David Mead peruses a dynamic duo of fan fretters from the esteemed Avian range
We first met the Avian range of acoustics around the middle of last year when I sat down to review a trio comprising the Skylark, Dove and Songbird models. In essence, these are designer instruments that are manufactured in China under very stringent quality control, meaning that purchasers can access boutique style guitars at very reasonable prices. I remember being surprised and delighted by the quality on offer in the range, but now it’s time for something a little different because two of the Avians have a new trick up their sleeves in the form of fan fret variations.
If you’re at all unfamiliar with the fan fret – or “multi-scale” – concept, I’ll attempt to clarify matters in the briefest way possible. Far from being a new gimmick among luthiers, the fan fret idea has been around for hundreds of years. It’s an attempt to aid intonation by offering a slightly different scale length for each string, meaning that the player has all the benefits of rich, tuneful basses and sweet trebles without the compromise usually necessary with a standard fretting arrangement. Players like Andy McKee and Tony McManus are enthusiastic about their own fan fret instruments, declaring that drop tunings in particular are more stable from a intonational perspective. I’ll admit up front that I’m a fan fret novice; I had never played one until these two Avians arrived on my doorstep and so we’ll be embarking on this voyage of discovery together right from the start!