As scalloped fretboards are very uncommon and have a unique look, it draws a lot of curiosity from the guitarists. Many people who aren’t even aspiring to play the guitar are often intrigued by its unique look. The main reason for such curiosity and intrigue is that this is not a common fretboard that you can see when you go shopping for a guitar with scalloped fingerboard and scalloped frets.
Getting a scalloped fretboard is actually more of a custom job. However, if you are lucky enough, then you can get hold of one that is already scalloped. And if not, then you will have to pay a professional to get it done. Here we shall cover the advantages and the disadvantages of scalloped fretboards between the frets on your guitar. But first, let us get to know a bit more about this fretboard type.
What is Scalloped Fretboard?
If you don’t have much knowledge of what a scalloped fretboard is, then we are here to get you all caught up.
The scalloped fretboard is a unique shaped fretboard where the wood of the fretboard is sanded. Much care is needed in the scalloping technique so that you achieve an even U-shaped dent in between each fret. Usually this starts at the 12th fret or higher but sometimes the entire fretboard is scalloped.
Scalloping is a time-consuming process that takes skill. The technique of scalloping existed even before the existence of the guitar. It was used on any fretted instrument for better note separation, especially in the eastern countries.
Apparently, it might just seem like a look-alteration process of the fretboard, but in reality, it matters quite a lot. If you don’t have any experience in scalloping, don’t try it on your guitar fretboard. It is best to get the scalloping done by a professional.
Advantages of a Scalloped Fretboard
Several famous guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Steve Vai use scalloped fretboards. Hence, there must be some intriguing benefits of these. Let us find out about the advantages of using a scalloped fretboard on your electric guitars.
The first benefit of using a scalloped fretboard that comes into the mind is that you will get a better grip. Your fingers would glide much easily under the guitar strings while doing the bend. Also, the feeling on your finger resting on scalloped necks is somewhat better.
Increased Vibrato Control
Comfort and better grip are apparent reasons, but the prime advantage that guitarists get from scalloped fretboard is the added vibrato control.
Another renowned electric guitarist who used the scalloped fretboard is Yngwie Malmsteen. You might have your own opinion on Yngwie Malmsteen, and you are entitled to it. But we cannot deny that he is one of the best who thought of integrating the classical rhythm into the rock.
Yngwie Malmsteen could do it primarily owing to the scalloping of his fretboard. As the fingerboard is dented inwards, the result is, your finger and the guitar strings will have lesser friction that helps you gain more control on the bending and vibrato. All with a light touch while playing as well.
Just to be clear, we aren’t saying that you would start sounding like Blackmore as soon as you get that fingerboard scalloped. It will take time, patience, and practice to reach there. However, getting it scalloped is surely a beginning.
Heightened Note Separation
We have hinted at this point as we made the introduction of a scalloped fretboard. And it is another primary reason to get your fretboard sanded.
With a scalloped fretboard, there would be more clarity in the notes of the guitar. It is because the guitarist will have to develop a lighter way to play on the strings.
Another reason for better note separation on a scalloped fretboard is that, in the process of sanding, some wood is removed from the fretboard, which makes it thinner and lighter. This could be one of the reasons for the altered vibrations that you will notice.
Disadvantages of a Scalloped Fretboard
There is a reason why scalloped fretboard is not the most popular type out there. It is because, along with the fabulous advantages, there are also some disadvantages to a scalloped fretboard. Let’s have a look:
Notes Can Sound Sharper
If you are a guitarist yourself, you would probably know how passionate we all are while playing the guitar. Hence, many of us tend to play the instrument aggressively. If you press a note a little hard, then the tune might come sharper than you originally intended, which has heightened possibility on this type of fretboard.
If you are acquainted only with the normal fretboard, then you will have to practice for quite long to make a professional performance with a guitar that has its fretboard scalloped. You will have to get into the habit of using a lighter touch while playing on the strings. Using a scalloped keyboard will require you to learn the technique first. Recommend trying out some kind of fret wrap too.
You Will Play Shower in The Beginning
Many people watch Yngwie Malmsteen with his scalloped fretboard and think that it will automatically make you a faster guitar player. But you couldn’t be farther away from the actual fact. It is right that once you have the dexterity with this type of fretboard, you will learn to glide your fingers faster, but it is a long road to that destination.
In fact, in the beginning, you will be playing your notes at a slower pace than normal. As the fingerboard is scalloped into ‘U’ shapes, your fingers will take time to glide from one note to another in the starting days.
However, once you master playing on this type of fingerboard, you will be able to make lesser movements of your hand to reach to the next note. It sounds amazing, but practice makes a man perfect.
Scalloped fretboards aren’t for everyone. But if you are serious about guitar, and want to play like a dream on stage, then you can give it a shot. This type of fingerboard is great for better note separation, more control over the vibrato, and faster playing. But you must dedicate some time to learn the technique to move your hands on it. Also, it will cost you some money to get your fretboard scalloped by a professional.