I went into True Temperament\Paul Guy Guitars shop\Workshop in Stockholm this afteroon and met Anders Thidell the inventor of the True Temperament Fretting System, I was there for over an hour and had the opportunity to try out 3 instruments.
The first instrument I tried was Anders personal Stratocaster fretted to his own customised personal temperament
the second another Strat fitted with the standard true temperament, and the third was a beautiful custom made acoustic made by a Swedish Luthier and friend of Anders’ fitted with one of Anders’ own Necks again with the standard true temperament.
The two strats I played through a Fender Champ Vibratone there was a beautiful Fender Showman Valve Amp there with a 4 x 10 cabinet but I used the Champ with all of the effects turned off with the Bass on about 4-5 and the treble on about 6 a really clean tone most of the time. I had a little play on the driven channel with a little gain and whacked a few power chords just to see what it was like, it was fun and the chords rang out clearly and sounded extra heavy the temperament tuned to fifths which I didn’t try would I think really hit home ( just as it says on the tin).
Firstly the look of the guitars particularly the ones with the True temperament do not strike you as looking particularly
odd their advertising strap line is “Looks Organic Sounds Divine” and that about sums it up. The look of the neck is very pleasing to my own eye and I was suprised to find that the feel of the neck was just the same as any of my other Guitars, along the fingerboard. I have a Byrdland with a short scale and thin Mandolin Neck and that feels a whole lot different and also the one time I ever played an Explorer that felt a whole lot different to my other guitars and I have a range of necks on my guitars at home from a classic 50’s style Les Paul neck on my 74 standard to the thinner neck of my 64 330 and the very different chunky neck of my Master Salute Strat that has Jumbo Fretts.
The two Strats I played felt very comfortable I played a couple of big stretched chords a G# at the 8th frett, thats the c shape barre chord on the 5th string, which is the start chord for the bridge to you aint seen nothin yet by BTO ( the version I play anyhow. and also a descending fingerpicked arpeggio on the C#minor#5, Ano5add2,Ano5\B
Which is the start of the outro to Babe I’m gonna leave ya by led zep the way that Jimmi Page plays it I believe.
These Chords are quite demanding of any guitars set up and also have some interesting intervals, I use them in my practice routine almost every day for finger stregnth work so I am quite familiar with how they sound on my other Guitars which is why I used them today. I could hear the difference as compared to my other guitars all of which have been set up by the Bailey Brothers who are Bristols best known( most Highly regarded) guitar techs so they are very well set up, As Anders runs a guitar set up business as well as the Fretting System company all of the guitars I played today were very nicely set up as well but the difference was discernable to my Ear which I have to stress is not the most sensitive you will ever encounter.
I also played regular Major and Minor scales both Full and pentatonic I played through Dominic Millers arrangement of Fields of Gold ( the Sting Version) and also Wild World by Cat Stevens, again old faithfull favourite tunes of mine and the sound again was just clearer, more in tune.
I found that I adjusted my hand angle slightly for barreing full Barre Chords a very small adjustment I found I had to make to keep from snagging the frett on the narrower points, this was not nearly as much of an adjustment I make to play my Byrdland which I got used to in about 5 minutes after I had it, the Explorer which I played for about an Hour back in August I just couldn’t get the Hang of.In short there is not much to get used to with these fretts just the crystal clear intonation.
On the acoustic I messed about with a d#Maj7 chord at the 6th fret with the root on the fifth string which is one of my favourite chords along with a Cadd9 in the open position both chords sounded even more beautiful than normal. I also ran the open a7 shape up the whole fret board which the guy with the pork pie hat from Rock on Good people shows in a lesson on you tube which is a good test of intonation on any guitar again the guitar tone was clear and bell like all the way up the neck, in fact nothing short of spectacularly so.
In case you haven’t gathered by now I am absolutely convinced that this system works it is a worthwhile expense for a great improvement in the overall intonation of any guitar, I see very little downside. Just cost really, and its not super expensive for such a huge improvement. WHen I order my custom guitars in future I will definitely be specifying this fretting System. I wouldn’t convert my Vintage instruments but I wouldn’t change the nuts or any of the original specs on those either. If I ever convince Gibson to Make me a 12 string Byrdland I will definitely have the neck modified to this system or ask them to send the blank Neck to Anders before it is fitted to the body.
I had a close look at the Mean tone Blues guitar but didn’t play it that does have addtional drawbacks in that there are a couple of extra frets and at these positions the fretts are radically different and the chord shapes you play have to be different due to the additional fretts adding two extra semitones, I don’t think it would be any more difficult than learning different chord shapes for alternative open tunings but for the additional clarity on those bluesey keys it might be worth it for some for me the Standard Even Temperament system is an all round improvement the Meantone for me personally would be a bridge to far ( no pun intended, Sorry Matt)
All in all it was an exciting and rewarding trip I’m glad I made the effort and I will be ordering these necks for my future Guitars.
If you get the chance to try one do If I can hear the difference and appreciate it then anyone with an intermediate grasp of the instrument would I think be impressed given the time to explore the range of the properties endowed on instruments fitted with this system. A great experience and Anders is a very cool guy a real gent.
Roger G Lewis Written in October 2010.