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Setar is an Iranian instrument that is able to play korons (half-flats) because of its irregular fretboard:

enter image description here

I know it's doable in guitars with bending the strings. But I wish to change my guitar's fretboard to look like a setar's so that I can play half-flats with fingers easily.

Is it possible?

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  • What kind of guitar? Nov 12 '21 at 15:53
  • @user1079505 It's an EKO acoustic guitar Nov 12 '21 at 16:33
  • This matters because in electric guitar with bolt on neck maybe it could be possible to exchange the whole neck. In acoustic probably the most feasible is to modify existing fingerboard, as John suggested, but that's a substantial amount of work. Nov 12 '21 at 19:04
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Yes!

You could always have a custom guitar built, or modify an existing guitar: Have the fretboard replaced and have the frets set to match the spacing on a Setar. But then the guitar would not be usable as a standard guitar.

In order to allow for different intonations, some innovators (like Tolgahan Çoğulu in the video below) have devised ways to make movable frets on a guitar. In the first one, individual partial-width frets move in slots for adjustment:

As you probably know, there are instruments from other traditions with movable frets (e.g. Sitar, Bağlama). The methods used on those instruments could also be adapted to a guitar-like instrument.

You may also notice in the description area of the above video, links to some other approaches:

  • AUTOMATIC Microtonal Guitar, a one-string prototype with motorized frets controlled by computer to change to preset intonations:

  • LEGO Microtonal Guitar, with a 3D-printed fingerboard base made to accept Lego pieces:

In case the video links go dead, here are some still photos of the inventor (and his son Atlas) with the three kinds of microtonal guitar:

Movable and Lego: Tolgahan and Atlas Çoğulu

Automatic Movable: Automatic movable frets

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  • @Aaron: Done. Also added still images.
    – Theodore
    Nov 12 '21 at 20:46
  • Perfect. Nice answer!
    – Aaron
    Nov 12 '21 at 20:46
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Of course it is possible to add (or remove) frets from a fingerboard. It will require some skill in modifying guitars on your part or you can contract someone to do it for you. You would need to have a very clear idea of the exact pitches you want in order to calculate where the frets need to be. Another issue is whether you can keep the pre-existing frets or have to move them because of differences in temperament. You can either do it to a pre existing guitar or perhaps start fresh with a new neck or fingerboard.

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