Play­ing with wob­bly frets



If you were a gui­tarist, which would you pick up to play? Prob­a­bly the one on the top with the straight frets (the thin metal pieces along the fret board that the strings are pressed down onto), right? Well, you might be sur­prised to hear that it's the one at the bot­tom that some lead­ing gui­tarists say makes the best sound. Odd, isn't it?

Ex­pe­ri­enced gui­tar play­ers know that it's ac­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to tune even the best-qual­ity gui­tars to pro­duce per­fect pitch in ev­ery note and chord ev­ery­where along the fret board. This is be­cause of the way that gui­tars have been built for hun­dreds of years.

In typ­i­cal gui­tars, the tra­di­tional straight frets lo­cated along the fret board can't pro­duce per­fect pitch.

This means that even if you tune a gui­tar pre­cisely to sound per­fect in the chord E, it might sound out of tune while play­ing the chord G, or when play­ing the same E for­ma­tion

fur­ther up the fret board. This is true of other chords and notes as well. This is an an­noy­ance that gui­tarists have to deal with and is one of the rea­sons that they of­ten re­tune their gui­tars be­tween songs.

Some gui­tarists tune some strings slightly out of tune in such a way as to strike a happy medium so that no mat­ter what note or chord is played any­where on the fret board, it's close enough to per­fect pitch to sound good over­all. Oth­ers ad­just tun­ing for op­ti­mum pitch for cer­tain chord pat­terns that would sound out of tune for other songs with dif­fer­ing chord pat­terns.

One luthier (gui­tar maker) got so an­noyed by con­stantly strug­gling with this in­her­ent weak­ness in gui­tars that he de­cided to cre­ate a gui­tar that elim­i­nated the prob­lem al­to­gether. The “true tem­per­a­ment gui­tar” with the crooked frets is what he came up with. He ad­justed the frets by mea­sur­ing pre­cisely the po­si­tion where each note has to be fret­ted in or­der to pro­duce per­fect pitch ev­ery­where along the fret board no mat­ter what chord is played. This led to the frets look­ing rather twisted or man­gled. The re­sult, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to users, is a gui­tar that “sings.”

Of what sig­nif­i­cance is this to us? At first glance, it could seem that only ig­no­rance or in­com­pe­tence would pro­duce a gui­tar with such ob­vi­ously mis­shapen frets. And yet the gui­tar pro­duces a strik­ingly more har­mo­nious sound than the so-called proper-look­ing gui­tar. Isn't this so with us? The Bi­ble tells us that what looks right and proper to the nat­u­ral man might not be fit for God's use; in fact, the op­po­site might be true.

With all our weak­nesses and faults, we might feel im­per­fect and twisted like the frets of the true tem­per­a­ment gui­tar; but in the hands of the Master Mu­si­cian, we can make beau­ti­ful melodies for Him. When we be­lieve our­selves to be good and “straight” in our own right­eous­ness, like nor­mal gui­tars with their per­fectly straight yet im­per­fect frets, our sound can ac­tu­ally be­come slightly out of har­mony and dis­so­nant, re­sult­ing in a less at­trac­tive melody.

God al­lows us to be as im­per­fect as we are for a pur­pose, so that we are more use­ful to help those around us, and He gets the glory for our har­mony with His tune.

The Lord does not look at the things peo­ple look at. Peo­ple look at the out­ward ap­pear­ance, but the Lord looks at the heart.— 1 Sa­muel 16:7 NIV “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord.— Zechariah 4:6 The fool­ish­ness of God is wiser than hu­man wis­dom, and the weak­ness of God is stronger than hu­man strength. Broth­ers and sis­ters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by hu­man stan­dards; not many were in­flu­en­tial; not many were of no­ble birth. But God chose the fool­ish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the de­spised things—and the things that are not—to nul­lify the things that are, so that no one may boast be­fore him.— 1 Corinthi­ans 1:25–29 NIV We now have this light shin­ing in our hearts, but we our­selves are like frag­ile clay jars con­tain­ing this great trea­sure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from our­selves.— 2 Corinthi­ans 4:7 NLT

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