Myth 1:  The frets note untrue

Sterner TM

Accurate calculation and manufacturing

Without thinking we often say that "the frets note untrue". In the old days, when the knowledge was poor, the placement of the frets was a source of error.

Today it is easy to calculate the fretboard with an electronic calculator or a computer (see Appendix). With computer aided manufacturing fretboards are made with very high precision. It is more likely that a fretboard on a cheap, factory made guitar is more accurate than on an expensive, handmade instrument. On modern instruments this source of error ought to be eliminated.

But, as fretted instruments still intonate very poorly, the expression lives on and our thoughts are led astray. Meny believe that every fret has to be devided into small sections, so that every string can have individually placed frets. This is a possible solution - if you do not correct the faults in the nut and the bridge - but what a giant task.

Fingertips are soft

When you fret a string you can feel the vibrations in the tip of your finger. The soft fingertip (and also the soft pad of a capo) cannot by far fixate a string as hard as it is fixated in its ends by the nut and the bridge. When a string is fretted by the finger it pivots on the top of the fret just like a seesaw, wich means that the string vibrates all the way to its correct point (= the top of the fret). Therefore a fingertip or a capo causes no or very little fastening faults. The frets need no compensations.

Slanted strings then?

That the outer strings, due to the spreading of the strings, are slanted across the fretboard does not matter. The frets still devides the string correctly because the string is slanted with the same angle to all the frets.

Copyright Anders Sterner
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