Chinese music is often characterized by their Pentatonic scales, but they also have some non-pentatonic scales. Here's a heptatonic scale called the "Oriental Scale".

I'm planning on making a dedicated fretboard for my 3-Stinger testbed to see how this scales sound on a CBG type of instrument. So, I should have some results in the coming couple of weeks. In the mean time, you can use the data above to build a 50cm (nearly 20")scaled strummer, or go back to the Stew-Mac fret calculator and use the frets listed in the photo above to make whatever scale size you like.

 

 

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Hi All:

Well, I built my 50cm fretboard to test the heptatonic Oriental Scale, but instead of using the Stew-Mac (12TET) Calculator I used some numbers Jef Long gave me which were calculated using the Pythagorean temperament formula, something I saw reference to in my readings on Chinese pentatonic scales. I mounted the fretboard to my "testbed" CBG using a couple of tie-wraps and tuned the string to Open C. I got the following results:

 

Fret Number . . . . . Note*

0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . C

1. . . . . . . . . . . . . C#

2. . . . . . . . . . . . . E (+25 sharp)

3. . . . . . . . . . . . . F (+20 sharp)

4. . . . . . . . . . . . . F#

5. . . . . . . . . . . . . A (+40 sharp)

6. . . . . . . . . . . . . Bb (+30 sharp)C

7. . . . . . . . . . . . . C (+30 sharp)

8. . . . . . . . . . . . . C# (+30 sharp)

9. . . . . . . . . . . . . F (-40 flat)  [should be E]

10 . . . . . . . . . . . . Bb (-20 flat) [should be F, so I probably messed up big time on this fret.]

 

* As determined by using my Korg Crhomatic Tuner.

 

I have a general idea of the notes that I should be getting when tuned to C, but I have no idea how far off (sharp or flat) the note should be due to the Pythagorean temperament. 

 

When I try to play a "tune", the first octave (8 frets) sound pretty good. But, to my ears, it doesn't sound Chinese. Maybe a bit more Middle Eastern, but I'm no authority. I don't know if doing a "12TET Oriental Scale" will sound any more Chinese. And since I only have one fretboard blank left, I think I'll go back to making pentatonic scales and make my next fretboard using the accidental notes in the Western 12TET scales.

 

By the way, "12TET" means "12 Tone, Equal Temperament".

 

-Rand.

Hi All...

I've been playing a bit with this new Pythagorean derived Oriental Scale. What I have noticed is that if I play up and down a single string it sounds okay. But, if I played across multiple strings it sounds "off" (not quite right). Then, if I strum the strings it really sounds discordant (awful).  I'm wondering if this has to do with the fact that the Pythagorean derived scales are not equal temperament. If this is the case, then I think I need to be playing with equal temperament scales unless all I'm playing on is a one stringer. Seems like any multi-string instrument really needs an equal temperament scale. What do you think?  Are my results within reason?  Or, am I just a really poor fretboard maker (probably also true)?

-Rand.

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