We recently acquired a singular instrument – an experimental meantone guitar made by the great French luthier Daniel Friederich in 1976. As you can see, the fretboard looks a little crazy. Fortunately, we have the world’s authority on what is commonly referred to as microtonal guitar right here in Santa Monica – John Schneider. We called John to get some information on this guitar and others like it, and discovered that he’s been working with our friend Mak Grgic on music written for, let’s say ‘differently fretted’ guitars. In fact, Mak is currently working on a CD of microtonal music (we’ll keep you posted on that).
In the videos John and GSI president David Collett discuss what microtonal music is, how composers and musicians have looked at tuning over the years, and how the meantone guitar works. We also have some great performances of music by Lou Harrison, played by John, and of music by Francesco da Milano and Silvius Leopold Weiss performed by Mak.
Since not all microtonal guitars are the same (as John explains in the videos), they brought in a couple of John’s instruments, too. One is a 1988 Walter Vogt that features a “Fine-tunable Precision Fret-board” invented by the maker [U.S. Patent # 4,981,064] that consists of one individual moveable ‘fretlet’ for each note on the instrument. The 110 individual frets are also slightly U-shaped shaped pieces of fretwire, designed to counteract any mistuning by inadvertent bending of the string. The instrument also uses Vogt’s specially designed compensating nut. The other is John’s 1982 Bob Mattingly with custom Interchangeable Fingerboards by Novatone.
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