Looking for info on Novax guitars

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Stephen Landry, Mar 5, 2006.


  1. Stephen Landry

    Stephen Landry Member

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    I've had a recurring interest in the fanned fret concept for years now. I checked out the past threads on Novax guitars and fanned frets in general, but was looking to see what other info was out there. Is the intonation better than with a regular guitar? Does the tension feel more even across the strings? Is it, as someone in a past thread said, harder to chord, or to play higher up the neck? Do fanned fret guitars have a different tonal "vibe"?

    What about Novax guitars in general? Are they well built, etc? The designs are a little odd compared to tradition - how do they feel, sound, etc? I'm really drawn to the semihollow expression (mahogany w/ spruce top), maybe with the extended range neck.

    Thanks in advance for any info you can give?
     
  2. Stephen Landry

    Stephen Landry Member

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    Gonna bump this once just in case anyone has some comments, or even just some comments related to my questions about fanned frets in general.

    Thanks!
     
  3. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    I bought a replacement neck and built a "Tele" (now my only guitar) around it. I think the necks are a little expensive, but I loved the results so much I sold my other single-scale instruments. For me, it's not an intonation issue, but a huge increase in what I percieve to be clarity. Note seperation is heightened and close intervals sound much more distinct. All this is anecdotal. I have no way to quantify my impressions.

    I've played a CH, and thought it was very well built. I could not find any obvious flaws, but I didn't own the instrument. Ralph and Bill are customer oriented. They've helped me many times with neck installation questions, and they've been quick with quotes. I wouldn't hesitate to have Ralph build a custom instrument for me. My only hold up is Saul Koll. He does great work as well and is quite a bit less expensive. I've narrowed it down to these two for my 7-string. Stupid dilemas.

    Call Ralph or Bill. They're busy, but they truly do want you to be happy and get EXACTLY what you want.

    SE
     
  4. Strung Up

    Strung Up Member

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    I can't answer all of your questions, as I only played one unplugged several years ago, but I can say that they're EXTREMELY well-built. Definite a cut above 'regional' builder quality with regards to woods, fit, finish. No visible flaws or fixed mistakes. Don't recall tension, intonation was good to excellent, chording was, if anything, easier than the 25.5" scale that I have on everything. The mixed scale length definitely seemed to solve the problem of getting non-flubby bass register without getting strident upper register for 'jazzy' chords.
    At the time, the kicker for me was that if you bent notes below a certain position on the neck by pushing towards the bass side, the note goes flat instead of sharp. Too much for my little pea-brain at the time.
     
  5. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    I haven't noticed the upper register notes going flat on bends. I'll check and see if my guit does it. The angle of the frets is much less severe down there though. I'll report back.
     
  6. Strung Up

    Strung Up Member

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    LOWER register notes go flat when you bend by pushing towards the bass side.
     
  7. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    I haven't noticed it on either end of the neck while pushing up. I'm not doubting your experience, just relaying mine.
     
  8. Stephen Landry

    Stephen Landry Member

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    Thanks for the info. Is bending or jazz chording "weird" or more difficult on a fanned fret guitar? I guess one of my concerns is whether any techniques or anything like that are more difficult or unusable . . . do things get cramped up top?
     
  9. Strung Up

    Strung Up Member

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    Pitch is a function of string mass, tension, and length.
    Way smarter minds than I have the exact formulae and variations for this as it applies to stringed instruments. (Charles Tauber, for one, if I recall.)

    Mass stays the same.
    Bending on a regular fret guitar changes tension, and string length is only slightly longer.
    On lower register positions on a fanned fret guitar, if you're bending towards the bass side, you're bending into a longer scale length, and thereby increasing the string length. Look at a Novax, and you get the idea.

    There's probably some string guages (=mass in the above) where this has no or minimal effect, but on the guitar I played, I bent a C on the G string 5th fret towards the low E string, and the pitch went down.
     
  10. Sam Evans

    Sam Evans Compliance Officer Gold Supporting Member

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    Seems logical, Strung Up. Maybe the increased tension is able to overcome the increase in scale length enough to get you into the needed pitch.
     
  11. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    I bought a Novax-necked Klein Electric a couple of years ago¬ómostly because at under $2K Canadian it seemed like a huge bargain, and I do like a deal. At the time, I thought the fanned frets might trip me up, but it took virtually no time to adjust to them and I've come to love the way the guitar sounds more in tune than almost anything else I've played. The idea of having more tension on the bass strings and less on the treble also works for me¬óespecially as I use a few slack-key-style tunings. The low E goes down to C quite comfortably.

    I've played a couple of non-Klein Novax guitars and noticed the same thing with them...definitely worth checking out if you're after better intonation and a more "open" sound.
     
  12. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    While the idea of string the Novax more similarly to a piano is appealing, other options exist for guitar such as the Feiten system and the newer Earvana yielding similar results in pitch correction.

    I have owned two Novax guitars, both were built very well. If you look at your left hand it will play trick on your brain.

    Ultimately the benefit of the fanned frets is the merging of a Fender and Gibson scale length if you so desire. Ralph wanted tension and response of the lower strings of a Fender's 25.5" scale length and the lower tension of the higher three strings similar to a Gibson's 24.75" scale length. Of course a PRS basically solves the same issue at 25" scale length.

    In a nutshell, the low E and A strings sound very Fendery. The D and the G sound PRSish. And the B and high E sound Gibson like. If that is your idea of perfect tone, it's available.

    If you just seek better intonation, buy an Earvana nut for $40.00.

    Of course you can alter your tensions similarly by simply altering string gauges, buying a bottom heavy set that instead of being 10~46 is 10~54.
     
  13. Stephen Landry

    Stephen Landry Member

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    Hey Luke -

    You hit on what I consider one of the perceived benefits of the Novax - what I would think would be a more even tension across the strings. Every single scale guitar I've played (Fender, Gibson, PRS, etc.) feels very uneven from top to bottom, and that floppy low end drives me nuts.

    And yeah, you can taylor that with custom string guages, but sometimes that messes with your tone if you're not careful. And that doesn't get you a new guitar, now does it :)
     
  14. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Hey Justin, did you find it on ebay, or did you get it from Novax, ...or elsewhere?

    Thanks!

    Dave
     

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