Fanned fret custom archtop

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by Muad_Dib, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Muad_Dib

    Muad_Dib SS.org Regular

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    Hi there, newbie here. I am a long time reader and i decided to register since I am a new convert to the 7 string. Great place!

    Mods, I started the thread here since my question is about a custom archtop that is going to be use mostly or jazz but feel free to move it if it belongs to another section.

    I am having a custom 7 string archtop built by a local luthier and we are discussing the fan. I currently own a Strandberg Singularity with true temperament frets on a 25.5" scale, tune to standard (BEADGBE). I did try Plini's Boden OS7 during a local masterclass and the multiscale was 25.5" to 26.25" with a 7th neutral fret but the tuning was drop Ab (AbEbAbDbGbBbEb)... it felt a bit loose but since I do not use this tuning I am not sure if it is relevant.

    I will be tuning the guitar in standard with a low A in George Van Eps / Bucky Pizarelli style. I was thinking of a 25.25" to 26" scale because I don't really have big hands but the more I read I think it might be too short for a low A string. I am having the neutral fret at the 9th because my arm is perfectly perpendicular to the neck at this position. Do you think that 25.5" to 26.5" would be better without making to wide in the lower frets? I know that 25.5" to 27" is probably better but I am not sure I would find it easy to play. The nut is going to be 50mm (my Strandberg is 49.3mm). I want to keep the string gauge relatively progressive (12-52 with a 64-70ish low A) so everything is nice and tight with a relatively constant tension but with a comfortable fan.

    The guitar is going to be a 16" X 2.75" with a laminated spruce top, flamed solid maple back and sides, 3 pieces maple/walnut/maple neck and ebony fretboard. The pickup will be a set (non floating) custom made Vintage Vibe HCC, slanted to align with the virtual 24th fret. I am very excited about this built!

    Thank you very much to anyone eho is willing to help me make my choice!
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Key thing: You probably are aware of this already and it sounds like the gauges you are using are good, but I will write it anyway for anyone else reading and as you mentioned the Boden being loose. Scale length shouldn't really be used to increase tension. That is a byproduct. It should be used to increase tone, by reducing the gauge, and keeping the tension the same as you'd usually go for. So never judge a scale length by how its tension feels unless you've set it up for your desired feel. Try strings thick enough for good tension on your current scale length, and if they sound muddy, go longer and bring the gauge down a tad :) I have no doubt the Boden is strung with loose strings - rarely do guitars come stock with gauges big enough to compensate for the tension lost by low tunings.

    I use a very similar tuning on my 24.75" 7 string archtop, but A standard (all step down) rather than drop A.
    I am thinking about 24.75-26".
    It's true though 26" is not a huge improvement over 25.5". It sounds only slightly clearer and allows you to reduce the gauge for example from .070 to .068 at best.

    Good thing is you aren't going for a super clear distorted metal tone like most of this forum. Perhaps lots of the comments around here you've read saying 26" isn't long enough for a good A, is with regards to metal electric guitars, in which case I agree.

    I think it's enough for a nice warm archtop tone though. My 24.75" .070 isn't awful. Just a bit tubby.

    So, if you've come to this conclusion based on tension rather than tone - try find the correct string first and then decide just how bad it sounds. Worth trying to tune to Bb and find your perfect gauge for that, as that's likely what you'll use for A a little longer. See how dark it sounds.

    I do suggest 26.5" IF you find 25.5" to be very unsatisfactory once you've got it tight enough. 26" isn't going to make a night and day difference to the tone over 25.5".
    In my case, 26" would be a big improvement from 24.75" and is what I plan to try :)

    As far as stretches go, 27" is exactly one fret behind the nut beyond 25.5" in terms of spacing and stretches. So everything feels one fret lower in terms of stretches. If you move the bridge to your right slightly, you alleviate the extra reach of the arm, at least.

    I look forward to seeing the build! The only thing better than an archtop is a fanned 7 string archtop :D
     
  3. Muad_Dib

    Muad_Dib SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the answer! I am very excited about this project. I was about to order one of the Eastman 7 strings model but the price was getting pretty high to have them in Canada so I figured I should ask a local luthier I was following on Facebook. He is very excited about the project too! The guitar should be ready by the end of September. I used the Benedetto Bravo specs for the base but changed a couple of things :)

    Well the goal was not really to increase tension but, as you said to keep a constant tone over all the strings. Being French Canadian I probably didn't pick the right words! I currently have a .064 on my Singularity's low B and I use it sometimes for drop A but I would not keep it as a permanent setup. It is fine for standard tuning on rock/metal/fusion music.

    I talked to the builder and I decided to go to 25.5-26.5... it should allow me to tune to drop A while keeping that string to a 64-68 without getting an uncomfortable reach in the low frets.

    I had an ES-175CC with the 24.75 scale and while it had a great traditionnal jazz sound, I prefered the soung of the Heritage H575 with the 25.5 scale, more suitable for the modern jazz I am usually playing... being a former classical pianist I found the bass more interesting on the longer scale instrument, hence the 26.5 scale on the 7th low A string.

    Thanks again, a lot of great informations in your post!

    I will post pictures of the process (the luthier told me he takes about 1500 pictures of his projects!). It is going to be a long but exciting year!
     
  4. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    Good choice, awesome stuff! :)
     

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