Guitars are known for their timeless design and versatile playability, but if you’ve ever examined a guitar closely, you might have noticed that some have frets that appear to be slanted. These slanted frets are a unique feature found on certain guitars, and they serve a specific purpose in enhancing playability and intonation. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of slanted frets, exploring the reasons behind their existence and their impact on guitar performance.
1. What Are Slanted Frets?
Slanted frets, also known as compound radius or multi-scale fretboards, are a variation of the traditional fretboard design found on some guitars. In a slanted fret configuration, the frets are not perfectly parallel to the guitar’s body. Instead, they are angled, with the higher frets being closer to the body and the lower frets farther away.
2. Improved Intonation
One of the primary reasons for slanted frets is to enhance intonation across the entire fretboard. Traditional flat-fretted guitars can suffer from intonation issues, especially in the lower register, where the strings tend to go sharp as they are fretted. Slanted frets help to mitigate this problem by compensating for the differences in string tension and length.
3. Better Ergonomics
Slanted frets also offer ergonomic benefits to the player. The varying fret angles accommodate the natural curvature of the hand and fingers, making it more comfortable to reach higher notes on the fretboard. This ergonomic advantage can be particularly appreciated by guitarists who frequently play solos or intricate melodies in the higher fret positions.
4. Extended Range Guitars
Slanted frets are commonly found on extended range guitars, such as seven-string or eight-string guitars. These guitars have a wider tonal range, and the slanted frets help maintain accurate intonation and playability across the extended fretboard.
5. Scale Length Variation
In multi-scale guitars, where each string has a different scale length, slanted frets are used to ensure precise intonation for every string. This design is especially important for guitars with more strings, where the tension and scale length variations can be significant.
6. Modern Design Aesthetics
Apart from their functional benefits, slanted frets also contribute to the unique appearance of certain guitar models. They offer a modern and distinctive look that appeals to players seeking a guitar with a cutting-edge design.
Slanted frets, while not a standard feature on all guitars, serve important purposes in improving intonation, playability, and ergonomics. They are especially valuable on extended range and multi-scale guitars, where maintaining precise intonation can be challenging. While slanted frets may look unusual to some, they represent a thoughtful and practical innovation in the world of guitar design, allowing players to explore new sonic possibilities while maintaining a high level of playability and tuning accuracy. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or a curious newcomer, understanding the role of slanted frets can deepen your appreciation for the craftsmanship and innovation behind these instruments.