Fan Fret Guitars Revisited - An In-Depth Look at the Multi Scale Design!

If you've followed this blog over the years you will doubtless be pretty clued in when it comes to fan fret guitars and their advantages. If you've just joined us then this primer video should get you up to speed before we go any further...

With that out of the way we can take a somewhat deeper look at makes fan fret guitars such amazing instruments! Let's take one of the finest examples of the breed, Michael Greenfield's phenomenal G2.2 model!

The Greenfield G2.2 - One of the finest fan frets available

One of the most common questions we've encountered since posting the original fan-fret video is "Do fan frets work in standard tuning?" the answer to that is a resounding YES! A great example of this in action is Australian fingerstyle virtuoso Adam Miller who has rocked a fan fret guitar in standard tuning for years now.  

Adam Miller with his fan fret Traugott guitar in standard tuning at all times. 

Perhaps the only area that may need adjustment is the root-six F major chord at the first fret. This is still comfortable enough but I've moved my first finger barré slightly away from the nut as you'll see below. 

A comfortable 1st position F major...

Some open or alternate tunings have some pretty vicious stretches built in (DADGAD being a case in point) and on more extreme fans this can be a challenge. This G2.2 features Michael Greenfield's proprietary DADGAD fan fret geometry and as such even extended stretches are very comfortable. 

DADGAD stretches are a breeze with a DADGAD fan!

We've also had lots of inquiries about whether a fan fret limits your right hand technique. In fact the opposite is true as fan fret guitars offer an extended tonal spectrum which we will look at in a moment. The only real adjustment you may have to make in the first instance is dealing with the fact that your harmonics are now at an angle and as such extended harping techniques may need to be worked on for accuracy. 

"Harping" while following the angle of the fret - doesn't take long to get used to it!

Now let's go back to tone. The pic below shows my right hand in my normal playing position attacking the strings on or around the centre of the sound hole. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that this playing position puts my thumb further along the speaking length of the string than it would be on a non fan fret guitar. This means that my bass notes will be round and full. 

Moving my hand closer to the bridge allows me to access some brighter, steelier treble sounds while still maintaining that fat, round bass. 

Bringing my right hand closer to the fret board makes the trebles fuller still while the bass strings take on an almost double bass timbre. This is perfect for lyrical, expressive passages. Do bear in mind that in this position you're more likely to rattle the bass string as you're attacking it closer to its centre. Thankfully this guitar has more than enough power so you don't need to overcompensate by digging in. 

Finally, we get a lot of questions about whether you can use a capo with a fan fret guitar. The simple answer is yes! And you don't need to angle it with the fret either. Although you could... if you think it looks cool...

To see this incredible Greenfield G2.2 in action click below!

We also have a wonderful SJ fan fret incoming from Michael Bashkin any day now! Here's Michael himself at the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration talking about this guitar.

For more information about fan fret guitars, or to book an appointment please do get in touch! hello@thenorthamericanguitar.com

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