Fretless Guitars?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Stephen Davis, Nov 13, 2005.


  1. Stephen Davis

    Stephen Davis Supporting Member

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    I am thinking about getting a fretless electric guitar. Are there any fretless players out there? What are the pros/cons?

    Rabbit
     
  2. The Eristic

    The Eristic Member

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    Here's my fretless:

    http://community.webshots.com/photo/112416336/146069696jhvgIK#

    I'd like a 7-string solidbody, too.

    A major pro is ear training. You learn to identify what can be extremely subtle intonation problems and fix them on the fly.

    Also, if you're used to playing with a heavy fretting hand and slopping around the board, you'll be forced to tighten up your technique and play with a lighter touch. That wasn't much of a problem with me, as my physical makeup denies me the option of playing with a heavy touch, but when I hand the Glissentar to my blues-rock buddies, it's a rude awakening.

    The only real con is that chording can be tricky to pull off (some chords are extremely difficult), but it's doable with enough practice.
     
  3. Stephen Davis

    Stephen Davis Supporting Member

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    I have a Floyd Strat that I am thinking about just changing the neck out. Do you think this would be a problem? It is just all about budget.

    Rabbit
     
  4. drummondrs

    drummondrs Member

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    I want a Vigier so much!!!
     
  5. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    I heard Steve Vai had Tom Anderson make him one. Dont know if he still plays it.

    You need to have a remarkable ear to pull it off. I hear chording is extremely difficult.

    I would think that if you tried it, you'd end up switching back at some point.. IMO its gotta be difficult or we would be seeing more of them around.;)

    RC
     
  6. kealiikai

    kealiikai Member

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    Vai has also has triple neck, 12 string, 6 string, and fretless 6 string. Fretless is nutz and you gotta be one bada$$ player to man those things.:dude
     
  7. chrissh

    chrissh Member

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    Fretless guitar can be a very gratifying,expressive tool.How much you enjoy it from the start might depend on your objective and anticipation.Difficulty,no more than any other non-fretted stringed instrument,and playing guitar will've already primed you for the physicality.I'd suggest begining with intuition and trust,and hearing/skill precision will follow per your tastes.There are similarities,but it is not just "a guitar without frets"..it has it's own perks,demands,challenges,benefits,etc..It can certainly be unbelievable fun.

    Remember,music is so much more than songs and chords.To paraphrase the incomparable Dan Stearns:"if frets are on/off switches for pitch,then fretless is a dimmer switch".Maybe that can help.

    (http://www.zebox.com/daniel_anthony_stearns/)
     
  8. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Here ya go...

    http://www.eddegenaro.com/reggaedub3.mp3
    http://www.eddegenaro.com/Anton/hopmix/FretlessMix5.mp3
    http://www.eddegenaro.com/skank.mp3
    http://www.eddegenaro.com/perced.mp3
    http://www.eddegenaro.com/knitimprovedits.mp3
    http://www.eddegenaro.com/joihnnymac.mp3


    Resources...
    www.unfretted.com

    Fretless is way more fluid that fretted IMO. To me it is a completely different instrument than guitar, even though i do pretty much mostly the same stuff on each.

    i use two early Vigiers...serial numbers 8+9.

    www.vigierguitars.com
     
  9. markp

    markp Member

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    I want to see,after market fretless neck for strat.Someone somewhere has to be doing this.
     
  10. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Silver Supporting Member

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    Since Warmoth does unlined fretless for no upcharge and lined fretless for a $45 upcharge for bass necks, I don't see why they couldn't do it with a guitar neck.
     
  11. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Except then you're dealing with woodboards and inevitably will either have to use flatwounds or the strings will eat the board.
     
