it'll output both DXF and SVG (which I use to import into Illustrator).

My preference is to make the 7th fret the perpendicular fret, it seems to be a good balance between a not-too-angled-nut and not-too-angled-bridge.

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I don't know much about the multiple scale guitars, but after looking at that link I do have a major question. That calculator asks for the tuning, which makes me think that you have to decide that up front. Once the scale, and tuning and layout is set, are you basically stuck with the tuning, or can they be changed as easily as a standard guitar.

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IIRC, the difference between a "multiscale" instrument and a "fanned fret" instrument is that the Novak patent was based on the frets being angled to meet at a convergence point if extended as lines. I don't believe that multiscale (Multiscale?) boards do this. Or they do. Wasn't there some issue over the intonation issues of a Novak-style fanned fret board? Is this important, really?

The way I see it is that you determine your inner and outer scales. Scale your fretting points perpendicular to these, and your other strings should fall between these elegantly if you have equidistantly spaced nut points and saddle points. I said equidistantly, as people who usually have slightly different string spacings to account for string gauges might encounter intonation issues if doing so.

Probably.

Anyway. Fanned multi fret scale string doobries are ergonomically more sensible, whatever the underlying system is. The angles and the perpendicular-to-centreline-fret can be altered to suit the wearing/playing style of the musician in question. A FF/MS instrument might play more comfortably sat down to stood up. Same as any instrument I guess.

I don't think I actually said anything here. :D

Edited by Prostheta
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IIRC, the difference between a "multiscale" instrument and a "fanned fret" instrument is that the Novak patent was based on the frets being angled to meet at a convergence point if extended as lines. I don't believe that multiscale (Multiscale?) boards do this. Or they do. Wasn't there some issue over the intonation issues of a Novak-style fanned fret board? Is this important, really?

Yes, it is important - the Novak patent (now patently expired) describes the frets on paths that all meet at a common point; a method for making a multiscale board that will not intonate properly.

The way I see it is that you determine your inner and outer scales. Scale your fretting points perpendicular to these, and your other strings should fall between these elegantly if you have equidistantly spaced nut points and saddle points. I said equidistantly, as people who usually have slightly different string spacings to account for string gauges might encounter intonation issues if doing so.

For the most part, it is no more difficult than that - provided you lay out the outermost scales parallel to the taper (you want the scale length to apply along the string path rather than parallel to the centerline like a straight neck), so you need to know the board taper accurately ahead of time before you can lay out the scales (which means - listen up newbs! - you need to know which bridge you're using right from the start!) - hard to describe in words, once you lay it out in a CAD program it all comes together. Whether you lay out the nut as "equal centers" or "equal gaps" the difference on the scale lengths is negligible. There are some minor tweeks you want to take into account regarding compensation, but these are no more difficult to figure out than on a straight board.

Easy enough on paper - getting the slots on the board correctly is the trick.

On the boards themselves - I have found it is not too hard to get used to them, particularly if you make the "perp" somewhere around #7 to #9. My 8-stringer has the perp at #12 and I would have liked it better at #7. For many chording things, I find a multiscale board to be actually more ergonomic than a straight board.

On the trademark business - don't go nuts here, no one will send you a threatening letter for just using the word - don't go all Pilotjones on me and start with this f*nned fr*t BS like big brother is reading your post :D And because this is a trademark, technically what you're not allowed to do is to use the term in the formal name of your (for sale) instrument. Like "Erikbojerik Multiscale"....or "Erikbojerik Fanned-Fret"...those could be a no-no in the country(s) in which the trademark is registered. But such a trademark does not prohibit you from using the term as an adjective to describe an instrument. Like the "Erikbojerik's GBO V8" which is "...an 8-string multiscale guitar with an ebony drop top blah blah blah..."....that sort of usage is perfectly acceptable and legal, even if I did want to sell it (which I don't).

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