Remember back in January when we posted a picture of the new .strandberg* 8 string multiscale (fanned fret) True Temperament guitar and you all LOST YOUR FUCKING MINDS? Well, between then and now, I was fortunate to play that very guitar at NAMM, and meet its owner, a certain Mr. Allan Marcus, a very knowledgeable and friendly dude who, as it turns out, is also a monster guitarist. His band Arecibo recently released their debut EP Lost in Consciousness, a gnarly prog-death epic well worth the $4 they are asking.
So, you must be curious – what’s it actually like to play a guitar like that? Here’s my take on it – although I only got to play it for maybe 10 minutes, I think I got a pretty good idea of what the challenges and advantages were. The multiscale aspect was a far larger challenge than the True Temperament, and although the drunkenness of the “squiggly wiggly” frets (as Per Nilsson dubbed them in this awesome video) didn’t help the ease of playing, I don’t think it really hindered it either. The trouble I encountered with the multiscale was that (especially with the higher frets) when looking down at the fretboard, a fret will start at a certain place on the bass side, and end an inch or more away to the left on the treble. Now, like anything else on any other instrument ever since the dawn of time, I think it would really only take like a week to get used to it, so don’t get your panties in a bunch (again).
As for the True Temperament, the thing that people are generally most concerned about is whether or not you can do linear bends, since the frets aren’t straight. Let me answer this once and for all: YES! Keep in mind that each dip and wiggle only adjusts the intonation by a few cents in either direction, and your ear can’t detect the difference in how fast the pitch changes when you bend the string. Also, when you bend a string, you’re intonating the pitch by ear anyway, so the amount you bend would just be adjusted as you go anyway. So, hell, sign me up. One please.
So what does it sound like when a skilled guitarist plays such a monstrosity? Oh, the kind people at EMG TV have filmed the aforementioned Mr. Marcus playing one of the aforementioned Arecibo tunes I mentioned before. Would you look at that.