This commemorative version of Ralph Novak’s original Fanned-Fret wonder is easy to play and sounds fantastic.

The history of guitar is defined by reinvention, and when it comes to getting the geometry of 6-string sonics right, Ralph Novak’s fanned-fret instruments are some of the most beneficially imaginative guitar evolutions of the last three decades.

But at first glance, fanned-fret guitars are not everyone’s cup of tea. To the uninitiated, they can seem unnecessarily odd or even hubristic in comparison to traditional designs. But it’s the science behind this fanning that makes believers out of many skeptics—there’s a method to what may outwardly look like madness. If you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not just the frets that are splayed out in a funky-looking array: Each string’s bridge saddle is also staggered across the face of the instrument in order to conform to careful measurements optimized for that string. In layman’s, terms the objective is to get uniform harmonic content across the fretboard, and the fullest possible frequency range that can be generated from each note. The benefits aren’t all sonic, however. Varying string lengths also contribute to more consistent-feeling tension across each string. Once players get past the initial adjustment in feel, they often remark that the Novax feels easy to play and more in tune across the fretboard.

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