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Yeah, I just got done building a fretless. Fretless fingerboards tend to be a little flatter, like 20" radius or so. The action also tends to be a little lower because you don't have to worry about frets rattling. I started by building a fretless bass so I wouldn't have to worry about scale as much. I worked out fine, and has cool sound to it.

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Alot of times, people put veneer in place of where the fret tang normally would go, just to help the player find the right position. I guess I just assumed you where talking about a bass. Making a fretless guitar sounds pretty unusual. I wonder what it would sound like.

Oh yeah, On fretless basses you use flatwound strings instead of roundwound and the fretboard (rosewood, ebony, ...) stays in pretty good shape. Roundwounds will rip it up real quick unless you coat it with marine epoxy like Jaco Pastorius.

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Alot of times, people put veneer in place of where the fret tang normally would go...

(in a Beavis & Butthead voice) hehe you said tang... :D

i think I saw a BC Rich fretless guitar. They had fretlines in the neck. Maybe that's what you are refering to Snork. Usually like thin maple strips in the fret slot on like a rosewood or ebony board. They used regular guitar strings but I recal there being a finish on the fingerboard.

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Curious about what it'd be like to Play a fretless guitar, I

converted a garage-sale Crestwood nylon string guitar into a

fretless guitar in just a few minutes.

A few notes on fret removal:

I placed a small block of hardwood at the end of a fret and with a

small hammer, carefully tapped out the fret - sliding it in it's

groove. On this guitar, the frets were not glued in. If they had

been, I'd have first heated up the fret carefully with a small

soldering iron before tapping them out. The heat helps loosen the


The "proper" way to proceed would be to fill in each fret groove

with either epoxy or a thin strip of hardwood & epoxy. I intended

to do this, but after a bit of playing, decided that the fret

grooves could be left as is - unfilled. They don't in the least

affect the sliding or sound, nor do they buzz. They serve a couple

of purposes -- they indicate proper finger position and can even

be slightly felt under your finger, which further helps proper

finger positioning. I'd suggest lightly sanding down the neck with

a piece of sandpaper attached to a block of wood, to take off any

irregularities around the fret grooves.

I found that slight irregularities in the fingerboard itself posed

no problem in my case. Even though my action is quite low, the

bridge height raised each string amply above the fingerboard and

thus easily compensated for these irregularities. There were no

buzzes. However, if such irregularities do prove troublesome, the

sandpaper/board method cures this easily. Just work slow and

carefully and evenly.

Nylon strings suit me fine. I have long preferred nylon for

playing blues. Nylon strings on this fretless guitar are a

"natural". Despite the lower three being wound, they slip and

slide beautifully. The lack of frets does noticeably dampen the

string's vibration, but not at all objectionably so. The thing is

very much fun to play. One major recommendation about playing:

DON'T THINK CHORDS. While chords can be played on a fretless

guitar, it's often not pretty, nor is it easy. I find that two-

note chords are not that hard however. Also a melody note played

against an open string sounds very nice.

Given the fretless guitar is not at all unwieldy and certainly

opens up another whole ballgame in guitar playing, I am at a loss

to understand just why they are not more popular!

In a guitar "rut"? Give the fretless guitar a try.

Dennis Havlena

Mackinac Straits

Click here to return to my homepage

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guys can fill an entire stadium with a sound from a cello, if everyone is quiet enough and they play thorough a mike and a small amp. Zappa used a special kind of pick up. Barkus Berry or something like that, he put it on his wind and brass sections. I think it would work here, i dont know about an emg

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