Fretology is an acoustic guitar research, preservation, and education project through which exceptionally-built, historically significant guitars are analyzed physically and acoustically in order to create a detailed profile that describes how each guitar was made. The project was developed and is maintained by the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab (EGIL) of WPI, and involves a partnership with the Quinnipiac Radiologic Sciences program and a team of cross-disciplinary collaborators and advisors. We are committed to making this data open and accessible to the larger communities of luthiers, musicians, educators, and researchers, and we welcome collaboration and partnership as we continue this effort.
The Fretology partnerships have created the first research and education program to leverage the public fascination with the guitar to engage diverse learners in STEM. The roots of the acoustic guitar extend into North Africa, Italy, and Spain, but since the beginning of the 20th century, it has found its highest expression in the United States. This heritage of creativity was based on apprenticeships, intuition, and experimentation. But until Fretology, there has been no systematic study of the diverse approaches to guitar-making.
These instruments are part of our culture and they're slowly disappearing—what can we learn from them? Our evolving analysis protocols include CT-Scanning methods to produce digital 3D models, which are then supplemented with audio and video records and additional resources in order to facilitate recreation, adaptation, and the dissemination of knowledge among instrument-makers, students, musicians, and lay persons interested in these instruments. Fretology planning began in January 2020 and continues onward through a community effort at http://fretology.org.
While there are many guitar-making schools and organizations that have access to schematics of certain renowned instruments, there is no centralized, open-access repository of information in existence whereby someone can explore in-depth data about these instruments. The overarching goals of the Fretology project are to:
—Create a detailed profile describing how each guitar was made
-Preserve the history and cultural tradition of important instruments
—Identify a sonic profile of the tonal qualities of each guitar
-Archive sounds and video of these instruments
—Equip the instrument-making community with builder resources (models, plans, design docs, etc.) through an open-access digital portal
-Facilitate education and adaptation based on these revered designs
Visit the Fretology website
Founding Project Personnel
-V.J. Manzo, Founding Director and PI of the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab; PI, WPI Faculty
-Ken Parker, Luthier and WPI Affiliate Research Associate for the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab; Project Inceptor and Collaborator
-Ryan McKenna, WPI alumnus and Research Associate for the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab; Project Manager
-John Thomas, Guitar Researcher and Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University; Co-PI
-Tania Grgurich, Clinical Associate Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at Quinnipiac University; Co-PI
-Jeff Duquette, Guitarist and WPI Affiliate Research Associate for the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab; Project Collaborator