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Author Topic: Microtonal Learning & Technical Help for a 36-EDO 40-Fret guitar 6-String Guitar  (Read 6246 times)

Toppscore

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Hi. New member on board. Seems like a good forum for me. Pictured below is my "used-but-new-to-me"
microtonal guitar
which I purchased earlier this month without any manuals or support instructions, etc:

FreeNote 12-Tone Ultra Plus Microtonal Guitar. It has 36 notes per octave and 40 frets.

I'd really appreciate it if anyone or all would chime-in and help me out by answering some
guitar theory/concept questons or maybe some ideas "I don't know to even ask"? Thank you.


1) My FreeNote Microtonal Guitar is a Ultra Plus 12-Tone guitar with 40 Frets and 36 notes per octave.
Please confirm if this is considered a "36 udo" guitar and that I should study "36 udo" theory?
Any idea why the term "12-tone is used in conjuction towards the name of this guitar?

2) Do I study "36 edo" music & music theory for this guitar?
I have two goals: a) to better understand guitar scales for Jazz Blues & Microtonal music play.
b) to improve my guitar fretboad play. c) to better understand music theory.
Are there other "edo"s or theory or "tones" I should study as a beginner besides 36 notes per octave?

3)  What other "edo" units are popular for six string, seven-string & nine string guitars?

"18-EDO is an ideal scale for the first-time refretter, because you can retain all the even-number frets from 12-tET--essentially 1/3 of your work is done for you. The "Father Octatonic" scale maps very simply to a 6-string guitar tuned in "reverse-standard" tuning (tune using four 466.667¢ intervals, with one 533.333¢ interval between the 2nd and 3rd strings), making for a softer learning-curve than EDOs like 14, 16, or 21 (all of which are most evenly open-tuned using a series of sharpened 4ths and a minor or neutral 3rd, and whose scales thus often require position-shifting and/or larger stretches of the hand)."

4) I read about the availability of seven & nine string guitars used in microtonal music.
Are eight-string guitars really an extension of six string guitars by adding one more high string
and one more lower string?  all the while keeping the same "12 edo" tuning?  PLMK. Thank you.

Finally:
6) Since I have the six-string, 40-fret and 36 notes per octave FreeNote Microtonal Stratocaster,
which microtonal theories should I study first and which should I avoid? 
Which books or manuals or instructions guides will be best to start with?

Thank you for your responses. Toppscore

« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 07:32:04 PM by Toppscore »
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Gedankenwelt

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Hi Toppscore, welcome to our forum! :)

1) My FreeNote Microtonal Guitar is a Ultra Plus 12-Tone guitar with 40 Frets and 36 notes per octave.
Please confirm if this is considered a "36 udo" guitar and that I should study "36 udo" theory?
Any idea why the term "12-tone is used in conjuction towards the name of this guitar?

First, let me explain what "EDO" means:
EDO stands for "Equal Division of the Octave". So 12-EDO means the octave is divided into 12 equal parts, 36-EDO means the octave is divided into 36 equal parts, and so on. An octave is the interval between a tone and the next higher tone with the same name. For example, there's an octave between a C and the next higher C, between an E and the next higher E, and so on. If you press down a guitar string at half it's length and pluck it, the note you hear is an octave above the note you hear when you just pluck the open string. On normal guitars, the octave is divided into 12 equal parts, so you have to press it down in the 12th fret to play a note that lies an octave above the open string.

So, normal guitars are 12-EDO, and if you'd triple the amount of frets (effectively inserting a fret at 1/3 and 2/3 between two existing frets), you'd get a 36-EDO guitar.

A 12-Tone Ultra Plus guitar, on the other hand, is based on 12-EDO (hence "12-Tone"), with some frets added at about 2/5, 1/2 or 2/3 between two existing frets (therefore the "Plus"). It's not exactly 36-EDO, but the notes about 2/5 or 2/3 between adjacent 12-EDO frets are close to 36-EDO frets, while the frets about 1/2 between adjacent 12-EDO frets are close to 24-EDO. So, 12-Tone Ultra Plus could be seen as a 12-EDO tuning that adds some notes close to ones from 36-Edo and 24-EDO.

However, while instruments tuned to an EDO tuning allow to modulate freely, 12-Tone Ultra Plus does not share this property. So certain intervals are only available from certain notes, but not from other notes.

2) Do I study "36 edo" music & music theory for this guitar?
I have two goals: a) to better understand guitar scales for Jazz Blues & Microtonal music play.
b) to improve my guitar fretboad play. c) to better understand music theory.
Are there other "edo"s or theory or "tones" I should study as a beginner besides 36 notes per octave?

The first thing you should probably do is to find a suitable notation for fret positions and intervals. I'd suggest something like the following:



...so 0, 1, 2, 3 etc. for standard 12-EDO fret positions, a '-' if the fret is ~1/3 halftone below, a '^' if the fret is ~1/2 halftone above, and a '>' if the fret is ~2/5 halftones above. Of course you can use any symbols you like, this is just an idea.

