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Wrong design for guitar???

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Kosmos
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I was reading a back issue of an old Guitar magazine from 1996 and there is an article in the news section regarding the 'Buzz Feiten Tempered Tuning System'. This article states that a guitarist called 'Buzz Feiten' claims the reason you can't tune your guitar properly is because the guitar is designed wrong in the first place.

To cut a long story short after having done his research 'Buzz Feiten' discovered a mistake in the formula used for fret placement which lead him to move the nut back closer to the first fret, and then the second thing done involved a number of tuning compensations to each string.

This solution was claimed to reslove all fret and string discrepancies and a much better sounding guitar. I realize this is old news but I thought I would share this for the benefit of those unaware and would be interested to know if anybody here has a guitar with this system in place and can confrim the difference in sound.

Also does anybody know how things have evolved since then for better or worse so to speak regarding the 'Buzz Feiten' system?

"Sometimes you wonder, I mean really wonder. I know we make our own reality and we always have a choice, but how much is pre-ordained?"

John Lennon


   
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TwistedLefty
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While shopping a while back at MF i noticed that the Washburns i was interested in all had this system.
Here's an interview/article with the man,
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/document?doc_id=93019&g=home&s=articles

"Guitar.com: Can you explain it to us? What makes the Buzz Feiten Tuning System different from a normal guitar setup?

Feiten: The quick and dirty version is that there are two parts to the Buzz Feiten Tuning System. First, we relocate the nut very slightly closer to the first fret, but to a very precise location - and we have mathematical formulas that determine that. We have a network of authorized retro-fitters in all the States and overseas too, that you can find on BuzzFeiten.com. We have more than 210 retro-fitters worldwide that are trained and authorized to install the Buzz Feiten Tuning System.

So the first part is the nut relocation. This (shows his guitar) happens to be a locking nut. It's possible to put the tuning system on a locking nut guitar or a standard nut guitar. On a standard nut, what we do is relocate the nut very slightly closer to the first fret because, when we first started to do our research we noticed that every guitar we picked up was a minimum of three cents sharp at the first fret. So if you play an open E string, the F at your first fret - on every guitar we picked up - measured three cents sharp. This was back in 1992 when we first started our research.

So we came to the conclusion that there is a flaw in the formulas in regards to nut placement. So we have these patented formulas that correct that nut placement so that now, if the open E is in tune, so is the first-fret F, and all the other frets all the way up the neck are in tune too."

#4491....


   
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clockworked
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"...when we first started to do our research we noticed that every guitar we picked up was a minimum of three cents sharp at the first fret. So if you play an open E string, the F at your first fret - on every guitar we picked up - measured three cents sharp."

And here I thought I was anal about tuning. What a prude.

Used to be, was a part of me felt like hiding.. but now it comes through. Comes through to you.


   
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boxboy
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when we first started to do our research we noticed that every guitar we picked up was a minimum of three cents sharp at the first fret.

I don't get the meaning of 'three cents'. Is it 3 percent?

Don


   
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Steve-0
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I don't get the meaning of 'three cents'. Is it 3 percent?

I could be wrong but I think it's a unit of sound, i don't know really but maybe it's those little markings between the b (far left side) and # (far right side) on a guitar tuner.

Well, the whole aspect of this tuning system doesn't bother me much, so long as it's setup decently and tuned properly, i'll deal with three cents of sound variation, whatever that even means.

Steve-0


   
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gnease
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A cent is 1/100 of a half step pitch difference for tempered tuning. That is, being off by 100 cents is equivalent to a half step error in tuning, e.g. Eb (-100 cents) or F (+100 cents) instead of E.

Buzz Feiten system is essentially nut compensation -- similar to bridge compensation, but for different reasons. BF is actually a simplified and commercialized version of individual string nut compensation, which has been around for quite some time. I believe it mainly compensates the stretching of the strings that occurs when fretting on the first frets. Because this sharpens the note somewhat, the distance between the nut and the first fret can be shorter. The combined stretch and slightly short (calculated) fretting distance adds up to the proper total pitch shift.