  12. markp

    markp Member

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    Yes ,I figure there would be more to it than that.Some kinda Fiberglass, epoxy, carbon fiber magic stuff .Maybe
     
  13. rh

    rh Robo Sapien Noise Maker Gold Supporting Member

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    + 1,000
     
  14. einstein

    einstein Member

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    i played eds fretless vigier. their easier to play than you might think. You have no snap at all though. Frets really do make guitars do what they do best. Eds has the steel fingerboard which has no sustain so you have to use an overdrive or it just sounds like plunk. As ed said you have to use flatwounds or the fingerboard will chew up. I feel like you could use an ebony board and roundwound strings and it would last long enough. Considering though a proper fretjob is $250 and a warmoth ebony neck with no frets would be around $200 you could just throw away the neck every few years, sand the bevel marks out of it, or change the fingerboard for less than the cost of a fretjob. Ebony really is hard stuff and of couse you could use a poly coating. Im suprised vigier uses the brass fingerboard because acoustically it is very dead. I never heard what shawn lane did with it.
    I can tell you the average guitar player will dig it for about 7 miniuts and than think hey i really like the sound of the snap of a good fret job and big frets ( no disrespect to ed of course) it works better for bass.
    It is different though but like i said for me it REALLY made me apreciate frets that much more. There is no snap pull offs or bending or sustain or perfect intonation. This is just my opinion and your ex may differ. If it was really useable fender gibson ibanez and yamaha would have them and warmoth would have had them 10 years ago, because guitar players like to try anything. If i had one i would not play it. Different strokes for different folks , i really thought i would like it more, but the brass fingerboard does not sound good acoustically at all. No disrespect to Ed or Vigier at all but most guitar players would come to the same conclusion i did and thats why
    nobody makes them. Ed really loves his though and i respect him for not following the norm and thinking outside the box and working around the limitations.
     
  15. einstein

    einstein Member

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    obviously a carbon fiber moses fingerboard would be perfect and i cant imagine why vigier never figured that out. moses would do this if you called them, its what they do for a living! Patrick Vigier must not have researched this at all.Carbon fiber strat necks sustain like crazy and sound great. Everytime i check one out im shocked at how good carbon fiber sounds on guitar as our brains are programed to want, to like beautiful exotic wood. Kinda sounds bright like ebony.
     
  16. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    Maybe pulling the frets on a repro neck, adding filler strips in the fret slots, and using some sort of epoxy like Jaco did on his fingerboard would work? Just a thought.
    I messed around on a Phil Kubiki fretless guitar years ago, a person would have to spend a fair amount of time/practice getting the technique down. Frankly, I have enough on my hands just playing a normal guitar. ;)
     
  17. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Epoxy will make the tone brighter.
    As for most folks loosing interst after 7 minutes...yup I think they will.
    As for no sustain, no snap...it's not a guitar...can't compare it.
    As for prefect intonation. Well a fretted intrument certainly doesn't have perfect intonation.
     
  18. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Makes no sense whatsoever. Ebony, brass, glass, carbon fibre...none of it sustains like a rular guitar with a fretted board.
    Why does a lute sound different than a viola, why does a sarod sound different than a sitar?
     
  19. chrissh

    chrissh Member

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    What matters most is you trust your ears/intuition and "get your hands dirty",so to speak.

    I've used bronze,glass,phenolic,ebony,and sheet-metal fretless fingerboards.They all sound good and they all work.Abrasion does happen but it's not the same issue as with fretless bass(much thinner strings).

    Your sense of intonation will come to you with time,as will your preference for necks.But you won't really know in theory,so dive in and "use the force"
    ;)
     
  20. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    Hunting arund Fretless.com, I noticed that they had a link to a Rondo fretless neck. Their link was outdated, but Goggle came through. The neck is here.
    Unfortunately, it's a set-in neck, made for Agile's LP type guitars.

    I don't see the problem with getting an ebony neck & using flatwounds. I'd be generally more interested in using flatwounds, anyway. I've been interested in a Glissentar for years, but I'd rather have a true steel or nickel strung electric with magnetic, not piezo, pickups. But to get anything of reasonable quality seems to be very pricey, which a a serious risk. I'm pretty motivated (being a longtime fan of various oud styles, as well as Hindustani music) but I've been wrong before...

    There was a mention of sitar vs. sarod -- there are many more differences than fretboard. I mean, the sitar doesn't even have a fretboard, just movable frets. Then, there's the issue of scale length, which is very different; sitars are closer to a bass in scale length. In fact, a fretless bass tuned DADG (with the low D being a regular D bass string; not a dropped tuning) sounds more like a sitar than any Coral or similar, even without the sympathetic strings, buzz bridge or chikari. And sustain is NOT a problem, by any means.
     

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