1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)


Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ZombieGhosTrain, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. Recently I de-fretted my bass, and was itching for more to do. I've got a few old, crappy guitars lying around...and was wondering how they would play fretless? I can barely play guitar, just some easy powerchords and stuff, I spend way more time with my basses. A guitar player I know mentioned sometihng about chords going all to hell with no frets...assuming you could place your fingers properly I don't know if this would be a problem.

    I've seen one fretless guitar before at a concert. The guy in Cheap Trick used one live when they opened for Alice Cooper. Remember Jimmy Page's doubleneck? This guy had 5 neck guitar , and the bottom one (near his feet) was fretless. However, he did not play it...:rollno:

  2. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I have heard of fretless guitars, but have never played or even laid eyes on one.

    I'd definitely try it out for curiousity's sake. If it felt good, I'd try and plug it in.

  3. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    Satriani has a triple neck--the top one's fretless.
  4. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Fretless guitars do exist, and there are some players out there. The instrument has some quirks, though. First, your intonation must be very precise. The ear is more sensitive to pitch variations in the guitar's range, and, due to the shorter scale length, there is less 'margin of error' to work with. Chords will be very difficult for the most part, and some common combinations will be nearly impossible to play. Also, fretless guitars have very little sustain.

    That said, I've heard some neat things done with fretless guitar. It's usually used for solos (ie: one string at a time), and can be quite expressive in the hands of a master.
  5. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    I heard a fretless guitar played only once, and that was when that guy invented the fretted-to-fretless system. Its definitely true that you can hear intonation problems with a guitar because the beats that you hear when a note is out of tune (played against the same note in tune) are more frequent, therefore more apparent. In addition, I see guitar and bass as being entirely different instruments/cultures. For instance... even though they do exist... you dont really see tremelo bars that much on basses, but you see them a lot on guitars. I think basses are generally more natural/pure sounding, so the whole fretless/anti-metal thing really works.
  6. justateenpoet

    justateenpoet Have you...killed the Venture brothers!?!?

    May 14, 2005
    I defretted an old Squier strat after I thought of how neat it would be to slide chords up and down the neck. It's a lot of fun, but it's taken a lot of work to get it in playable condition.

    My main gripes with it are:
    - A lack of sustain anywhere above the 15th fret
    - A lack of "mwah"

    As fookgub said, skilled players can do some great things with fretless guitars...I myself, however, am not one of those individuals.
  7. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
  8. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I remember reading Andy Summers' review of one, and he had nothing but horrible things to say about it.
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I think Pat Metheny has one. I know that there is a track on "Beyond the Missouri Sky" that sounds like one is being played...very sitar-ish.
  10. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    David Torn plays one fairly regularly. Apparently they're pretty popular with the non-western-harmony crowd. They're common enough now that Guitar Player ran a few pages about them and the amount of guitarists playing them.

    From what I read there, the odd chordal sounds you get from minute imperfections in intonation are part of the appeal, and true masters play with those intervals to add color to chords.
  11. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Adrian Belew played one on Discipline (King Crimson) to get elephant-like effects. Cool stuff, if not entirely practical.
  12. Whoa...inspiration perhaps? That does sound good.
  13. visa


    Dec 17, 2005
    steve vai's triple neck has a fretless on the bottom, he uses one hand to stroke and slide around the strings on it while tapping with the other hand, that sort of thing.
  14. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    My boss has a fretless acoustic guitar tuned to open F IIRC. It's a Fernandez. It has a drone string then the other 5 are playable.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Tim Donahue is a great fretless player, for example.
  16. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    On Pat Metheny Trio Live album, the last 2 songs are on fretless 12-string guitar. I built one for a friend last summer. I don't have any sound clips tho... If I can manage to find a pic laying around I'll post it. I think it sounds good, but like most have said, it doesn't go very far in the way of sustain.
  17. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA