True Temperament Guitar Necks

December 2, 2009
0.00TT_Formula1_cmykIf you take one look at the bent, asymmetrical frets on the True Temperament neck ($595 direct for the Thidell Formula 1 system shown here) and feel a little freaked out, you’re not alone. We didn’t really know what to make of this thing when we first saw it either, but here’s the deal: Normal, equally spaced parallel frets only take into account one factor of a vibrating string—scale length. The relative tension and mass of different strings at different frets plays a huge part in intonation, however, and the geniuses at TT take those things into consideration and, as they say on their website, they set out to “adjust each and every string-to-fret contact point on the fingerboard separately, until each and every note plays the target frequency exactly.” Uh…okay. Here’s the craziest part: It works and it works brilliantly. My brainpower is insufficient to understand how these curved frets make this guitar play so gorgeously in tune, but my ears are convinced. Standard issue major and minor chords in the lower positions sound amazing, but not at the expense of fourths or fifths, which still sound in tune. But it’s the upper-register chords that are the true mind-bogglers. I’m able to take a simple D shape and play it all the way up to the 19th fret and it is completely in tune. These high voicings sound like a whole new instrument and you can feel the instrument resonate in a whole new—and much more consonant—way. I know what you’re thinking, but seriously—you have to try this.
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