Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Rasputin
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Rasputin » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:09 pm

I'm just not seeing the ambiguity. It is a system of compensation that gives you better intonation (actual fretted pitches closer to theoretical pitches) in whatever tuning system (scheme of theoretical pitches) it is constructed for. The one on the KH guitar is constructed for ET.

I'm also not seeing why you think TT are exploiting any ambiguity. or where the general animosity towards them is coming from.

It doesn't follow from the fact that the traditional system is good, or that Trevor Gore uses it expertly (neither of which I doubt) that there cannot be a better system out there. My initial reaction was what we already have is good enough, and any difference was going to be so marginal that it wasn't really worthwhile, but Kenny Hill seems to have come to it with a similar attitude and been convinced by the sound of the instrument, which after all is what really counts.

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bacsidoan
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by bacsidoan » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:18 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:09 pm
I'm just not seeing the ambiguity. It is a system of compensation that gives you better intonation (actual fretted pitches closer to theoretical pitches) in whatever tuning system (scheme of theoretical pitches) it is constructed for. The one on the KH guitar is constructed for ET.

I'm also not seeing why you think TT are exploiting any ambiguity. or where the general animosity towards them is coming from.

It doesn't follow from the fact that the traditional system is good, or that Trevor Gore uses it expertly (neither of which I doubt) that there cannot be a better system out there. My initial reaction was what we already have is good enough, and any difference was going to be so marginal that it wasn't really worthwhile, but Kenny Hill seems to have come to it with a similar attitude and been convinced by the sound of the instrument, which after all is what really counts.
Do you see anywhere in their website where they clearly state that they make the fretboard faithfully based on the Equal Temperament? I'll concede that It is possible that they tweak the frequency here and there to make the guitar sound better in the common keys for CG music. In that case there might be some tangible advantage for their "True Temperament" scheme.

SteveL123
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by SteveL123 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:44 pm

Here's a 2013 interview with the man himself Anders Thidell.


https://https://youtu.be/9MgiIY3qD10?t=1
Last edited by SteveL123 on Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:57 pm, edited 7 times in total.

JRomano
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by JRomano » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:44 pm

George Lowden builds a "fan fret" guitar, which is another way, I think to make intonation more accurate. So, perhaps this is just another version of such?

Rasputin
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Rasputin » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:13 pm

bacsidoan wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:18 pm
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:09 pm
I'm just not seeing the ambiguity. It is a system of compensation that gives you better intonation (actual fretted pitches closer to theoretical pitches) in whatever tuning system (scheme of theoretical pitches) it is constructed for. The one on the KH guitar is constructed for ET.

I'm also not seeing why you think TT are exploiting any ambiguity. or where the general animosity towards them is coming from.

