From Liz Moore
Posted January 3, 2011 at 08:52 PM
I have recently become intrigued by the thought of a guitar tuned six string violin (with frets) I would love one of Mark Wood's vipers but that is a bit beyond my means, especially on an experimental lark. I was thinking of getting a six string electric and having frets put on it but I don't know where to get the special strings? I have not been able to get onto Woodviolins.com for some reason. I seem to think that he is not the only manufacturer of guitar/violin strings.
1. Strings are regular strings and viola or baritone violin strings--you just use them slightly tuned down etc. So e is e, b is an a tuned up, g is an a tuned down, d i is d, A is a G tuned up, E is a viola C tuned up etc. Mark Wood describes this in detail on his website.
2. Fretting a violin is not a trivial task. Refretting a guitar will run you over $300. To take a fiddle and figure it out has to cost more than that. Note that fretted versions of violins by John Jordan etc cost more by a couple hundred dollars.
3. There is an all-electric shop in North Carolina. I've talked to them. www.electricviolinshop.com/
4. I still don't have an electric violin. But I keep thinking about it.
5. Wood makes a "stingray" which costs less than the viper. I'm sure he'll do a 6 string. None of them are pricey. They are only a couple thousand bucks.
6. There is a company "Vector" making a 6 string for under $2500. Maybe they can fret it for $2800 or something.
You might also browse to Eric Aceto's site www.ithacastring.com/ to learn other possible options. Eric makes five, six, and seven-string violin and will be a good resource.
That info about the strings was interesting. I will look into that. Ahh, if I could afford a Mark Wood violin that would be great. A few thousand dollars just isn't going to happen though, More like a few hundred. I have gotten a couple electric violas from a seller on ebay that I am happy with (TDZPF or something like that). I was going to get one of his six strings and then send it to frettedviolins.com who will put frets on a violin for $15 a fret. That keeps things much more affordable.
Stew-Mac has a fret board calculator on their site so i think the calculations for where to put frets shouldn't be that big a deal. It's "just" the skill and the labor.
The Stew-Mac calculator doesn't include fiddle.
The compensation equation looks wonky. The mandolin equation looks wrong. The G string should be longer than the e string but they have it t'other way!
The calculator works by putting in the theoretical string length, then breaking it up into logarithmically spaced semitones.
This isn't going to put the frets in the right position.
Putting frets onto an existing acoustic fiddle, or onto an existing electric with a fixed bridge location (due perhaps to pick-ups etc) is not so easy!
Because you already have a bridge location, you have no idea what the theoretical string length is for frets, because you don't have any way to theoretically calculate compensation. And the compensation varies considerably with string gage and string construction.
What you could do, is experimentally determine the correct location for the 12th fret, for each string, and then place a fret that averages across them. You might need a compensated bridge in the end. I don't know. Maybe not. You certainly need one on a mandolin!
Once you have the 12th fret located, then you can take that distance from the nut, and double it, to find the theoretical string length. Then with that, go ahead and use the Stew-Mac, or better yet, do it yourself with your own spreadsheet, calculator or slide rule. :- D
If you have frets, the witness point of the nut is critically important. The nut groove height becomes super important. Your ability to change string gages becomes more limited.
There are many "gotchas" when you go from unfretted to fretted. When I play guitar (which I do more than fiddle now) I sometimes have to sort of tell myself to stop being so picky--the thirds are never in tune ever on a logarithmic fretboard.
Mr. Plat, I hadn't thought of those many details, thanks.
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