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  1. #1

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    Not bass guitar players.

    I have the crazy idea to build a 7 string archtop with the 7 fretless. Would like to experiment with a full 7 string fretless, or at least fretless on the bass strings.

    Dont think I should be the only with this idea. But I havent came across many players that use fretless guitars, only Guthrie Govan, but he is more a rock player to me, a style I really dont like. Any knows some ?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    A former fusion guitar teacher of mine in the 90s used an electric 6 string fretless regularly.

    I think most of this album must be fretless. It’s been a while but you should be able to tell. Pass the first intro track. Awesome all-star band as well:
    The Dream of the Navigator (El Sueño Del Navegante) - YouTube

    Here you can see it in a video (solo in 1:15)


  4. #3

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    Dave Fiuczynski:


  5. #4

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    I like Cerk a lot. Make sure to listen to some of his other offerings as he does a range of things.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I like Cerk a lot. Make sure to listen to some of his other offerings as he does a range of things.
    This guy seems interesting, at least sound good the couple seconds I listened, good tone, and the Maechione guitar adds extra points. Thanks.

  7. #6

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    Here Guthrie actually *plays* this instrument, not just using it as egzoticum. Even on a fretted guitar would be amazing.

  8. #7

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    All very interesting. Thanks for posting, everyone. I gotta hand it to anybody who can play one of these things in tune. I tried a fretless guitar once, briefly, on a show floor and found lack of frets to be pretty disorienting. It's a very intriguing instrument with a unique sound, tho ...

  9. #8

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    Marc Ducret did occasionally play the fretless, maybe still does.
    His earlier album are more mainstream than his more recent output, if that’s what you’re looking for. Example:

  10. #9

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    Playing a guitar with frets well is so hard I just can't even start considering playing one fretless.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by ES125er
    Marc Ducret did occasionally play the fretless, maybe still does.
    His earlier album are more mainstream than his more recent output, if that’s what you’re looking for. Example:
    This song not very appealing to my taste, but thanks for the reply, gonna dive into his discography and see what I find.

  12. #11

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    John Stowell plays one sometimes. He's quite good!

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by man-argentina
    Not bass guitar players.

    I have the crazy idea to build a 7 string archtop with the 7 fretless. Would like to experiment with a full 7 string fretless, or at least fretless on the bass strings.

    Dont think I should be the only with this idea. But I havent came across many players that use fretless guitars, only Guthrie Govan, but he is more a rock player to me, a style I really dont like. Any knows some ?
    I had this I idea.. and I finally defretted one of my cheap guitars (I did all myself)... then I noodeled aroud with it for about a year... and put the frets back again)))

    I really love the conception of fretless instrument... I love possibilities to fumble to the proper pitch.

    but in my opinion the guitars sound so poor as a result (even ampified ones, even well-setup ones) and the intonation is so difficult to distinguish (not even contro but distinguish with short attack and sustain) that it gradully move into oriental 'oud-like' stuff...

    Violins and cellos etc. are totally different story...

  14. #13

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    Rotem Sivan made it... but I am not sure if really played it further on...

  15. #14

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    Jaco Pastorius is a master of fretless bass guitar...

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    Jaco Pastorius is a master of fretless bass guitar...
    I have fretless bass.

    But the thing is I have the intonation problem too
    .. not as a player but as a listener


    I have it even with upright bass played pizzicato. It always sounds a bit false to me however great the player is

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I have fretless bass.

    But the thing is I have the intonation problem too
    .. not as a player but as a listener


    I have it even with upright bass played pizzicato. It always sounds a bit false to me however great the player is
    It has to be trained.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    It has to be trained.
    I am not talking about skills to intonate


    It is my ear... too short plucked sustain makes intonation float however great the player is.

    This cannot be trained. It is how I hear things

  19. #18

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    Cenk Erdogan does great things with his instrument, melodically, dynamically, rhythmically. As long as one doesn’t need meticulous harmony, consonant triads, and the like as a soloist, fretlessness offers a fresh path to explore. As part of a ensemble, it seems even more fabulous. Why should Kurt Rosenwinkel have all the legato fun with his POG?

    Luthiers who build Asian/Indian-style fretless instruments include Daniel Zucali in Austria and Ari Lehtela in North Carolina. Both have used brass fretboards for these instruments; Ari in particular is willing to build pretty much any hybrid you can imagine. Ari has some doubleneck designs that contrast fretted/unfretted necks, different scales, voicings, etc. I’ve played one of his electric gitari instruments—immediate gratification in sitar-like scales and drones in an instrument that feels like an Irish bouzouki/guitar hybrid.