It doesn't follow from the fact that the traditional system is good, or that Trevor Gore uses it expertly (neither of which I doubt) that there cannot be a better system out there. My initial reaction was what we already have is good enough, and any difference was going to be so marginal that it wasn't really worthwhile, but Kenny Hill seems to have come to it with a similar attitude and been convinced by the sound of the instrument, which after all is what really counts.
Do you see anywhere in their website where they clearly state that they make the fretboard faithfully based on the Equal Temperament?
No, not in so many words. Equal temperament is a based on increments of the 12th root of 2, so that when you go up 12 half-steps you end up with exactly twice the frequency you started with, i.e. a just octave. In the extract above Anders is saying that the problem with positioning the frets based on the 12th root of 2 is that it ignores the reality of how strings behave. IOW he his saying this would be correct in an ideal world but in our world some adjustments are necessary to compensate for the way real strings behave. That means that his target pitches are the 12th root of 2 pitches (i.e. ET) and the problem his system is addressing is that straight frets can't deliver them.
I'll concede that It is possible that they tweak the frequency here and there to make the guitar sound better in the common keys for CG music. In that case there might be some tangible advantage for their "True Temperament" scheme.
But that would be changing the temperament, not improving the intonation. The point is to get to the true temperament that the customer wants - so ET in 99.9% of cases - not to tweak it. The problem is that straight frets introduce unwanted tweaks. Consider that every time you fret a note you are bending it slightly - it doesn't make any difference that the bend is towards the fingerboard and not across it, you are still introducing extra tension. The amount added will vary depending on the string and fret, as will the extent to which a given amount changes the pitch (but I can't see any reason why these would cancel out). At the same time the placement of the frets is based on a simplifying assumption that the distance along the string from saddle to fret is the same as the distance in a plane parallel to the fingerboard, whereas in reality the string forms the hypotenuse of a triangle because the saddle is higher than the fret. I guess this can be adjusted for in calculating where to put straight frets, but the calcuation would build in an assumption about action height, and you would still have the bending effect to contend with. Saddle compensation can ensure that the unwanted effects cancel out at the 12th (so that the fretted note matches the harmonic, i.e. is exactly twice the frequency of the open string) - but only at the 12th. If you compensate at saddle and nut (I haven't looked into nut compensation in detail but this makes sense) then you spread the inaccuracies out over the whole string and improve the intonation further. The TT system improves it still further by making the effects cancel out everywhere, rather than just at the 12th, leaving you with the true 12th root of 2 pitches (or whatever pitches you actually want, if you are a fan of some other tuning system) right across the fretboard. The strings still have an impact, and old strings could still have intonation problems (because the calculation of the fret position that is necessary to make the effects cancel is based on the assumption that the string will behave as it does while still good) but I am prepared to believe that the improvement may be worthwhile. Not enough to order a new guitar today, I have to admit, but I will definitely think about it when the time comes for a new one.
SteveL123 wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:44 pm
Here's a 2013 interview with the man himself Anders Thidell.
If it wasn't for the website this interview would make me doubt exactly what the system is intended to achieve. For some reason the video started about 5 minutes in but the relevant bits are before that. He talks about making chords sound sweeter (well he may not have used those exact words) and achieving a sound that was in his head, which sounds very much like a different temperament. It is also an effect of better compensation but the ET pitches are never going to sound all that sweet because ET is itself a compromise. Half the reason I don't mind the imperfect intonation of the guitar is that you have to tolerate some imperfection if you are going to play in ET, and a tiny bit more doesn't really make any difference.

BTW I never noticed the similarity between Swedish and Irish accents before.

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petermc61
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by petermc61 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:10 pm

It is true I haven’t played a wiggly fret guitar, however I can’t imagine (given the natural pitch error/variance just because of finger pressure and placement) that any improvement beyond what Doan described above (and which I confirm Trevor can achieve) would be audible.

Now, if the matter is the sound quality of equal temperament vs something else then that is an entirely different question. I can’t answer that. What isn’t clear is whether the Hill guitars are wiggly fretted to optimise ET or something else.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Trevor Gore » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:15 am

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:13 pm
The problem is that straight frets introduce unwanted tweaks. Consider that every time you fret a note you are bending it slightly - it doesn't make any difference that the bend is towards the fingerboard and not across it, you are still introducing extra tension. The amount added will vary depending on the string and fret, as will the extent to which a given amount changes the pitch (but I can't see any reason why these would cancel out). At the same time the placement of the frets is based on a simplifying assumption that the distance along the string from saddle to fret is the same as the distance in a plane parallel to the fingerboard, whereas in reality the string forms the hypotenuse of a triangle because the saddle is higher than the fret. I guess this can be adjusted for in calculating where to put straight frets, but the calcuation would build in an assumption about action height, and you would still have the bending effect to contend with. Saddle compensation can ensure that the unwanted effects cancel out at the 12th (so that the fretted note matches the harmonic, i.e. is exactly twice the frequency of the open string) - but only at the 12th. If you compensate at saddle and nut (I haven't looked into nut compensation in detail but this makes sense) then you spread the inaccuracies out over the whole string and improve the intonation further.
There is zero doubt that straight frets can produce as accurate equal temperament on a guitar as is realistically possible* if nut and saddle compensation is properly applied. Too many authors have published papers on the subject to leave any doubt. They differ in the methods they use to achieve this, and some methods are easier to apply than others. Published authors include Greg Byers (American Lutherie #47), Magliari and MacRostie (AL #116), John Gilbert (via David Schramm's site) and of course me in Contemporary Acoustic Guitar Design and Build. That's not to say that wiggly frets won't work, it's just that as a guitar builder, given the choice, it's a lot easier for me to do nut and saddle compensation on a conventional fretboard than to make and install wiggly frets.

