I committed stringed-instrument heresy this morning!

Let’s not forget: John Cage was modifying pianos and so forth (using screws, bolts, weather stripping, cutlery…) nearly 100 years ago:

Historically, you definitely can. The old viol family was fretted and tuned in 4ths; the violin family, with no frets and tuned in 5ths, was the peasant substitute. But musicians discovered that fretless instruments were more agile, and the viol family almost entirely vanished. (The double bass, of course, continues to be tuned in 4ths for finger-stretch reasons, which is probably why some people still call it a “bass viol”.)

Meet the arpeggione !

When I started learning the cello, my teacher put adhesive markers on the fingerboard, 1st and 4th position if I remember correctly.

There are some stringed instruments that have movable frets. The one I’m remembering was plucked rather than bowed and had a very loooooong skinny neck. A bit like a banjo in sound and appearance. So you can play scales that have quarter-tones built in. Mostly from far-off places and I can’t remember what they’re called.

Actually… there are also microtonal guitars with similar concept. Thanks, Google.

So no, you didn’t commit heresy.

The sitar, for example.

I think you did a fine job. But I’m confused about why the mathematically-calculated positions would go sharp as you went closer to the bridge. Shouldn’t the length of the string vs. its pitch be a constant?

Look at the two photos I posted and compare the string-to-fretboard distance at the nut and then at the octave.

When you fret a note near the nut, the string sits perhaps 1/16" above the fingerboard, so the string has to stretch very little when fretted. The distance between the fingerboard and the string increases significantly the closer you get to the bridge. When you fret a note closer to the bridge, the string is now sitting 3/8" above the fingerboard, so when you press it to the fingerboard it stretches substantially more.

Is there any reason why that is so ?
It does appear to be a feature of double basses (my brother used to play one).
A bass guitar would normally try to keep the string to fretboard
distance constant.

Not sure–I’m an electric bassist, so like you, I also am more familiar with the standard guitar / bass setup.

One thing to note: the difference between double bass strings and electric bass strings is impressive, substantially more than the difference between electric bass strings and electric guitar strings.

Those things really are bridge cables, and they flop around quite a bit at the octave–that’s possibly why the fingerboard distance increases.

Could be …
I can’t find any explanations on-line.
Maybe you could experiment with a cheap bridge - sand down the feet
and report back !

Hey, if it works, it’s not wrong.

I’m a fan of traditional things because they’ve stood the test of time, but I’m equally a fan of mashing things up in ways nobody’s ever tried before.

Having said that, what’s the definition of a minor second?

Fretless bases playing in unison, yuk yuk yuk.

Thought you should see this - a screen capture of Tony Levin from “In the Court of the Crimson King”. Note the dots on his fingerboard… :smiley:

Oops, nope - I can’t post a photo… Trust me, they’re there!