Other Guitars

New H-MS-FF-8S GOD Day

1

For going low, what's better than a baritone guitar? For going even lower, what's better than a 6-string bass? For keeping the entire range of the guitar while going low, what's better than a double-necked guitar?

What's better than wondering what scale your baritone and 6-string basses ought to be?

If you've patiently accrued for years the evidence of mirror, medication, and mobility - and finally concluded that you aren't getting younger - what's better than the continual nag of curiosity frustrated by endless deferral?

What's better than being stuck unchallenged in a groove, playing the same old stuff the same old way on the same old instruments - and somehow expecting different results?

2

I don't know the solutions to any of these portentous puzzles - but I apparently hope it's a Headless Multi-Scale Fanned-Fret 8-String guitar, newly ordered today for estimated arrival in September.

The name - Agile Chiral Parallax 82528 - would just have a hard time getting science-sexier to me. The color looks just right for a deep end dive into adventure. And the shape - at least in pictures - deftly suspends in that multi-dimensional superposition of beauty and grotesquerie which is reliably fascinating to me.

With the exception of the detail of the cutaways (whatever you might think of them), could the form of an instrument more elegantly hew to its function? Somehow this thing manages to be both extravagant and minimalist.

3

That the eye-boggling width of the neck, the desperately disparate shapes and depths of the cutaways, and the vertigo induced by the lopsided fret fanning produce the visual dynamism of a funhouse mirror is just a bonus. (And I used to think Mosrites looked crookedly unbalanced.)

Always hoping for something new under the sun, I remain

Your correspondent,

Etc etc

4

PS: Did I mention it weighs less than 6 lbs?

5

Two more strings and you'd have a Chapman Stick.

6

I think contrapuntal tapping would be an adventure too far - like trying to learn violin or pedal steel at the age of diminishing cerebral plasticity. Also, I may not have the 10,000 hours to spare.

I was lucky enough to watch Emmett play the Stick for hours at a NAMM show, and no one - no one - has gotten out of the Stick what he did. It seems to have sprung from his mind to play music that wouldn't have gotten out any other way.

7

I’ve got a headache.

8

I think contrapuntal tapping would be an adventure too far - like trying to learn violin or pedal steel at the age of diminishing cerebral plasticity. Also, I may not have the 10,000 hours to spare.

I was lucky enough to watch Emmett play the Stick for hours at a NAMM show, and no one - no one - has gotten out of the Stick what he did. It seems to have sprung from his mind to play music that wouldn't have gotten out any other way.

– Proteus

I got to see Emmet play at the Bluebird in Bloomington on a sweaty hot Sunday afternoon when he first brought the Stick out on the market, decades ago. He was having some issues with amps or cables or somesuch. One yahoo yelled out something about hurrying it up. Emmet hit a massive chord. The heavens opened, angels trumpeted.

He said, "Give me a minute. I'm having some gear trouble."

The audience figured if he was having troubles, and it sounded like that, they'd happily wait. It was well worth the wait.

9

I’ve got a headache.

– NJBob

Right? I was thinking the same.

10

I like to think I'm pretty open minded - but that many strings is boggling. I can barely handle 6! (or 4 even!)

12

So you bought an 8-string! They are fun to play (I've played a few). If you want ideas for clean 8-string playing listen to jazz players (there are a few 8-string jazzers). Some video food for thought for you:

13

Be careful, you'll put your eye out with that upper bout. I used to think fan-fret guitars would be impossible (for me, anyway) to play, but the one or two I've tried were remarkably playable. Of course, they only had 6 strings. I guess you won't be quite so tempted to swap pickups in this one, and as long as you wear eye protection while playing it, it will probably be a lot of fun.

Looking forward to demo videos on this one, Congratulations in advance.

14

as long as you wear eye protection

Well, and maybe ear protection. Since I'm only permitted to play through headphones anyway, how will that work? Earplugs, then headphones?


And thanks, Baba-Ellen-Frank for the congrats. Sometimes the GDP is receptive to non-conventional and aesthetically deviant guitars (especially if they were made in the 50s and 60s)...other times? Well, I know this isn't the venue for this guitar.