The method I use to calculate compensation includes all the variables mentioned above (nut height, action per fret per string, each string's (different) material properties, modeling of the string deformation around the players fretting finger, etc. etc.). One interesting fact that comes out of the modeling is that if the nut is in the same plane as the frets, and there is zero relief, and the string is fretted (with some knife edge type of device) on the crown of the fret, saddle compensation only is required for accurate equal temperament for real strings. That's why for many people saddle-only compensation is good enough most of the time. For real guitars with neck relief and finger pressure applied between the frets to cleanly stop the string, further work is required to achieve real ET accuracy. Perhaps surprisingly, nut compensation and string length compensation together with (different) saddle compensation is sufficient to achieve this accuracy without wiggly frets.
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:13 pm
If you compensate at saddle and nut (I haven't looked into nut compensation in detail but this makes sense...)
Definitely worth looking into nut compensation in detail.
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:03 pm
I haven't had time to look at the maths in the article Trevor linked to but anything that comes out in a conclusion that the frets should be straight (for ET) is either ignoring the other factors mentioned in the extract above or demonstrating that they cancel out.
I think the only way you're going to be convinced that straight frets will work is to go to the maths. There's a good book I could recommend! :D

* There are other causes of intonation problems that can't be addressed by changes in fretboard geometry
Trevor Gore: Classical Guitar Design and Build

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robin loops
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by robin loops » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:37 am

If you used pitch correction on Neil Young's vocals it would sound terrible because his pitchiness is part of the character of his voice and singing style.

Perhaps attempts to improve only complicate things and sacrifice some of the character of the guitart that actually is part of what makes it what it is...
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

amezcua
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by amezcua » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:29 pm

For robin loops --attempts to improve only complicates etc ---shows you are only dipping your toes in the shallow end . The very real improvements , which are basically an increase in resonances between notes , will have no negative effects on the character of guitars at all .The sounds will become much more vivid rather than bland .
Still the nameless and illogical dread of wiggly frets is casting it`s long shadow across the Delcamp forum .Kenny has already told you it`s not a problem . This topic is about Wiggly Frets and not Equal Temperament. Embrace the Wiggly Frets and rejoice that something new and wonderful is being unveiled .

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Trevor Gore » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:28 am

amezcua wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:29 pm
This topic is about Wiggly Frets and not Equal Temperament. Embrace the Wiggly Frets and rejoice that something new and wonderful is being unveiled .
...and the OP asked what we thought...
hesson11 wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:11 am
Maybe this has been done before, but I've never seen it. The frets are "wiggly" in an effort to improve intonation. I can't link to it because Kenny's site sells guitars direct, but if you go to his site and click on the "performance intonation" blurb on the home page, you'll see it. Just wondering what everyone thinks of this approach.
-Bob
I think we ought to be able to confirm what intonation we're trying to improve upon, and if it is equal temperament, my thoughts are that there are better ways of achieving accurate equal temperament without the use of odd-ball scale lengths and wiggly frets. For those who want to play other temperaments, go for your lives, with or without wiggly frets! If you're happy with the standard fare, that's fine, too, of course.
Trevor Gore: Classical Guitar Design and Build

Rasputin
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Rasputin » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:25 am

Trevor Gore wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:15 am
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:03 pm
I haven't had time to look at the maths in the article Trevor linked to but anything that comes out in a conclusion that the frets should be straight (for ET) is either ignoring the other factors mentioned in the extract above or demonstrating that they cancel out.
I think the only way you're going to be convinced that straight frets will work is to go to the maths. There's a good book I could recommend! :D
Yeah you're probably right there. I had a look at the Magliari article you mentioned - his approach is based on using straight frets but altering the positioning to take account of the effect depressing a string has on tension. He acknowledges that the frets should really be wiggly, but says if you average out the wiggles and use straight frets, that is close enough - so it's a practical compromise. I realise that that is not the same as your approach, but it seems the maths behind that are in your book - I do have some interest in this topic, but I'm not really up for buying and ploughing through a book on it, so I'll sign off and wish everybody happy and well-intonated playing.

amezcua
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by amezcua » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:23 pm

