Short frets

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DanSymonds
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Short frets

Post by DanSymonds » Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:59 pm

Can anyone explain to me why older zithers have some short frets that don't cross the fretboard in the high positions? Thanks. Dan

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Dave
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Re: Short frets

Post by Dave » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:30 pm

Dan, I don’t have an answer for you, but I am attaching a photo to illustrate your question and also a reply from luthier Sasha Radicic with his thoughts on zither fretboards. He writes:

"I have never understood these shortened frets myself either. By the way, I really think the zither should have a maximum of 24 frets. More than that and you have that clicking annoying sound created from the steel thumb ring against 25+ frets, and often they are “eaten” and it-kinda looks ugly on every zither I repaired. Tomy Temerson is the one who suggested having only 24 frets and I welcome that idea. As a matter of fact, when making new zithers, I have set up my tools and jigs for 24 frets only! It is also less of a fret board mass on the top, freeing it from unwanted damping, and I noticed that sustain gets better with a 24 fret fingerboard!"


So, the question is still open. :-)

Dave
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fretboard.jpg
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enslein
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Re: Short frets

Post by enslein » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:56 am

Thats an interesting question.
But the reason why some higher frets are shorter is simple.
The first Zithers were ditonic. It was nearly impossible to play chromatic themes on Fretboard.
They dont need any chromatic fretboard, bechause the music they player was very simple.
The accompagment strings were diatonic too. Johann Petzmayer and Herzog Max in Bayern allready played this diatonic tunig.

So on the very early fretboard are some frets completly missing.
They didnt need them to play their diatonic music.
I´ve attached a photo from an old Kiendl Zither with missing frets.
The first chromatic fretboard is used by Nicolaus Weigel 1838 in his forgotten Zitherschool.

The short frets are for a better orientation on high positions and a relict from the missing frets.
So much older the Zither, so much shorter are the frets.
And the pearlmother inlays still go to the high c.

I hope i could help you
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Helmzither Anton Kiendl - Kopie - Kopie.JPG
Helmzither Anton Kiendl - Kopie - Kopie.JPG (45.09 KiB) Viewed 387 times

DanSymonds
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: Short frets

Post by DanSymonds » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:30 am

Thank you very much enslein and Dave. Very interesting and thought provoking. The picture you show looks very much like our Appalachian dulcimer which is based on a modal scale.
I also think there too many frets; I can not get any tone from the higher positions, but perhaps there is a special technique.

DanSymonds
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:19 pm

Re: Short frets

Post by DanSymonds » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:05 pm

Enslein, I found an interesting illustration of your explanation in a picture of a proto-zither showing just this type of fret board:
http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the ... her&pos=30
Thanks again. Dan

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