Multi-scale gitaren, wat zijn dat eigenlijk?

While the guitar industry is fairly conservative when it comes to innovation, some recent developments are worth checking out. So, if you’ve never heard of multiscale guitars before (aka models fitted with so-called fanned frets), simply read on and be amazed.


First things first. The ‘scale’ part of multiscale refers to scale length: the length between the nut and the saddle. Most electric guitars, including Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters, have a 25.5-inch (648mm) scale length. Another common scale length is the Gibson-standard 24.75-inch (629mm).

Multi-scale gitaren, wat zijn dat eigenlijk?
Scale length of an electric guitar

Bang-On Sound in Lower Tunings

Standard scale lengths like 25.5 and 24.75 inches work really well for six-string guitars in standard tuning (EADGBE) but typically fall short when you want to play a seven or eight-string guitar in a lower tuning. This is because lowering the pitch equals dropping the tension of the strings, which leaves more slack for the strings to bump into the frets and create that annoying fret buzz. In general, the longer the string, the cleaner it can sound and the better it is at supporting accurate intonation. In other words, a longer scale length like 27 inches (686mm) is much better for pulling clean sound out of a guitar in lower tunings than a more common scale length. That said, increasing the scale length does come with one problem: it also increases the tension. This can make the treble strings feel stiff and make string bending a lot harder. The solution? A multiscale guitar.

The Benefit of Multiscale Guitars

Multiscale guitars come with a different scale length for each string. This is achieved by fitting the frets in a slightly offset way, which is why they’re called fanned frets. Here, the thicker strings are the longest while the thinner ones the shortest. As a result, the thicker strings can be set up cleanly while the thin strings remain easy to play.

The Neutral Point

Giving a guitar multiple different scale lengths can be done in various ways, which explains why there are many different multiscale models available. This has everything to do with the lay-out of the fanned frets, which depends on what’s called the neutral point: the point that sits perpendicular to the strings. The neutral point can be one of the frets, the nut or the saddle and ultimately determines the lay-out of the fanned frets. Here’s a few examples:

Ex 1: The Cort X-700 Mutility

The neutral point of the Cort X-700 Mutility can be found at the nut, which explains why the frets fan out to the left.

Multi-scale gitaren, wat zijn dat eigenlijk?

Ex 2: The Jackson Concept Series Soloist SLAT7P HT MS

The neutral point of the Jackson SLAT7P HT MS can be found at the seventh fret, which explains why the frets fan out in both directions.

Multi-scale gitaren, wat zijn dat eigenlijk?

Ex 3: The ESP Snapper-7 Ohmura Custom Multiscale Prototype

The neutral point of this multiscale ESP guitar sits at the bridge, which explains why the frets fan out to the right.

Multi-scale gitaren, wat zijn dat eigenlijk?

Photo: source

What’s the Best Neutral Point?

While guitar manufacturers aren’t very clear on why they opt for a certain neutral point, it’s pretty clear that different neutral points offer a different playing feel. Having the neutral point at the nut makes the feel at the top of the neck similar to a standard guitar since that’s where the frets are still fairly straight, accommodating chords and power-chords. Having the neutral point at the bridge will obviously make solos feel a little more familiar, and if it sits at say the seventh or twelfth fret, you basically get a trade-off.

Want to know what a multiscale guitar feels like? Check out our range of multiscale electric guitars and multiscale bass guitars.

See also

» Multiscale Electric Guitars
» Multiscale Bass Guitars
» All Guitars & Accessories
» All Bass Guitars & Accessories

» The Electric Guitar: History, Sound and Playing Techniques
» Fender vs. Gibson: What’s the Difference?
» Guitar & Bass: What Does ‘Fretboard Radius’ Mean?
» How Much Does the Wood of a Guitar Fretboard Matter?
» Locking Tuners On Your Guitar: How & Why?
» Stratocaster versus Telecaster: what are the differences?

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