I have been looking at the Bradley Leahman site where he analyses several piano temperaments and includes ET . He has made a personal subjective ( Somebody get a rope ? Well you have to start somewhere ) scale of musically acceptable intervals . The scale begins at 0 which is "Pure". as in simple whole numbers eg 3/2. The less pure come in at 10 which counts as a wolf . One temperament has a 17 in there . Equal Temperament comes in with a less than dazzling average of 6 for nearly everything .
In a different site you can find a pie chart showing the most common keys played on guitars . Obviously the "worse keys" will be the most awkward to play physically . Also the minor keys are not as popular as the common Major keys . So even if you can modulate through every key in ET why would you ever want to anyway ?
If TT are making a business out of their temperament they will very sensibly take into account the market as it is now : What do most modern players want the most ? The want a good sound . A better sound than an average 6 represents . That won`t win any league championships .
TT may be using ET but maybe not . You would have to measure the frequencies and analyse it all if they won`t tell you .It`s not safe to make a big assumption but there is room for improvement to shift all those 6s . Maybe TT has a few 0s in there for Kenny to enjoy .
Bradley Leahman has analysed masses of information that we can digest and maybe use or come to different conclusions.
TT have looked at the historical temperaments as well . They deserve credit for their efforts .

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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:56 pm

As much as I think it is clear that the guitar Kenny Hill is talking about is an ET instrument with better intonation...
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, True Temperament wrote: What does “True Temperament” mean?
TRUE TEMPERAMENT™ does not imply Just Intonation. It is physically impossible to implement Just Intonation in more than one specific key (and its relative minor) on any instrument with only 12 intervals in the octave. (Except perhaps for computer-controlled instruments using electronically generated sounds.)

What we mean by TRUE TEMPERAMENT™ is that our fretting system will give you super-accurate intonation over the whole fingerboard in the temperament it is constructed for.
OK, so what temperament is the guitar Kenny Hill is on about constructed for?
hillguitar wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:25 pm
This is not a mode, or a different twelve note temperament — it’s good in all keys, it sounds good all the way through my repertoire.
If it's not different, then I would have said it has to be standard 12TET. Still, it's obvious that many people don't think that is at all clear:
petermc61 wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:10 pm
What isn’t clear is whether the Hill guitars are wiggly fretted to optimise ET or something else.
bacsidoan wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:18 pm
Do you see anywhere in their website where they clearly state that they make the fretboard faithfully based on the Equal Temperament?
... and that's just on this page. The doubt has been there from the beginning (this from page 1):
JohnH wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:38 am
This "wiggly" fretting appears to depart from equal temperament so there is a key it favors... I did not see any description of the temperament this system implements.
Surely it would be simple for Kenny / hillguitar to confirm whether the target pitches are the ET pitches or whether they belong to another temperament or have been sweetened in some more esoteric way - what's with the air of mystery guys?

amezcua
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by amezcua » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:02 am

There is no deliberate mystery involved with True Temperament as the whole thing is explained on the TT site .The headline tells us this is the "Lehman /Bach 1722 Temperament " based on the squiggles Bach wrote on the top of the page himself .
Who knew that Squiggles would turn into Wiggles . I have been looking for details of this Lehman temperament and realised I had come this way before . It`s a really good temperament even if you don`t believe the squiggles theory. So if you liked nut compensation you will love this .

Rasputin
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Re: Kenny Hill's new performance intonation "wiggly" fretting

Post by Rasputin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:20 pm

I'm not sure what headline you mean. There is certainly a comparison of Bach/Lehman and Thidell temperaments on the site but TT will make up a fretboard for whatever tuning system you like - hence the comment about a TT fretboard giving you accurate intonation "in whatever temperament it is constructed for". They are not saying that that all their fretboards are based on Bach/Lehman - see for example:

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.

or

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...

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.

Meantone Blues is a special case, and is not intended for use with instruments in other temperaments.


So they will make you what you like, but most people are going to pick ET. The question is what Hill Guitars picked. Although, as I was saying above, I think it is implicit in the blog post that it is ET, for some reason they don't seem to want to come out and say so.

The guy behind TT seems to have a similar view on key colours to you, Amezcua. He gives us some historical descriptions of different keys, based on well temperament. The one for D minor caught my eye: "Melancholy womanliness, the spleen and humours brood".

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