George Lowden on the Lowden Fan Fret Design
Despite fan fret string instruments having been traced as far back as the 16th century, it was usually the case that a fan fret guitar was only available to order from a few individual luthiers. However, since 2012, Lowden Guitars have included the fan fret as an option that’s available on all models.
Here, George Lowden sheds some light on the complexities of designing a fan fret guitar:
“The main aim was to increase bass depth through increasing the string length on the bass side, while at the same time achieve more ‘bell like’ trebles by shortening the string length on the treble side. However, it was important to choose string lengths that will allow any player to quickly adapt to the fan fret design . . . The angle of the first fret was also a factor in the design choices with playability in mind again - too much angle and it becomes difficult to play, too little and the bridge has to be angled too much for effective acoustic coupling between the bridge and the soundboard bracing. I chose a bass string length of 680 mm (26 3/4”) and a treble string length of 635 mm (25”)”
Despite Lowden’s initial suspicion that a fan fret guitar was “bound to be very difficult to play,” the Lowden Fan Fret is actually incredibly intuitive to play. What’s more, the unusual Lowden Extended Bridge means that no changes are required to the unique Lowden internal soundboard bracing which is an integral part of the voicing of every Lowden body shape and size.