If you’re a guitar enthusiast, you may have heard of a multiscale guitar. But what is a multiscale guitar exactly? A multiscale guitar, also known as a fanned-fret guitar, is an innovative instrument that features a fretboard with multiple scale lengths. This unique design allows for each string to have a different tension, resulting in a more balanced tonal quality.
The multiscale guitar was first introduced in the early 1990s by luthier Ralph Novak. Since then, it has gained popularity among guitar players who are looking for a more ergonomic and versatile instrument. The multiscale design allows for a longer scale length on the bass strings and a shorter scale length on the treble strings, which can improve playability and intonation.
If you’re wondering why a multiscale guitar might be a good choice for you, consider the benefits it offers. The multiscale design can provide a more comfortable playing experience, as well as improved tone and intonation. Additionally, the different scale lengths can make it easier to play complex chords and melodies. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, a multiscale guitar may be worth considering for your next instrument.
Understanding Multiscale Guitars
If you are a guitar enthusiast, you may have heard about multiscale guitars, also known as fanned-fret guitars. These unique instruments have been gaining popularity in recent years due to their improved tuning stability, better action, well-defined tonal clarity, and better intonation. In this section, we will explore the concept of scale length and what makes multiscale guitars unique.
Concept of Scale Length
The scale length of a guitar refers to the distance between the nut and the bridge, which determines the length of the vibrating string. Traditionally, guitars have a uniform scale length on all strings. However, this can cause less-than-perfect inharmonicity and tuning issues, especially when playing lower tunings.
Multiscale guitars address this issue by having a different scale length for each string. The lower strings have a longer scale length, while the higher strings have a shorter scale length. This design allows for better intonation and tuning stability across the entire fretboard, making it easier to play in lower tunings.
What Makes Multiscale Unique
Apart from the different scale lengths on each string, multiscale guitars also have other unique features that set them apart from traditional guitars. Some of these features include:
- Fanned frets: The frets are angled, with the higher strings having a more acute angle than the lower strings. This allows for a more natural hand position and better string tension.
- Extended range: Multiscale guitars are often used for extended-range guitars, such as 7 or 8-string guitars. The longer scale length on the lower strings allows for better string tension and clarity.
- Improved playability: The different scale lengths and fanned frets allow for better playability across the entire fretboard, making it easier to play complex chords and solos.
In conclusion, multiscale guitars offer a unique design that improves tuning stability, better action, well-defined tonal clarity, and better intonation. If you are looking for an instrument that can handle lower tunings and offer improved playability, a multiscale guitar may be the right choice for you.
History of Multiscale Guitars
Multiscale guitars, also known as fanned-fret guitars, have been around for over a century. They may seem like a recent innovation, but the idea of using fanned frets to improve intonation dates back to the late 19th century.
Inception of Fanned Frets
In 1884, E. A. Edgren, a Swedish instrument maker, filed a patent for a guitar with fanned frets. The idea behind fanned frets was to compensate for the differences in string length and tension that occur when playing different notes on different strings. By angling the frets, Edgren hoped to create a more even and accurate intonation across the fretboard.
However, Edgren’s idea never caught on, and it wasn’t until the late 1970s that fanned frets were reintroduced by John D. Starrett. Starrett’s invention, the StarrBoard, featured a matrix of halftones with strings spaced vertically, allowing for one fingering to cover all scales. The StarrBoard was primarily used for tapping, but it paved the way for the development of the modern multiscale guitar.
Evolution and Patents
Ralph Novak, a luthier from New Jersey, is often credited with popularizing the modern multiscale guitar. In 1989, Novak filed a patent for a “multi-scale musical instrument,” which featured an angled fretboard and staggered bridge saddles. Novak’s design allowed for better intonation and more comfortable playing, and it quickly gained popularity among guitarists.
Since then, many other luthiers and manufacturers have developed their own versions of the multiscale guitar, with varying degrees of success. Some have filed their own patents, while others have simply adapted existing designs to suit their needs.
Despite the long history of fanned frets and the recent surge in popularity of multiscale guitars, there are still many guitarists who are skeptical of the concept. Some argue that the benefits of multiscale guitars are overstated, while others simply prefer the traditional look and feel of a standard guitar. Regardless of your opinion, it’s clear that multiscale guitars are here to stay, and they will likely continue to evolve and improve in the years to come.
Anatomy of a Multiscale Guitar
A multiscale guitar is a type of guitar that features a fretboard with multiple scale lengths. This allows for each string to have a different tension and thus, balanced tonal characteristics. In this section, we will discuss the different components of a multiscale guitar and how they contribute to its unique sound.
Strings and Frets
The strings and frets are the most important components of a multiscale guitar. The strings are tuned to specific notes, and the frets are placed at specific intervals to produce those notes. The scale length of each string is determined by the length of the string from the nut to the bridge. In a multiscale guitar, the scale length of each string is different, which allows for a more balanced tone across all strings.