The drawback to all of the nut compensation schemes, is they require special tuning considerations. Many feel that nut compensation makes a better sounding guitar, esp for open position and low fretted notes. It does sound different ... maybe a little sweeter. But pragmatically, most of us are used to listening to tempered tuning scales which contain inherent, distributed tuning errors to facilitate key changes on a single, tune-once instrument. Even the best pianos sound out of tune to me because of tempered tuning -- but I can live with it.

BF makes it sound like there is a fundamental error in tempered tuning fret placement formulas; but the "error" is not taking into consideration the characteristics of a "real world" strings -- end effects, stretching during fretting, etc.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Steve-0
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A cent is 1/100 of a half step pitch difference for tempered tuning. That is, being off by 100 cents is equivalent to a half step error in tuning, e.g. Eb (-100 cents) or F (+100 cents) instead of E.

So 3 cents is only about 1/33 of a half step of a difference?!? Wow, thanks for that information. I always knew guitarists were picky about their sound but this is almost un-real :lol:

Steve-0


   
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boxboy
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un-real :lol:
And, for me, inaudible. :D
Thanks for the info though.

Don


   
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Ricochet
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BF makes it sound like there is a fundamental error in tempered tuning fret placement formulas; but the "error" is not taking into consideration the characteristics of a "real world" strings -- end effects, stretching during fretting, etc.
And those real world effects will vary with different string gauges and types, so no fixed arbitrary compensation like the BF system will make it perfect every time.

Personally, I don't think 3 cent intonation errors are worth losing sleep over. You'll see bigger errors from your fingers not fretting the note exactly the same way every time. Also, especially if you use light strings, you'll see (if you have a tuner that responds quickly) that a note is much sharper right after the pick attack, decaying to a lower pitch. What part of that pitch range is the "right" pitch? I go for what it's showing maybe 1/2 second after picking, usually. But if you're playing hard with light strings, that sharp pitch right after picking is very noticeable. All real strings do this, but it's more obvious when the string tension is relatively slack, as with light gauge strings or downtuning. It's a big reason many prefer the "purer" tones of heavy gauge strings.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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Oenyaw
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I would not want to reherse with any one who became intimidated with 3 cents.......at least not again. They are always the types with great equipment and no gigging or recording experience because it's not perfect enough. AS A MATTER OF FACT...the first band I was ever in kicked out their lead guitarist because his constant drive for perfection drove everyone else in the band crazy. ("D***, I played a sharp on the second measure of that song instead of a flat!") I asked why they wanted me (who wasn't any good at all) over him (the virtuoso). They simply replied "exactly."

Anyway. My question is what happens to the 3 cents when you bend the string? Does it become a penny or a nickle? :shock:

Brain-cleansing music for brain-numbing times in a brain dead world
http://www.oenyaw.com


   
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Chris C
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Hi,

I'd guess that the idea of a 'mistake' in the fret position is something of a beat up to 'sell' his ideas. I think it's more like a difference of opinion about the best way to compromise rather than an important flaw that has to be corrected.

There have been many systems and modes of tuning used over the years (there still are in some places) and the "Equal Temperament" system that western music uses now was thought to be the best all round compromise. If you make the arrangement perfect in one section it gets hard to use in others.

Here's some chat about it:

THE GUILD OF AMERICAN LUTHIERS data sheet

and if you understood that, you might like to tackle this:

Wikipedia on tuning

If you followed all that ..... please pop back and explain it all to us... :)

Cheers,

Chris


   
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causnorign
(@causnorign)
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I was reading a back issue of an old Guitar magazine from 1996 and there is an article in the news section regarding the 'Buzz Feiten Tempered Tuning System'. This article states that a guitarist called 'Buzz Feiten' claims the reason you can't tune your guitar properly is because the guitar is designed wrong in the first place.

