Mention violin in conjunction with frets and the discussion heats up. When I started to play the violin, I had an idea where the notes should be, due to my guitar background. Playing them in tune was another issue. After three months fiddling I got so frustrated that I put the Fiddle Fretter sticker from Peter Stoney onto the fingerboard. Instantaneous the notes where correct and the joy was back. Ever since I use this help. Although the Fiddle Fretter is a good compromise it is not ideal, it wears and therefore needs to be replaced regularly.


The positive aspects of frets are obvious; you have tactile, visual and auditory feedback. However, you do not want a bowed mandolin.
The question therefore is: Is it possible to design a permanent tactile and visual feedback system onto the fingerboard without this influencing the natural sound of the violin?

Inverse Frets- Laser vs. Milling
We have been experimenting with creating inverse frets into the fingerboard with two methods, i.e. laser and milling.
We only made 7 frets because the other notes are obvious and also it yields a comprehensive view.
All inverse frets (laser and milled) are 2mm across.

Because the frets are inverse (i.e. into the fingerboard instead of raised) the sound and other features of the violin stay completely intact. Totally no difference. Amazing!

LaserFrets look perfect and are perfect. However it turns out to be too perfect; too smooth and too perfectly in tune. Playing becomes more or less static.
Next we milled 2mm frets into an other violin with a Dremel and this does not look very great and smooth but it plays ideal. This was a big suprise. Even though the milled frets are far from perfect, playing with them yields a pefectly in tune result. Amazing too!

Because the LaserFrets turned out to be too perfect we tried to make these less perfect with a burning tool. Well, not a good idea; see the comparison picture below.
At the moment I am playing very happily with the milled inverse frets!

Some pictures (click on the thumbnail)
Milled Frets
Milled Frets