9 String Guitar With Extra Frets To Avoid Fretboard Irregularities In (drop) Tunings

Discussion in 'Extended Range Guitars' started by TWF, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    When I started playing 9-string guitar, I was trying out a couple of tunings until I found what I consider best for me: BEBEADGBE (7 string standard + drop E, as many 8-string players are using it, + another B, the same as on a 5-string bass). This tuning is merging the best parts of a 5-string bass and a 7-string guitar in one instrument. What I never liked with my tuning was the "drop step" between E and B. Then I found the concept of "additional frets" below the usual ones (compare this guitar for "drop d" tuning, but with regular perfect fourths:

    The 6-string "ESP FuniChar D-616", tuned DADGBE (but without the "drop irregularity"):
    [​IMG]

    I love this idea! And it seems to be the solution to my problem. As you might know, luthier Rick Toone, is using this on some of his innovative guitar concepts:

    The 7-string "Fathom 7XR" with two extra frets on the two lowest strings, impressively presented here:


    The 8-string "Blur 8XR" (for Tosin Abasi) with two extra frets on the two lowest strings:
    [​IMG]

    So what I did - as a little joking around -, was to create a mockup of an Ibanez RG9 with extra extended-range frets on the two lowest strings (see attached file). Factory tuning in mind: BEBEADBE.

    What do you guys think about extra extended-range frets to avoid irregularieties/jumps in tunings?
    What do you think about my concept? Might Ibanez build this as a custom guitar one day :D?
    What scale length do you think would I need for the neck (with 26 frets on the low B and E strings)?
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd certainly uncertain Contributor

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    That seems really cool, but can you--or someone else--explain that "drop d" guitar you showed?

    I'm sure it's simple but it's messing with me up trying to wrap my head around how that works out. Can you play it as though it's in standard except for playing open notes on the 6th string?
     
  3. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    Yes, exactly! You can play a nice open D. And third fret on the D string is E, in regular/standars position to the other strings. If you would capo the extended strings on the third fret you have a guitar in standard tuning
     
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  4. frank falbo

    frank falbo SS.org Regular

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    First I saw of it was the Kubicki Factor bass, apparently since 1983. Not sure when he got the patent on the automatic “flip capo” thing but I believe that’s ground zero for this, unless you include the little bent nails that banjos have for locking the string down behind a fret.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Kubicki_Factor_Bass

    Point is, I like the idea but only if it includes some kind of quick lever or clip to go back to normal. Looks like that ESP thing in your photo has something like that. Probably a spring loaded clip. The Kubicki flip lever seems intuitive to me.
     
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  5. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    I think it works best with a headless design just so the headstock doesn't get in the way. I like the 'hybrid' scale on some Strandbergs and those Rick Toone guitars. I've been wanting my own 9-string with a hybrid scale. Except I just wanted to copy the tuning that Tosin has, with a low A and C# string, so it wasn't really about trying to maintain a perfect fourths tuning.

    It was to be in standard 6-string tuning, but with a high G string, and a low A and C#. I used FretFind to come up with the scale lengths, and I decided on 25-27". The 25" scale would be good enough for a high G string, but despite the fan seeming comparatively short for such a low tuning, it's not. When you add two extra frets behind the nut for the low A and C#, it comes to around 30.03"~ and 30.31"~ for the low A and C#. Perfectly manageable for everything after the nut, but that 27" actually amounts to 30.31".

    It's an amazing, innovative approach perfectly suited to headless guitars, that I will probably never be able to afford.
     
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  6. luca9583

    luca9583 SS.org Regular

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    Headless is the way to go for this. I have a custom made 7 string (posted here a few years ago) that takes this concept further:

    Beast Phase 1.jpg

    It's a 25.5" scale neck stuck to a 34" scale neck. The 5 negative frets result in 34" scale on the 3 lowest strings. The tuning can be anything you like. The lowest string is a low B0.

    There are a number of things to consider here for negative frets on any guitar.

    First of all, to find out the best scale length for your two low strings, i'd suggest finding a cheap 34" scale bass and experiment using guitar strings and two capos on the fretboard. 1 capo to mock up where the "regular" frets begin, and a second capo to mock up where the negative frets end so that you can see which scale length feels and sounds the best overall. This capo mockup won't sound the same as an instrument with the actual scale length but it will allow you to hear how the tunings sound.

    For a legitimate "guitar sounding" B0 you need a longer scale length than 30" to produce enough clarity and bite.

    If you mess around with Reverse Fret Calculator you see what the negative frets would result in:

    http://www.ekips.org/tools/guitar/originaltools/dinfterF.html

    I would go for around 28-29" scale so that the negative frets extend to around 31-32" scale. 34" is even better but would mean the rest of the guitar would be around 30" which might feel too long.

    Another very important thing to consider with extended frets is the pickup placement. As you increase scale length from guitar to baritone to bass etc, the placement of the pickup needs to be proportionate to the (change in) scale length.

    On my instrument i actually had the bridge pickup re-routed a bit further away from the bridge after the above photo was taken, so it was more in proportion with the 34" scale side of the guitar, and upgraded to a custom 3 channel pickup that allows me to eq the two low strings separately to each other and to the top 5 strings.