The frets on a multiscale guitar are angled to match the scale length of each string. This allows for better intonation and easier playing across the entire fretboard. The angled frets also help to reduce tension on the strings, which can improve playability and reduce string breakage.
Pickups and Bridge
The pickups and bridge of a multiscale guitar are also important components that contribute to its unique sound. The pickups are responsible for converting the vibrations of the strings into an electrical signal, which is then sent to an amplifier. The bridge is responsible for holding the strings in place and adjusting their tension.
In a multiscale guitar, the pickups are typically placed at an angle to match the angle of the strings. This allows for better pickup response and a more balanced tone across all strings. The bridge is also angled to match the scale length of each string, which helps to improve intonation and reduce tension.
Body and Neck
The body and neck of a multiscale guitar can also contribute to its unique sound. The body shape can affect the resonance and sustain of the guitar, while the neck shape can affect playability and comfort.
In a multiscale guitar, the body shape is typically designed to optimize resonance and sustain across all strings. The neck shape is also designed to optimize playability and comfort, with a comfortable grip and easy access to all frets.
Overall, a multiscale guitar is a unique instrument that offers a balanced tone and improved playability. By incorporating different scale lengths, angled frets, and optimized components, a multiscale guitar can provide a more enjoyable playing experience and a unique sound that is all its own.
Famous Multiscale Guitar Brands
If you’re in the market for a multiscale guitar, you have plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of the most famous multiscale guitar brands:
Ibanez and Ormsby
Ibanez is one of the most well-known guitar brands in the world, and they offer a range of multiscale guitars. Their RGMS7 model is a 7-string guitar with a fanned fret design that allows for improved intonation and playability. Ormsby Guitars is a newer brand that has gained popularity in recent years for their high-quality multiscale guitars. Their Goliath model is a 6-string guitar with a unique, ergonomic design that makes it comfortable to play for extended periods.
Schecter and Jackson
Schecter is another popular guitar brand that offers a range of multiscale guitars. Their C-1 FR SLS Elite model is a 6-string guitar with a fanned fret design and a sleek, modern look. Jackson is a brand that is known for their metal-oriented guitars, and they offer several multiscale models. Their X Series Soloist SLX model is a 7-string guitar with a fanned fret design and a fast, comfortable neck.
Strandberg and Dingwall
Strandberg is a relatively new brand that has gained a lot of attention for their innovative multiscale guitars. Their Boden model is a 6-string guitar with a unique ergonomic design that makes it incredibly comfortable to play. Dingwall is a brand that specializes in basses, but they also offer a range of multiscale guitars. Their D-Roc model is a 6-string guitar with a fanned fret design and a unique, modern look.
Overall, there are many great multiscale guitar brands to choose from, and each offers its own unique features and benefits. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there is a multiscale guitar out there that is perfect for you.
Playing a Multiscale Guitar
If you’re considering playing a multiscale guitar, you may be wondering how it differs from a traditional guitar. In this section, we’ll explore the unique playing experience of a multiscale guitar and how it can affect your playing style.
Ergonomics and Playability
One of the primary benefits of a multiscale guitar is its ergonomic design. The multiscale fretboard is angled, with the lower strings having a longer scale length than the higher strings. This design allows for a more natural hand position and reduced tension in the wrist and fingers. This can make playing for extended periods more comfortable and reduce the risk of injury.
In terms of playability, a multiscale guitar can be easier to play than a traditional guitar. The angled frets can make it easier to reach higher notes, and the longer scale length on the lower strings can make it easier to play chords and barre chords. The multiscale design can also improve intonation and tuning stability, making it easier to play in tune across the entire fretboard.
Chords and Solos
When it comes to playing chords on a multiscale guitar, there are a few things to keep in mind. Because the frets are angled, some chords may require a different finger placement than on a traditional guitar. However, the longer scale length on the lower strings can make it easier to play chords and barre chords. Experimenting with different finger placements and playing styles can help you find the most comfortable and effective way to play chords on a multiscale guitar.
When it comes to playing solos on a multiscale guitar, the angled frets can make it easier to reach higher notes. The longer scale length on the lower strings can also make it easier to play fast runs and arpeggios. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the multiscale design can affect the spacing between the frets, which can take some getting used to. With practice and experimentation, you can develop a playing style that takes advantage of the unique benefits of a multiscale guitar.
In summary, playing a multiscale guitar can offer a more ergonomic and comfortable playing experience, as well as improved intonation and tuning stability. While it may take some getting used to, experimenting with different playing styles and finger placements can help you take advantage of the unique benefits of a multiscale guitar.
Tuning and Intonation on Multiscale Guitars
When it comes to tuning and intonation on multiscale guitars, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best possible sound and playability out of your instrument.
Tuning a Multiscale Guitar
One of the biggest benefits of a multiscale guitar is better intonation, which means that each string is in tune with itself across the entire fretboard. To take advantage of this, it’s important to tune your guitar accurately and consistently.
