Who Started the Fanned-Fret Revolution?

Friday, February 17th, 2023

multi-scale instruments today

Dingwall Voodoo1993

Back in 1992, I was looking to improve the low B-string on our 5-string basses. I was approaching it from the point-of-view of a piano, whereby scale-length controls the harmonic content of the string and is very influential on the piano’s overall tone. I was stuck trying to figure out how to make the extra-long scale needed for the B-string comfortable to play. When I saw the first photo of a Novak fanned-fret guitar in Guitar Player magazine, I realized this was the perfect application for a 5-string bass! Fanned-frets would allow me to achieve the extra long scale where it was needed on the B-string while keeping the traditional scale length on the G-string where it was already long enough.

Ralph Novak from Novax Guitars

Two months later, I ran into Ralph Novak at a luthier’s convention at the University of South Dakota and we connected immediately.
We talked about our visions and decided that he would focus on guitars and I would focus on basses. We shook hands and have had a great relationship ever since.

Dingwall ABI 2023

I went home and developed the Dingwall Guitars Voodoo bass and took the first sample to the NAMM Show in 1993. We then went into production and we’ve been building fanned-fret bass guitars ever since. It’s important to note that without Ralph bringing this fretting system back to life in the 80s, I’m convinced that we wouldn’t have the multi-scale instruments we have today.