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Reply with quote  #1 
Jeff raised something in another thread and we thought it might be good to have a separate place to talk about different aspects of instrument design ... for builders and players alike.

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Very good workmanship and style, also I see some very innovative design around the nut and headstock. I know that's not what you posted about but maybe on a seperate thread you could share your insights that lead you to that design. 


I have been building and repairing acoustic and electric instruments for over 20 years now. There was a period several years ago in which I was thinking about and playing more touchstyle/tapping and trying out various things until I decided that I would make myself the ultimate tapper!! There was a lot of toing and froing and humming and haaing, and not a lot of progress until I applied a few self-imposed limitations ... and let go of such lofty aspirations!

Those boundaries were basically these things ... keep it as simple as possible, don't sacrifice quality (of sound or workmanship), and don't try to reinvent the wheel. 

These things led to the classic tapered uninterrupted lines of our instruments, the use of stock hardware and strings, and the design of some subtle innovations to make it all work well. I guess thats where our different way of dealing with string action and the whole nut/damper/headstock thing came in. I love it ... its so simple its laughable, and even though it goes against all those years of perfecting angled headstocks it really doesn't affect performance for this type of instrument. Admittedly it doesn't have the level of fine control that other nut-based designs have, but then again, who needs it?

For those who don't know what we're talking about I'll post a couple of photos. It would be great to hear about other design aspects, decisions and challenges that people have come across.  

  
Headstock_opt.jpg  Headstock2_opt.jpg    



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Jtmart

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Thanks for posting! I love seeing how people approach design. It looks like you have at least some upward pressure on the nut, I'm guessing that the action is adjustable at the nut? I know you said that you didn't reinvent the wheel but that design is very clever because you flipped convention on its head.

Here's a question, with the use of a zero fret, is the nut placement no longer critical for the intonation or since there are no open string is it not important?

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Thanks Jeff. You're quite right, the placement of the retainer bar (we can't really call it a nut) isn't critical for intonation ... in fact the damper plays a more crucial role in the sound of the 'open' strings, acting as a very diffuse sort of nut. We actually place it so that the dampened open notes are a semitone below the zero fret which allows the player to also use the 'open' sounds too.

Action at the zero fret (and conveniently pressure on the damper also) is simply adjusted by the retainer bar height screws. By carefully winding the strings up the tuner post (rather than down) we get around a 10 degree reverse breakover angle at the retainer bar. A bit more would be better, but it still gives good upward pressure.  

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I found, in my experimentations with the Tapladder, ca. 2005-2006, that the zero fret needed to be just a tiny bit higher than the other frets. I found a thin aluminum tube whose inner diameter was the same as the outer diameter of the zero fret (and the rest of the frets), and added just the right amount of extra lift, when applied to the zero fret. 

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I found, in my experimentations with the Tapladder, ca. 2005-2006, that the zero fret needed to be just a tiny bit higher than the other frets. I found a thin aluminum tube whose inner diameter was the same as the outer diameter of the zero fret (and the rest of the frets), and added just the right amount of extra lift, when applied to the zero fret.


I'm a bit intrigued by this ... I can understand why it wouldn't hurt, but I don't understand why it was necessary.

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Jtmart

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Is Tapladders zero fret in contact with the strings at all times and is it mostly to set the action? On some guitars all the nut does is serve to properly space the strings and the zero fret sets the action. If his instrument is set up that way I could see that a tiny bit more height might prevent the heavier strings from rattling. I'm curious too as to why it needs to be a bit higher.
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Originally Posted by Jtmart
If his instrument is set up that way I could see that a tiny bit more height might prevent the heavier strings from rattling.


Yes, that is part of it.  Also, if the zero fret is a tiny bit higher than the other frets, it also made tapping at the first couple frets a bit easier. 
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