    On a 9 string with negative frets you could even consider a 6 string pickup for the top strings, and a custom 2 string pickup for the low strings, so that you are free to route both pickups in their respective scale lengths' sweet spots (for the bridge pickup)

    A simple custom 2 string capo would also be the easiest way to make all 9 string one scale length when needed.
     
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  7. luca9583

    luca9583 SS.org Regular

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    It's actually the second fret on the D string on the FuniChar that produces E when capo'd. I think when you said third fret you were including the "negative nut"
     
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  8. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I dislike drop tuning because of the tension jump (or gauge and tone jump), and fingering change. So, this idea appealed to me for a long time. Great for extending range whilst retaining standard.
    However, over time I've gone off the idea and think it makes sense to simply play a 28.625" 26 fret instrument instead of a 25.5" 24 fret for example. Then it can just be capo'd on the top 5 strings, or played a step down all over. The only downside I can think of is that using capo's isn't quite perfect (for bends and such), but for me personally they work well enough to remove the desire for a partial fretboard instrument
     
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  9. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    It’s like a reverse banjo
     
  10. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    sorry to be that guy, but couldnt you jsut get a longer scale guitar and put a capo on the higher strings on the 2nd string?.

    or jsut get a multiscale if what you want this extra fret guitars is because the tension.

    also, is the difference in string gauge/string tension is that big on a drop tunning in order to justify a custom guitar with tw extra frets?.... not taking into account that is not really a drop tunning since its still tecnically tunned in 5ths/4ths, so chord shapes are still traditional chord shapes. Difference is that now you have a different note for the 0-0-0-0-0-0, in which you could jsut tune a normal guitar into it..... I still dont see the point of these kinds of guitars
     
  11. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    For point 1: you could use a capo on part of the neck, but then you'd have a capo in the way. Then you wouldn't be able to fret behind the capo. Speaking from experience, it's pretty annoying. Fine for some purposes - I certainly capo only part of the neck at times. But not fine when you do want to fret behind it.

    For point 2: it's more about playability. Take my example above, where I want a 25-27" multiscale. I'd like that, because I want to do a wide variety of voicings for things. I could do something like 28-31" to maintain tension on the low A and C#, but that would eliminate the benefit of having 25-27" for playability. You could just make it two frets longer and use a capo, but then refer to point 1.

    For point 3: that's the reason why - different phrasing opportunities. It allows the lower notes of a drop tuning without changing the relationship between frets. (My example is a bit different, but the principle's the same.) It's all about different phrasing opportunities. For example, you can have a pedal tone as if it was a drop tuning while still retaining the same phrasing as a standard tuning. Drop tunings are annoying when playing intervals less than a fourth, but this solves it. There are myriad ways to tune it and take advantage of it.

    It's a specific solution to a specific problem, for sure. But the benefit is higher tension on lower notes that also opens up new phrasing opportunities without having to compromise on all your other strings. You could simply tune it differently or use a capo, but then that's a solution to a different problem.
     
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  12. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    fair point, but..... (just so I could fully undertand it
    (lets assume for example sake, that we are talking about a seven string in standard tunning)

    would this guitar with extra frets, giving you the "Drop A" range, while keeping the guitar tunned in fourths, so your phrasing and chord shapes remain "standard"..... what would be the difference VS having a regular (or multiscale for that matter) sevenstring guitar tunned to A standard?..... apart from the fact that you could make an open A power chord (if only the lowest string is the one having two extra frets)
     
  13. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    You get the lower note without having to change the phrasing and chord shapes. If you take a 7-string and tune it all down to A standard, your lowest three strings would be A, D and G: but if you had two frets behind the nut for the 7th string, it will be A, E and A but you still keep the fourths relationship between the strings.

    Whether you personally find it useful is another matter entirely, but it certainly has its unique uses.
     
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  14. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    Wow, thank you so much for the details. It seems as if my dream isn't so far from becoming reality. Your concept model looks amazing. Could you give me a hint with whom you cooperated on this?
     
  15. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    Do you know of any 30'' or 31'' 9-string guitar model with 26 frets? With that your idea would be easily realizable for me. One could even put a fix 7-string nut on the second fret position of the high 7 strings
     
  16. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    Yes, that's how my "normal" RG9 ist tuned and how I play it every day: BEBEADGBE, so I have the bass B and E as open notes. But there I have the drop between second and third string (7-string B).
     
  17. TWF

    TWF SS.org Regular

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    One quick question: If I would buy an Agile 930 (30'' 9 string guitar) and put a 7-string nut on the higher part of the 2nd fret. Do you think that would work? I think the second fret is at around 26,73''.
     
  18. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    I know all that, but still doesnt answer my question. Only difference I see is that with the extra fret guitar you could chug a open A power chord for riffs, instead of just chug the low A string on a standard A tunned guitar.

    so, any more difference/advantage of having the extra frets? vs regular scale (assuming the standard guitar's scale lenght its such that matches the extra fret guitar string tension)
     
  19. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    Well, it should answer your question, because that's the answer. Different phrasing opportunities that you can't get on a normal instrument.
     
  20. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Yeah that's basically it - same thing as spider capo. Open tuned chords, with standard frettings
     

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