(Also, whatever it is you think 8-string guitars do... is unlikely to be what I do with it.)

I realize now that showing it around here was kinda like having a really ugly, misshapen baby and expecting people to fawn and coo over it.

It's all in the way of an experiment. We'll see.

15

What's your feelings on the fan-fret design? Makes it easier or better intonated or ??? How long to adjust to finger placement?

16

What's your feelings on the fan-fret design? Makes it easier or better intonated or ??? How long to adjust to finger placement?

– NJBob

Fan fret guitars became a big thing in the extended range guitar community starting about 6 or 7 years ago. I remember when everybody oohed and ahhed about then on the 7 String Guitar Forum (which also includes 8 string and more guitars in the Extended Range Guitars subforum). The reason for fanned fret guitars becoming more common in recent times, is due to issues of intonation, playing feel, and sound vs scale length.

Longer scale lengths (26.5" and more) give better string tension and playing feel for the lower strings, without having to resort to overly heavy strings (which can have intonation issues on shorter scale guitars) - especially if playing with drop/lower pitched than standard tunings. Unfortunately, this can cause issues on the higher strings, due to them having to be tuned tighter in order to reach proper pitch. The higher strings wind up feeling stiffer, and from my experience with a 26.5" scale Schecter Omen Extreme 7 I used to have (a nice guitar - too bad I was broke at the time, I might have hung onto it), they often sounded kind of screechy in the higher registers (it used to drive me crazy at times, when I was playing above the 12th fret).

Fan fret guitars deal with the scale length issue, but being multi-scale, due to their angled frets and nut. As a result, the scale length varies (going from from high to low strings) from typically 25.5" to as much as 27" across the neck of the guitars. You wind up with string tension that is more even, and better feeling across the neck of the guitar, while maintaining decent intonation. There is also a lesser side benefit for fanned frets - if you play classical guitar style, with the neck angled, the frets feel more naturally placed for your fretting hand (actually some of the earliest fanned fret guitars, were for the classical guitar community).

17

Agile has a fairly deep and wide selection of 7, 8, 9, and even 10-string guitars, most of the higher-string-count examples with fanned frets and multi-scale, some of the 7-string fixed-scale and conventional.

The model-numbering system which goes along with Agile's product names makes it easy to work out how any particular guitar is configured, without even having to look at the specs. The one I've ordered is 82528, which decodes to 8 strings, 25"-to-28" scale.

Baritone guitars seem to range from 26.5" to nearly 30", a range which crosses into short-scale bass territory. I have 29" and 27.5" scale baritones, and while both are tuned to B, they feel different to play - both in string tension and in finger reach. (The longer scale is also a little snappier/punchier in tone, but not dramatically so.) I also have the Squier Bass VI, at 30", tuned to E. It needed fatter strings than the instrument ships with to prevent the low E from being too flappy.

We all know different scale lengths feel different under hand, some of us intolerant of even the difference between the most common 24.75" (24.6" in Gretschland) and 25.5". We all know the adjustments we have to make when moving from guitar to bass. Baritones fall in the middle of that range, with "feel" perfectly predictable based on scale.

The intention of the multi-scale design (and the fanned frets that facilitate it) is not only to keep the instrument in proper intonation over a wider range of string diameters, but to give each string more or less the tone it would have on its appropriate fixed-scale instrument.

So, for both playability and tone, this Agile starts at 25" scale for the highest strings, then transitions gradually to 28" for the lowest. That 3" difference, across 7 string steps, works out to .43" longer scale for each successive string from 1-8. (Rounding to nearest hundredth.) Here's the resulting scale for each:

1: 25
2: 25.43
3: 25.86
4: 26.29
5: 26.72
6: 27.15
7: 27.58
8: 28.01

So the high E has exactly the scale of a PRS (which I'm trying to forgive it for), and passes through the Fender range on the B & G strings. By the 6 (low E), it's in short-baritone range, and by the 8th string, it nears long-baritone range. (The 7 is usually tuned to the B below E, and the 8 sometimes to F# below that - but for easier chord thinking, I'll probably take it to a bass E.)