To tune a multiscale guitar, start by tuning the lowest string to the desired pitch. Then, tune each string in order, working your way up to the highest string. It’s important to use the correct gauge strings for your tuning, especially if you’re playing in lower tunings like drop B or lower.
Maintaining proper intonation on a multiscale guitar is crucial for tuning stability and playability. To keep your guitar in tune, it’s important to adjust the intonation as needed.
To adjust the intonation, use a chromatic tuner to check the tuning at the 12th fret on each string. If the note is sharp or flat, adjust the saddle position until the note is in tune. This will ensure that each string plays in tune across the entire fretboard.
It’s also important to keep your guitar in good condition by regularly changing strings and performing routine maintenance. This will help ensure that your guitar stays in tune and maintains its intonation over time.
Overall, tuning and intonation are critical factors in getting the best possible sound and playability out of your multiscale guitar. By following these tips and keeping your guitar in good condition, you can enjoy the benefits of better intonation and tuning stability on your 6-string, C-7, or C-8 multiscale guitar, even in lower tunings like drop A, drop C, or drop B.
Multiscale Guitars and Extended Range
If you’re a guitarist looking to expand your tonal range and improve your playing experience, you might want to consider investing in a multiscale guitar. Multiscale guitars are designed to provide multiple scale lengths on the same instrument, which can offer a range of benefits for different types of players.
Six and Seven String Guitars
Multiscale technology is commonly used in six and seven string guitars, which are popular among metal and rock guitarists. The extended range of the additional strings can help players achieve lower tunings and heavier sounds, while the multiscale design can improve the overall intonation and playability of the instrument.
When looking for a multiscale guitar, you will be given the scale length for the lowest string followed by the highest string. For example, a six-string multiscale guitar might have a scale length of 25.5″ for the lowest string and 27.5″ for the highest string. This design allows for better tension and improved playability, especially when playing complex chords or fast riffs.
Bass and Extended Range Guitars
Multiscale technology is also used in bass and extended range guitars, which can offer even more tonal possibilities for players. The longer scale lengths of these instruments can help achieve lower tunings and deeper bass tones, while the multiscale design can improve the overall clarity and definition of the notes being played.
When looking for a multiscale bass guitar, you might come across instruments with scale lengths ranging from 30″ to 37″. This extended range can help bass players achieve a wider range of notes and tones, while the multiscale design can improve the overall playability and comfort of the instrument.
Overall, multiscale guitars and extended range instruments can offer a range of benefits for different types of players. Whether you’re a metal guitarist looking for heavier tones or a bass player looking for extended range, a multiscale instrument might be the perfect addition to your collection.
Pros and Cons of Multiscale Guitars
Multiscale guitars have become increasingly popular among guitarists due to their unique design, which features frets that are angled across the fingerboard. While these guitars offer several benefits, they also come with some limitations. In this section, we will explore the pros and cons of multiscale guitars.
Benefits of Multiscale Guitars
One of the most significant advantages of multiscale guitars is their improved playability. The angled frets create a more natural hand position, reducing the strain on your fingers and wrists. This design allows for more comfortable playing, especially for extended periods.
Multiscale guitars also provide enhanced tone. The angled frets allow for better intonation and tuning accuracy, leading to a more balanced and harmonious sound. Additionally, the longer scale length on the bass strings provides a more extended sustain and better low-end response.
Multiscale guitars have a unique aesthetic that sets them apart from traditional guitars. The angled frets create a striking visual effect that can be visually appealing to many players.
Limitations of Multiscale Guitars
One of the main limitations of multiscale guitars is their higher cost. Due to their unique design and construction, multiscale guitars can be more expensive than traditional guitars. If you are on a budget, a multiscale guitar may not be the best option for you.
Multiscale guitars are not as widely available as traditional guitars. This limited availability can make it difficult to find the right multiscale guitar for your needs. Additionally, the lack of availability may also result in higher prices.
Multiscale guitars require a learning curve to adjust to the angled frets. This adjustment period can take some time, and it may be challenging to switch back to a traditional guitar after playing a multiscale guitar for an extended period.
In conclusion, multiscale guitars have several benefits, including improved playability, enhanced tone, and a unique aesthetic. However, they also come with some limitations, such as higher cost, limited availability, and a learning curve. If you are considering a multiscale guitar, weigh the pros and cons carefully to determine if it is the right choice for you.
In conclusion, multiscale guitars offer a unique design that can improve your playing experience in many ways. By having different scale lengths on each string, multiscale guitars can provide improved tuning stability, better action, well-defined tonal clarity, and better intonation.
If you are considering purchasing a multiscale guitar, it’s important to keep in mind that they may require some adjustment to your playing style. The frets may feel different and may take some time to get used to. However, once you become accustomed to the new design, you may find that playing a multiscale guitar is more comfortable and natural than playing a traditional guitar.
Overall, multiscale guitars are an excellent choice for guitarists who are looking for an instrument that can offer improved playability and sound quality. If you are interested in purchasing a multiscale guitar, we recommend doing your research and reading reviews to find the best option for your needs and budget.