    Daniel’s eponymous website is impeccable, and mostly about fretted instruments in the classical tradition. Ari is a mad scientist with a messy website, but his instruments are superb, and he is friendly and approachable about building wild gear that works as it should.

    Just don’t yank frets out of a cheap Strat and expect to get what Cenk Erdogan gets. My younger brother did this with a good Jazzmaster and ruined its value for some plinky thunky sounds that sounded stupid even in a free jazz context.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    I play 7 string fretless. I also build guitars too….
    There's something of an entire untapped universe of sound. I've played fretless for close to 15 years now. It changed everything.
    Fascinating—show and tell (and link) more when you can.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhl-ferndale
    Fascinating—show and tell (and link) more when you can.
    Fretless has a more expressive and challenging sustain, and it's real hell with chording but those are not detractions when you seriously master the mechanics of the instrument. You take NOTHING for granted and you work for every note and every sound, but within that there is a world of expression in each note and sound you commit to.
    Position playing and kinesthetic licks are not a strength for fretless playing, where speed and hand patterns rely on frets to keep the note spot on. If you're off by just an almost imperceptible amount, the note will come out as glaringly out of tune. So I learned a different approach: Extremely accurate fingering with fingertips with a large vocabulary of techniques on the onset of the note (slides, vibratos, mutings, microtonal blue notes, for starters).
    Bill Frisell said he may have to learn the instrument from scratch. That's absolutely true.
    But it has made me such a better fretted player. I change positions for just about EVERY phrase I play and my fingerings are all phrase and lyric motivated; my visualization of the fretboard is really integrated. That has made my fretted approach bolder and my phrase awareness more purposeful.
    It's hard not to have the sustain I take for granted with a fretted instrument. My PLUS pedal (a sustain), compressor and volume pedal are used in imaginative ways quite different from with a fretted.
    I should say I like the acoustic qualities of an archtop so I always strive for a sound that puts them in the fore. My 7 string fretless is a thin body archtop with a 15" body. It's the only one I've made.

    Through experimentation, I feel that a thin top string is really hard to work with when it comes to fretless electric. I do like dropping everything down a 4th (baritone) which keeps the top fat. As an electric, a high fret access guitar is handy here (electrics are good as Les Paul or 335 type necks) but interestingly enough, pure acoustic flat tops are strong in normal tuning. Bill's has normal tuning and it's a OOO sized body, 6 string fretless.

    Fretless guitars change radically in feel with the slightest adjustments to action and neck relief so each individual's take and taste is important when getting to know the guitar. There is no "standard setup" when it comes to fretless. Be aware of this if you're going to try one out. You may need to do some work to make it work for you.

    That said, it's SUCH a vocal and articulate sound, filled with nuance and surprise. It's not a guitar without frets. It's something different entirely.

  22. #21

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    Something different entirely, indeed.

  23. #22

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    I knew a guy that played guitar and did that throat singing thing sometimes. The harmonics produced by that singing are mathematical, and so untempered. He had an untempered scale on his fretted guitar so they both would agree.

    He also had a fretless. In fact, it seems to me that this guitar had interchangeable fretboards...somehow. Normal fretboard, untempered frets, and fretless. He was also into microtonal singing.

    This was something like 35 years ago, so the memory's a bit faded. But I did get a chance to play a fretless.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I knew a guy that played guitar and did that throat singing thing sometimes. The harmonics produced by that singing are mathematical, and so untempered. He had an untempered scale on his fretted guitar so they both would agree.
    .
    RIGHT!!! Once I began to hear what I played through overtones and the natural harmonic series, every phrase tended towards a naturally beautiful manifestation of the scale, especially when it came to the 3rd of the scale. So my chromatic harmony was more melodic, and these notes really create outside tension the way they couldn't on the fixed equal tempering.
    When I go from fretless to fretted, certain notes really sound "off", and I don't take harmonic content for granted.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I knew a guy that played guitar and did that throat singing thing sometimes. The harmonics produced by that singing are mathematical, and so untempered. He had an untempered scale on his fretted guitar so they both would agree.

    He also had a fretless. In fact, it seems to me that this guitar had interchangeable fretboards...somehow. Normal fretboard, untempered frets, and fretless. He was also into microtonal singing.

    This was something like 35 years ago, so the memory's a bit faded. But I did get a chance to play a fretless.
    Aww, the mathematical harmonic throad singing sounded so interesting, I was hoping you would remember his name. Would be cool to hear. But its a good idea.

  26. #25

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    His name is Timothy Hill.