Electric Guitars

Multi-Scale and Fanned Fret Guitars

Multi-Scale or Fanned Fret guitars are a new style of guitars that feature fretboards set at an angle for better string tension and more comfortable feel. These guitars are growing a big following with brands like Ibanez, ESP, Schecter among others.

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Multi-Scale and Fanned Fret Guitars

While it may seem like a modern innovation fanned fretboard instruments have been around since the 16th century but it took until the 1980’s for someone to apply that to the electric guitar. Ralph Novak brought this idea to the electric guitar as he was looking for something that sounded full at the low end but had easy to bend strings on the high end.

He then patented this technology in 1989 which has since expired though he does hold the trademark for the term “fanned-fret”. The expiration of this patent is what has lead to many other brands now taking on the design.

The Benefits of Multiscale Guitars

There are 3 main benefits to a multi-scale guitar.

  • Better string tension – By having a longer scale length for the thicker strings you get higher tension than on the higher strings. This results in a thicker, fuller rhythm sound on the lower strings while still being able to keep the high strings loose enough to bend, slide and not feel too tight under your fingers.
  • Better intonation – The intonation thing may seem counter intuitive but with certain fanned fret systems you can get much more accurate intonation across the fretboard. This depends on your tuning and the particular ‘fan’ of your guitars frets.
  • Intuitive feel – Again this comes down to personal preference but for those who have switched to fanned frets have mentioned it being more comfortable and easier to play than straight frets. It can take a few minutes to get used to but after that you will be back up to full speed in no time.

Are There Different Types of Multi-Scales?

Yes, different manufacturers can fan the frets in any way they want. Most have some rules they put in place for what they feel is the best option.

For example, every fan fretted guitar needs to have a straight fret somewhere. But where do you put it? Some of the most popular places are the 12th, 9th or 0 frets. There is no right or wrong way to do this it just ends up being about what kind of feel you want for your guitar.

The other part is, how big is the fan? The way this is measured is the difference in scale length between the highest and lowest strings. For example, 27” – 25.5” will be measured at a 1.5” fan. You Can go larger or smaller. Some companies will make a 6-string fanned fret with as little as a .5” fan which may not seem worth it but it makes a big difference to the feel of the guitar.

Some big brands such as Ibanez, Schecter, and Jackson make multi-scale guitars and we're proud to stock some their range here at Andertons! So take a look below or if you're a bassist then check our range of multi-scale basses!