Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to use a particular string gauge?
  • What if I want to use a wound 3rd, or heavy strings?
  • Can I tune down a half-step?
  • How do I tune these temperaments?
  • How do I adjust my guitar's intonation after installing one of these necks?
  • What do I do when the frets need dressing?
  • How do I get one of these necks refretted?
  • What is the difference between Equal Temper and Well temper?
  • What is the difference between Die Wohltemperirte Gitarre and Thidell Formula 1?
  • What happens when True Temperament guitars are used with other guitars, bass, piano etc?
  • What is Meantone Blues?
  • What about acoustic and bass guitars?


  • Q: Do I need to use a particular string gauge?
    A:
    Our necks are optimised for standard plain 3rd string sets from 0.009" - 0.046" & 0.010" - 0.046", to 0,011" - 0,050". We have found that normal intonation at the octave is enough to handle this range of gauges.
    Using a wound 3rd is not an option if you have a True Temperament neck designed for a plain 3rd string.
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    What if I want to use a wound 3rd, or heavy strings?
    A:
    We will be adding necks designed specifically for thicker strings, and sets with a wound 3rd, at a later date.
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    Q: Can I tune down a half-step?
    A:
    You can tune down and/or change string gauges within sensible limits. A half step down works fine. The limitation on how low you can go before the intonation craps out is most often the (plain) 3rd string - anything thicker than a 0.018" usually sounds horribly "plonky", but thinner ones can become too floppy (and difficult to intonate) when tuned down - and again, using a wound 3rd is not an option if you have a True Temperament neck designed for a plain 3rd string.
    We will be adding versions specifically designed for low tunings at a later date.
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    Q: How do I tune these temperaments?
    A:
    Where Equal Temperament is concerned, exactly the way you should be tuning now. Here is an in-depth analysis of correct and incorrect methods of tuning the equal tempered guitar:

  • Tuning methods evaluated
  • The 5 - 5 - 5 - 4 - 5 fret method, or tuning with octaves, will always work with any of these temperaments. Specific instructions for tuning Das Wohltemperirte Gitarre™, Thidell Formula 1™ and Meantone Blues™ temperaments, by ear or with an electronic tuner, including offset settings for progammable tuners, are here:

  • Die Wohltemperirte Gitarre™
  • Thidell Formula 1™
  • Meantone Blues™
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    Q: How do I adjust my guitar's intonation after installing one of these necks?
    A:
    In exactly the same way you would intonate with a standard neck - by matching the open string notes to the octave (12th fret) notes.
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    Q: What do I do when the frets need dressing?
    A:
    Fret levelling is done the exact same way as with standard frets. Re-crowning is more time-consuming than with standard frets, but any skilled luthier should be able to handle the job. (He will of course charge you considerably more than for standard frets!) We will be making some simple and affordable tools available to make the job pretty much as easy as the standard fret job. If you can't find a luthier who will take on the job you can send the neck to us for fret dressing at a reasonable rate.
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    Q: How do I get one of these necks refretted?
    A:
    Refretting a True Temperament neck requires considerably more patience than refretting a standard neck, but uses the exact same techniques. We can supply a new set of frets, with instructions and tips, to any owner or luthier, and we will be making a special fret press shoe available, which will fit Stewart MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply fret presses. (We will also supply individual frets for repair situations.) Or you can send the neck to us for refretting.
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    Q: What is the difference between Equal Temper and Well Temper?
    A:
    Our 12-Tone Equal Tempered model tunes the way the guitar is "supposed" to tune - according to the mathematical formula - but much more accurately than with standard straight frets. However, the Equal Tempered scale is not the only way to divide the octave into semitones, historically hundreds of other systems have been devised. Many of these temperaments are available in software on most modern keyboard instruments and computer music programs, but unfortunately they are seldom used. Many of these are so-called "Well Temperaments", where certain chosen keys are favourred to different degrees. What this means is that intervals in these keys are closer to Just than the strict mathematical approach allows for, at the cost of sacrificing the purity of seldom used keys a little.

    As a general rule, the closer to Just certain key signatures are tuned, the fewer playable other keys that are left - unless you are willing to add more intervals to the standard 12 to the octave. In good Well tempered systems all the key signatures are usable, with a good tonal balance between them.

    The Equal Tempered scale, as its name implies, is made up of 12 equal intervals, which gives the same balance of intervals in all the key signatures. All the keys therefore sound the same. Well tempered intervals are not regular, and thus each key signature has its own unique blend of intervals. This gives each key its own personality, or "colour" - some sound happy or playful, while others sound sad and serious. These "Key Colours" were regarded as an important part of musical expression before the introduction of the Equal Tempered scale in the mid-1800's swept them away. J.S. Bach, for example, used choice of key signature very effectively to express emotional effects. See: Key Colours
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    Q: What is the difference between Die Wohltemperirte Gitarre and Thidell Formula 1?
    A:
    Die Wohltemperirte Gitarre and Thidell Formula 1 are both so-called "Well" temperaments. The first-named is adapted for the guitar from Dr. Bradley Lehman's brilliant reconstruction of the temperament used by J.S. Bach in "Das Wohltemperirte Clavier", Book 1. (See: www.larips.com.) Thidell Formula 1 uses the same approach but is adapted to the unique features of the guitar.

    The difference between Die Wohltemperirte Gitarre and Thidell Formula 1 is in the balance between different key signatures.

    Major keys in "Wohl" which are closer to Just are F, G, Bb, C, D.
    Minor keys: . E, F#, Ab, A, B, D.

    Major keys in Thidell F1 which are closer to Just are E, F#, G, A, B, C, D.
    Minor keys: E, F#, Ab, A, B, Eb.

    The reason for this is that "Wohl" was originally constructed for keyboard instruments, while Formula 1 is exclusively constructed for the guitar.

    For a more detailed description of how these temperaments are constructed, see: Technical details

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    Q: What happens when True Temperament guitars are used with other guitars, bass, piano etc?
    A:
    Our 12-Tone Equal Temperament versions tune considerably better against keyboards than "ordinary" guitars. Against other guitars they can highlight the tuning problems which plague "ordinary" guitars - the problems which True Temperament was developed to solve. The effect is seldom disturbing, however, it manifests itself as a sort of "chorusing".

    Our Well tempered versions work just fine together with "ordinary" instruments. The offsets from Equal Temper are not so severe that they normally create dissonance. Each Well temperament has its own unique personality which never sounds "wrong", on the contrary they enrich the musical interplay. One could describe them as different dialects of the same musical language.

    Meantone Blues is a special case, and is not intended for use with instruments in other temperaments.
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    Q: What is Meantone Blues?
    A:
    Meantone Blues is an adaptation for the guitar of the Meantone Intonation which was in general use from the 14th to the 17th centuries. (W.A. Mozart, for example, wrote his music in Extended Meantone Intonation.) In Meantone the major thirds are Just, and the minor thirds are almost Just. A general rule is that the closer to Just you tune certain key signatures, the fewer the number of other playable keys which remain, if you stick to the standard 12 intervals in the octave. Due to the very close to Just tuning of the thirds, it was necessary to add two extra frets to the Meantone Blues neck, to give for example Just F# major and G# major thirds .
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    Q: What about acoustic and bass guitars?
    A:
    We are working on fingerboards for nylon strung guitars (650mm scale) right now, and acoustic bronze string (also 650mm scale) fingerboards are next on our list of priorities. 34" scale electric bass necks are also planned. Other versions will be made available according to demand.
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    Patent Pending