Chromatic vs. Diatonic fretboards

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Chromatic vs. Diatonic fretboards

Postby fr.andrew » Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:50 am

Hello, again!

I'm pondering a purchase for the future, probably many months from now, to "graduate" out of my Apple Creek (which has served remarkably well within its limitations), and I'm thinking about getting a custom job from Folkcraft.

One of the options I'm considering is getting a fully chromatic fretboard. I'm wondering if anyone here has experience in playing one and how it compares with the standard diatonic. How easy is it to adapt back and forth? Do you ever feel like the "extra" frets get in the way?

Thanks!
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Postby mrchips » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:59 pm

For the same insterment (dulcimer asumed) the practle difference betwen diationic and chromatic fretting boils down to just this.

On the diationic fretting (no half frets) you have just the frets you need for a given key. The up side is theres less frets to wory with but the down side is you either have to reune or capo to play in a key diferent than the current open tuning.

On a chromatic there is no need to retune to go to another key. Its just a matter of different finger locations. You can also capo at some fret and play the same finger positions for another key. Its also possible to use argumented and diminished chords that are generally not possible on a diationic fretboard. The downside is you have all possible notes, even the ones NOT in the key you are currently playing in. That makes it possible to hit notes that are not in a given key.

I have a pair of 3 string strumstick type things I made a while back. Both are identical in every way except one has the standard diationic fretting, including the half ones. The other is fully chromatic. For me it gets confusing jumping back and forth so I generally stay with the chromatic one if Im not beating the crap outta HD. :lol: :lol: :lol:

The half frets, if you have them, are sort of a compromise between chromatic and diationic fretting. The above is a general thing but laike anything else with dulcimers, ask 10 people the same question and youre likely to get 20 answers. :lol: :lol:
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Postby KenH » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:34 pm

If you play Finger Dance or Chord-Melody Style where your fingers are picked up between played notes, the chromatic fretboard should not too big of a problem getting used to. However, YMMV.

If you play Noter & Drone style on a chromatic fretboard, you get a LOT of extra 'clunks and bumps' between the frets you want, as your noter passes over intervening frets you don't want. I find it very disconcerting to play N&D style on a chromatic fretboard.

If you do go for a chromatic fretboard, you'll probably want fretboard markers installed to show you the diatonic frets.

I think Mr Chips gave you a pretty good summary of the other positives and negatives of the two types of fretboard.
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Postby southernmiss » Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:49 pm

Is the VSL the same for chromatic as for diatonic? I'm assuming that it is and the difference is that all the frets are the same size in the chromatic.

Lee
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Postby mike1952 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:54 pm

"If you play Noter & Drone style on a chromatic fretboard, you get a LOT of extra 'clunks and bumps' between the frets you want, as your noter passes over intervening frets you don't want. I find it very disconcerting to play N&D style on a chromatic fretboard. "

Huh??
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Postby mrchips » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:40 pm

VSL has no direct bearing on wether an insterment is chromatic or diationic. In a nutshell, all it is is the distance from the nut to the bridge irregardless of the fretting.

For many, switching between 2 insterments with a different VSL can be difficult as the frets on one or he other will actually "feel" like theyre spaced wrong even though they are in the correct places. The fret spacing changes for different VSLs.

The diationic markers on a chromatic is a good idea. I almost always do it, either on the fretboard or on the side of the neck. Next one I make im going to put the dots on the fretboard right next to the fret instead of in the dead center between the frets. Friend pointed out the center ones look like standard guitar markings in the wrong place. :lol: :lol:
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Re: ,

Postby Judy K » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:48 am

mike1952 wrote:"If you play Noter & Drone style on a chromatic fretboard, you get a LOT of extra 'clunks and bumps' between the frets you want, as your noter passes over intervening frets you don't want. I find it very disconcerting to play N&D style on a chromatic fretboard. "

Huh??


I don't play N&D style, but it's pretty self-explanatory. A chromatic fretboard has more frets than a diatonic one. A noter makes a noise as it passes over each fret. Therefore, you get a "extra clunks and bumps" on a chromatic fretboard as compared to a diatonic.

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Father Andrew, I have one dulcimer with extra frets (while not completely chromatic) and a couple of dulcimers with the normal diatonic fretboard (includes 6+ fret). It only takes a few minutes to adjust my fingers and my thinking when switching between the dulcimers.
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Postby dingoII » Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:36 am

The dulcimers I play a 100% of the time have 1,6 & 81/2 Frets, I use them often, I do not have any problems with these 3 added half steps, I have a worse time playing without them.
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