To cut a long story short after having done his research 'Buzz Feiten' discovered a mistake in the formula used for fret placement which lead him to move the nut back closer to the first fret, and then the second thing done involved a number of tuning compensations to each string.

This solution was claimed to reslove all fret and string discrepancies and a much better sounding guitar. I realize this is old news but I thought I would share this for the benefit of those unaware and would be interested to know if anybody here has a guitar with this system in place and can confrim the difference in sound.

Also does anybody know how things have evolved since then for better or worse so to speak regarding the 'Buzz Feiten' system?

I just sold a Washburn EA20 that had the Buzz Feiten tuning system. To be honest with you all, I never noticed any differance from my other guitars. If evrybody says its good then I guess it must be, but as far as I'm concerned I wouldn't spend any extra to have it.
Eric


   
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Fretted Fingers
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Old? Maybe a little, but this BF tuning system doesn't seem to matter much to me really.
Fret any string, any fret. Pluck it, strike it, do whatever you wish.
Now fret the string a little harder and hear it go sharp.
Maybe he was just putting 3 cents too much pressure? hehe

That's a good reason I don't use the 5th fret as a reference to tune my guitars anymore. A good way to explain what happens by the time you're at the high E is, when you were in grade school and told to whisper a phrase to the kid behind you, and let it go around the room. By the time it gets to the last student, it's never the same as what the first student said.
This happens with your guitar when you tune this way.

Then, I started using the 5th and 7th fret harmonics as a tuning reference.
It seemed to me at the time to be the most accurate way to tune a guitar (granted your 6th string is tuned correctly) until I learned later that the 7th fret harmonic isn't EXACTLY the same as the 5th fret on the string above.
Even though it's barely noticeable, someone with perfect pitch would probably let you know it.
But the same thing happens here, this whisper effect happens, but it's reduced by a lot and most people probably wouldn't even notice. (I still use this method whenever I don't have a tuner with me, though. hehe)

So...now, when at all possible, I always use a tuner to get my guitars in tune, just for the sake of being correct if anything.
*shrug* I just realized I haven't even been talking about the BF system. I just thought I'd give some insight on tuning.

Regards, Jim

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Chris C
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So...now, when at all possible, I always use a tuner to get my guitars in tune, just for the sake of being correct if anything.

As far as I understand it, the biggest issue isn't really that you'll be a bit out if you use the 5th fret method, or harmonics or whatever - it's that you're going to be just "a bit out" whichever method you use, including using a tuner.

I use the 5th fret method for quick checks and it's easy enough to see if the "whispers" issue has made a difference. You just check and see if the high and low E match at the finish. If you've got a reasonable ear then they do.

The difficulty is that the whole "Equal Temperament" system that we use is a compromise. If you tune perfectly for one chord, then it won't be perfect for the others. As it says at the start of the article that I linked to above:
Many guitarists are frustrated because of their attempts to tune the guitar to pure chords (free of beats). These particular players have very sensitive ears that prefer pure intervals and reject the mandatory equal temperament. They tune their guitar beautifully pure on one chord only to discover that the next chord form is unacceptable. In too many instances they assume that there must be a flaw in the workmanship on the fingerboard. Their problem is not in the construction of the guitar. It is one of pure tuning verses equal temperament.

You must accept this compromise because the guitar is an instrument of fixed pitch and the strings must be tuned to tempered intervals, not pure. Equal temperament is the name given to a system of dividing the chromatic scale into 12 equal half steps. Guitarists who have been trying to tune to one or another pure chord form must learn to understand and accept equal temperament. (They might be interested to know that to approximate pure chords on all forms would require about three dozen frets within the octave.) The system of equal temperament reduces the number to twelve, thereby making manageable all instruments of fixed pitch.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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TRGuitar
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OK, I'm confused ...... I don't think I need Buzz and his system .. "to infinity and beyond!"

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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