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Fretless guitar

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
I would like to have a fretless guitar but I don't have a lot of money. How involved/difficult/practical is it to buy an inexpensive guitar (I'm talking $200-$300 tops), pull out the frets and fill the gaps? What's involved and can a moron like me do it?

Is there a better way??
Thanks!
 
Messages
2,176
Removing the frets will introduce a substantial amount of relief in the neck that would have to be compensated for when filling the fret slots in: it would be an interesting challenge. Another way that might work is to grind most of the fret material off while leaving the tangs intact. I'm surprised that none of the aftermarket neck builders offer a fretless neck.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,302
Bass players doing that conversion have filed off the frets, leaving the tang as a marker. Others pull the frets and lay in a wood filler, either matching or contrasting.

From my experience with fretless banjos* ... thin steel strings are very hard to "fret" unless you have very hard callouses the string goes into your finger tip instead of against the board.


* Yeah, that's a thing.
 

buddyboy69

Member
Messages
5,051
Pull frets fill slots with binding and superglue. Cut off extra on top with a sharp chisle. Sand with beam.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
I would like to have a fretless guitar but I don't have a lot of money. How involved/difficult/practical is it to buy an inexpensive guitar (I'm talking $200-$300 tops), pull out the frets and fill the gaps? What's involved and can a moron like me do it?

Is there a better way??
Thanks!
Hey, there's a couple of good Fretless guitar sites, you should poke around there, but as long as you're here. .

Maybe don't get a long scale guitar to start, standard Strat type you'll struggle with the first position chords unless you've got really big hands.
I have a 24 inch scale now, and that's perfect.
You can get away with bigger plain strings, which helps with the problem Ronsonic brought up, not getting enough finger pressure on the little strings to let them speak.
I use a 16 E.

If you plant and hit it, you get a great big note with nothing but skin.
Or use your nail for a moment of clarity. .

Mustang maybe? Jaguar is 24 inch as well, I think.

So far, my favorite fretless view of the fingerboard is high contrast white to fill the tang slots on a dark rosewood board.

My long scale Jazzmaster fretless has a low contrast board, and if you take your hand off that thing for one beat you better be coming back in with an open string.
It's just too long and blank to get your bearings under certain lighting conditions, like, stage. .

Happy Hunting and have fun!!
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,228
with fretless guitar you've got no real reason to bend strings, so i assume you could go huge on the gauges with no real difficulty, as long as you keep the action nice and low.

+1 to filling the slots with something to recreate the "squeeze" of the fret tangs, otherwise the neck loses stiffness; thin wood veneers of a contrasting color work nicely, as they expand, contract and wear more like the surrounding wood.

grinding the frets off to leave the tangs is a lot of work, and with playing you'll eventually "reveal" the leftover metal, creating super-low frets again.

remember to file the nut slots down too, you want the bottoms like .010" above the wood, if that.
 

ngativ

Member
Messages
1,024
What about covering the fretboard (or fingerboard ) with some layer of metallic laminate ?
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
What about covering the fretboard (or fingerboard ) with some layer of metallic laminate ?
That would be super cool, and I'll bet you can find 'em just like that, ready to go, I just don't know where.

Glass is getting more popular too, and also commercially available last time I checked.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
with fretless guitar you've got no real reason to bend strings, so i assume you could go huge on the gauges with no real difficulty, as long as you keep the action nice and low.
Yep, action low. You don't need to go real big on the wound strings tho if you don't want to. It's the plain strings that wimp out if they're too thin.
The wound strings have such a distinctive growl to them that the gauge is less critical to me.

And, you can bend 'em fretted style, just not as far obviously, but I've been surprised by how much of the fretted technique translates.
More than I imagined going into it for sure.

remember to file the nut slots down too, you want the bottoms like .010" above the wood, if that.
Yep.
 

ngativ

Member
Messages
1,024
That would be super cool, and I'll bet you can find 'em just like that, ready to go, I just don't know where.

Glass is getting more popular too, and also commercially available last time I checked.
I found something about Delta Metal fingerboard, Vigier Guitars and Fretless Imetal



That metallic fingerboard looks awesome.
 






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