You can also use this notation for intervals between frets: For example, the interval between 7 and 10- would be 3- halftones. If you use '+', 'v' and '<' for the opposite direction compared to '-', '^' and '>', you could notate the interval between 3- and 7 as 4+ halftones, the interval between 8> and 12 as 4< halftones, and so on.

Now one important feature of the 12-Tone Ultra Plus tuning is that the first 16 overtones are available from some 12-EDO pitches, so it's probably not a bad idea to become familiar with the overtone series. You can play it on your guitar as following (except for the frets in brackets):

Code: [Select]
E|                    12 14 16 17^ 19 (20> 22- 23 24)
B|              12 15-
G|           13
D|        14     
A|     14
E|0 12

Compare these to the guitar harmonics that are produced when the string is plucked while a finger is placed lightly at 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 etc. of the string length. You can also play the overtones 8 to 16 on a single string:

0 2 4 5^ 7 8> 10- 11 12

If you really want to understand microtonal music theory, it might be a good idea to study just intonation, learn to associate intervals with frequency ratios, use harmonic lattices, tonality diamonds, or parts of the overtone or undertone series to build chords or scales. If you find something about 36-EDO, this could be useful too, but it's not exactly the same as 12-Tone Ultra Plus.

3)  What other "edo" units are popular for six string, seven-string & nine string guitars?

"18-EDO is an ideal scale for the first-time refretter, because you can retain all the even-number frets from 12-tET--essentially 1/3 of your work is done for you. The "Father Octatonic" scale maps very simply to a 6-string guitar tuned in "reverse-standard" tuning (tune using four 466.667¢ intervals, with one 533.333¢ interval between the 2nd and 3rd strings), making for a softer learning-curve than EDOs like 14, 16, or 21 (all of which are most evenly open-tuned using a series of sharpened 4ths and a minor or neutral 3rd, and whose scales thus often require position-shifting and/or larger stretches of the hand)."[/code]

I guess most popular would be 12-EDO based tunings like 24- or 36-EDO, or meantone tunings like 19-EDO (1/3 comma MT) or 31-EDO (1/4 comma MT), or other harmonic tunings like 22-, 34- or 41-EDO. I think other interesting tunings are 16-, 23- or 25-EDO (Mavila), 17- or 29-EDO (pythagorean tuning) or 26-EDO (flattone). Well, it just comes down to taste / preference in the end. The best thing is probably to download and install scala, and try out different tunings. ;)

4) I read about the availability of seven & nine string guitars used in microtonal music.
Are eight-string guitars really an extension of six string guitars by adding one more high string
and one more lower string?  all the while keeping the same "12 edo" tuning?  PLMK. Thank you.

You can add a higher and a lower string, or 2 lower strings, or use any arbitrary string tuning. In the case of 2 lower strings I'd recommend a baritone guitar, which has a slightly larger scale length. To be honest, I don't understand your last question, but any microtonal or non-microtonal guitar can have any number of strings, so I'm sure there will be no problem.

Finally:
6) Since I have the six-string, 40-fret and 36 notes per octave FreeNote Microtonal Stratocaster,
which microtonal theories should I study first and which should I avoid? 
Which books or manuals or instructions guides will be best to start with?

See 1st point. I'm not sure about good books; maybe Partch's "Genesis of a Music". The book I personally found most inspiring was "On the Relations of Tone" by Martin Vogel, but it isn't easy to read (especially if you're not used to standard musical notation), and probably a little overkill with its strong focus on the syntonic comma, which is tempered out in 12-Tone Ultra Plus tuning anyway.
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Easy Listening

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Quote from: Toppscore
1) My FreeNote Microtonal Guitar is a Ultra Plus 12-Tone guitar with 40 Frets and 36 notes per octave.
Please confirm if this is considered a "36 udo" guitar and that I should study "36 udo" theory?
Any idea why the term "12-tone is used in conjuction towards the name of this guitar?

This guitar is in fact 12 EDO, "plus." Forget every thought about 36 or any other EDO - these do not apply. If you examine the fretboard on this guitar, every other fret is exactly where it would be on a normal guitar. There is an extra fret between each of these. It is an expansion of the 12 EDO system to give more accurate higher harmonics.

Quote from: Toppscore
2) Do I study "36 edo" music & music theory for this guitar?
I have two goals: a) to better understand guitar scales for Jazz Blues & Microtonal music play.
b) to improve my guitar fretboad play. c) to better understand music theory.
Are there other "edo"s or theory or "tones" I should study as a beginner besides 36 notes per octave?

