Fretless Guitar
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Fretless Guitar

A fretless guitar is a guitar with a fingerboard without frets. While fretless guitars are typically modified versions of factory-made traditionally "fretted" guitars – the frets being removed by the player or a professional luthier – they can also be custom-made by professional builders who specialize in fretless guitars.


Timuçin ?ahin performing with a double neck fretless and fretted guitar.

Fretless guitars are similar to fretted guitars, with the exception that they do not have any frets to act as the lower end point (node) of the vibrating string. Rather, on fretless guitars, the node is established by pressing the string against the fingerboard, resulting in a vibrating string that extends from the bridge (where the strings are attached) to the fingertip, instead of to a fret.

Fretless guitars differ from fretted guitars as follows:

  • They require greater finger position precision, because the position of the node of the string is continuously variable (being established by the position of the finger) rather than fixed (established by the position of a fret). As a consequence of this, chordal playing in particular is more difficult to achieve cleanly on a fretless guitar.
  • The resonance of their strings is different and may require more apt plucking or modified amplification (pickups) to achieve desired volume
  • The smooth form of the fingerboard allows for continuous slides between notes, rather than being notched to individual notes

Fretless guitars are fairly uncommon in most forms of western music and generally limited to the electrified instruments, due to their decreased acoustic volume and sustain. Fretless bass guitars are the most common form of fretless guitar. This is due to similarities with the upright bass, and also because the bass guitar is generally not played as a chordal instrument.

Famous users

Fretless guitar

  • Maartin Allcock Multi-stringed instrumentalist with Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and Bully Wee Band. Session Work with Eddi Reader, Robert Plant & Beverley Craven and many others.
  • Rambo Amadeus, a Montenegrin-Serbian social satirist/comedian and experimental jazz/rock musician, among other things, he is known for playing fretless guitar in his performances.
  • Adrian Belew used a fretless guitar extensively on King Crimson's 1984 album Three of a Perfect Pair.
  • Matt Bellamy of Muse now uses a custom Manson double neck with one neck fretless live for two songs.
  • John Cale used a fretless guitar on the 1965 album Stainless Gamelan - a very early recording of fretless guitar.
  • Ned Evett plays a variety of fretless guitars, typically with a glass fingerboard.
  • David Fiuczynski plays fretless guitar extensively in his instrumental project KiF.
  • John Frusciante used a fretless Stratocaster on the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik (most notably on the guitar solo of "Mellowship Slinky in B Major"); he now uses custom made fretless guitars with glass fingerboards.
  • Nigel Gavin regularly uses a Godin Glissentar in live performance and for several pieces on his albums Thrum and Visitation.
  • Guthrie Govan plays a Vigier fretless guitar.
  • Chuck Hammer layers multiple tracks of fretless guitars on film scores.
  • Aziz Ibrahim plays Godin and Vigier fretless guitars.
  • Benn Jordan, a.k.a. The Flashbulb, plays a fretless guitar on the track Steel for Pappa from the album Soundtrack to a Vacant Life.
  • Pat Metheny plays a fretless classical guitar on the title track of the album Imaginary Day.
  • Issei Noro has used fretless guitar from professional debut year in 1979, the user of the most famous Japanese guitarist, and most user are using.
  • Erkan O?ur Turkish pioneer of the fretless guitar. Makes nearly all his music with self-made fretless guitars.
  • Yannick Robert plays his Ibanez signature model on "Vaci Utca" and "Dix cordes de nuit".
  • Karl Sanders plays a double necked guitar which has an 11-string fretless setup on the top neck, which he used on many of the tracks on Nile's album Ithyphallic.
  • Elliott Sharp has occasionally used fretless guitars, such as on his 1996 album Sferics.
  • Ron Thal (also known as Bumblefoot) has used fretless guitars extensively.
  • Steve Vai played a triple neck (12-string, 6-string and 6-string fretless) guitar during live shows many years ago.
  • Franck Vigroux plays fretless guitar on Push the triangle's album "repush" and live acts.
  • Vindsval of Blut Aus Nord used fretless guitars on the microtonal MoRT album and other albums.
  • Frank Zappa used fretless guitars on a few albums in the early and mid 1970s.

Fretless bass


Festivals featuring live fretless guitar music have been held for several years both in the US and in Europe. In New York, the first NYC Fretless Guitar Festival was held in 2005. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival has taken place since 2008.

See also


  1. ^ Bacon, Tony (2010). 60 Years of Fender. Backbeat Books. p. 50. ISBN 0-87930-966-0
  2. ^ Trynka, Paul (1996). Rock Hardware. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 113. ISBN 0-87930-428-6
  3. ^ Bacon, Tony; Moorhouse, Barry. (2008). The bass book: a complete illustrated history of bass guitars. Hal Leonard Corporation, second edition. p. 96. ISBN 0-87930-924-5
  4. ^ "18 Fretless Questions: Percy Jones". Archived from the original on July 23, 2008. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Roberts, Jim (2001). 'How The Fender Bass Changed the World' or Jon Sievert interview with Bill Wyman, guitar player magazine December (1978)

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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