I haven't studied how other multi-scale/fanned-fret guitars are laid out, but clearly they could start with a shorter scale than this - and finish with a longer one. (All of which would make the fret fan more extreme.)

This 25"-28" range over 8 strings seemed like an ideal way to see if this design (beautifully logical in concept) is something I can adapt to and make use of. Everyone who's played a fanned-fretter agrees that it feels much less alien than it looks, and that in fact it suits the natural ergonomics of the hand.

I also think the tone will transition naturally from guitar to bari-almost-bass - and not just naturally, but interestingly. Using two separate instruments for guitar range and bari/bass range, with their locked-in scale lengths, the same note played on both has a very different timbre. This more pianistic design - where every string has its own length - promises a smooth transition through timbres as well as pitch.

We'll see how all that plays out.

I've had nothing but the best of experiences with Agile guitars - with anything from Rondo. This guitar prices in the upper range of Rondo products; based on the value-for-dollar ratio Rondo generally delviers, I'm expecting this Korean-made instrument to be pretty durn good in terms of material, quality, fit and finish, and playability - probably in the ballpark with Electomatics, Reverends, and the occasional better Eastwood.

And even with all that, it's pretty modestly priced, making it an ideal entré to the extended-range multi-scale domain. I was also conscious to get the version with passive pickups, not the active variety I know are favored by metalheads. (Which is not at all where I'm going with this.)

18

Congratulations on your new journey, Tim, I hope you have a great time with it. I've yet to play even a seven string guitar, but I would be open to the prospect. The closest I've come is a ten string Chapman Stick, that my brother David owns. I've seen guys playing them, and watch a lot of videos on them, but I haven't been able to catch on to playing one. If I were to borrow it for an extended period, and take some YouTube tutorials, I would probably have better luck with it.

I've been very intrigued by the fanned fret guitars, and I have pulled a couple of them off the wall at GC. They look intimidating, but feel great, and really do seem to fit the hand better than traditional perpendicular frets.

My hats off to you for having the gumption to explore something outside of the box.

19

Tim, you're right about the "venturing towards bass territory" appeal of 8 string and more guitars. If Ernie Ball made Cobalt string sets for 8 string guitars (and better yet, 9 string guitars). I would seriously consider getting one for that reason - especially after seeing Rob Scallon mix elements of both bass and guitar playing with a Schecter 9 string guitar in his "Torque Soul" video on YouTube.

20

Nice Tim!!! I am both intrigued and terrified by it but congratulations because I think if you can play this, then your comfort level will expand quite rapidly on it and it will translate to a bucket load of guitar playing fun.

Of course if you drop acid, and then look at while thinking of Joe Walsh's face during one his string bending excursions, you really might be in for a very long strange trip!

BUT.......minus the LSD and odd visions of Joe, I think this is really cool and can't wait to hear your first (and many more thereafter) thoughts of it.

Congrats!!!!

21

Thanks, Tim. “Pianistic” makes sense and I hadn’t even considered optimal string length as one of the benefits. With that and the ergonomic pluses, I’m thinking I should try the fan-fret.

22

Congrats, Tim, hope it turns out to be even more than what you're hoping for. I, myself, picked up an Oceanburst finish Agile just the other day, albeit used (though mint), and in a somewhat more traditional vein...

Open pic in a new tab to embiggen!

23

My Agile Lesspoll (cherry mahogany all over, no maple cap) is a wonderful guitar. I’ve had it for years, and it remains a joy every time I pick it up.

Your oceanburst is gorgeous. That’s a hard color combo to get right, and Agile nailed it on that one. At a used price, it has to have been a steal. I doubt I would have been able to resist!

Hope you’re enjoying it.

24

Congrats bud! But youse can keep the damn thing coz no way in heck that my capo will fit on it.

And a real man’ll play slide on it.


Register Sign in to join the conversation