Again - no. Forget every other EDO. This guitar relates to 12, and to an extent 19 and 31. It has nothing to do with 36.
a) To understand scales, find the ones you know first, maybe
b) Play a lot
c) Talk to people
... other EDOs? I would say yes! But it depends on whom you ask. I've only played 13, 19, and 22. I love all of them. Some musicians despise all EDOs, some are magnetized to them.

Quote from: Toppscore
3)  What other "edo" units are popular for six string, seven-string & nine string guitars?

Anything between 13 and, well, 31 or so. EDOs are also not the only option (as your guitar shows). Whether you build it onto 4 or 9 strings does not really matter. Any number of strings will work for any of them.

Quote from: Toppscore
"18-EDO is an ideal scale for the first-time refretter, because you can retain all the even-number frets from 12-tET--essentially 1/3 of your work is done for you. The "Father Octatonic" scale maps very simply to a 6-string guitar tuned in "reverse-standard" tuning (tune using four 466.667¢ intervals, with one 533.333¢ interval between the 2nd and 3rd strings), making for a softer learning-curve than EDOs like 14, 16, or 21 (all of which are most evenly open-tuned using a series of sharpened 4ths and a minor or neutral 3rd, and whose scales thus often require position-shifting and/or larger stretches of the hand)."

This refers to a project guitar that you remove the frets from but keep the same fretboard - it's just saying that one of three frets are already laid out, so you have less cutting to do. Unless you plan on rebuilding a guitar's frets without removing the fretboard, this does not apply.

Quote from: Toppscore
4) I read about the availability of seven & nine string guitars used in microtonal music.
Are eight-string guitars really an extension of six string guitars by adding one more high string
and one more lower string?  all the while keeping the same "12 edo" tuning?  PLMK. Thank you.

Normal 7, 8, 9 string guitars can be tuned (higher, lower) in various ways, and all are based on 12 EDO, not "microtonal," unless otherwise specified.

Quote from: Toppscore
Finally:
6) Since I have the six-string, 40-fret and 36 notes per octave FreeNote Microtonal Stratocaster,
which microtonal theories should I study first and which should I avoid? 
Which books or manuals or instructions guides will be best to start with?

I don't know about books or manuals, and the kids who are really into this are over my head, but Xenharmonic Alliance is great, and this forum has a couple of super-wizened gurus also who can turn your head into putty.

Personally I have a few of guitars from FreeNote and a few from Sword - http://www.swordguitars.com/ - Sword is the one making 7 strings, 8 strings, any system you can imagine and ask for. FreeNote has a more limited catalog based on very intentional ideas about a particular goal - approaching Just Intonation. Both companies make really good guitars ... I love all of them.
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Toppscore

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Hi Toppscore, welcome to our forum! :) First, let me explain what "EDO" means:

Holy Cow, Batman! -hahaha

Thank you so much for the intro.  I can more easily see the points.  Much appreciated,
All of your comments and instruction are going into my note files. Hope you copied
your post for other "Newbee's".

I plan to begin daily study within a couple of weeks.
This info and many other comments from others have really given me a good perspective.

I'm guessing the Ebay guitar seller incorrectly told me 36 notes per octave
and I just sustained the incorrect accessment.


Question regarding my guitar . . . .
1) Is the "Microtonal 12-Tone Ultra Plus" a common guitar spec for many manufacturers of the guitars? 

2) Is Jon Catler of Freenote the "only reseller" or "one of many sellers" of the Ultra Plus style guitar.

3) Personally at this point, I can more easily apply what I know about my normal Stratocasters
and Telecasters' 12-Tone structure and 21/22 frets to my "40-fret microtonal" "24 edu" guitar. Right?

4) Also, my focus towards applying the microtonal & Just Intonation" theories/techniques towards
Blues and Jazz are more easily done using my Ultra Plus guitar. Right?

Thanks again for you contribution and responses.
Take care. Toppscore



« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 08:49:43 PM by Toppscore »
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Mat

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1. and 2. Only freenote sell the 12TUP system.
3. Correct.
4. 12TUP is ideal for blues and jazz because 7 out of the 12 microtonal frets (the X.7 frets that are 1/3rd of a semitone below frets 1 3 5 7 8 10 12) create the 'septimal just intonation' intervals often used in blues and jazz.
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Toppscore

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1. and 2. Only freenote sell the 12TUP system.
3. Correct.
4. 12TUP is ideal for blues and jazz because 7 out of the 12 microtonal frets (the X.7 frets that are 1/3rd of a semitone below frets 1 3 5 7 8 10 12) create the 'septimal just intonation' intervals often used in blues and jazz.

Mat. Thanks.  Looks like I lucked out buying this particular guitar.
Once I dig in like the "Nestea Plunge", I will have more of a blast working
in microtonal theory with Blues & Jazz.  Then, if I do enjoy the journey,
I can proceed with another guitar and learn more.  Apparently mine is a "12 edo".  Toppscore
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