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What is the purpose of Fretless Guitar?


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#1 jahloon

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:01 PM

Where do you think fretless guitar sits in the musical World? Is it an oddity pursued by a minority? Or does it have a valid place and a valid voice?

I am really interested in gathering thoughts on the above, so answers are much appreciated.

J


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#2 cchhrriisstt

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:17 PM

Hey jeff !! First Congratulations for your really living Website !! Many news and informations.

About your Topic, First i would say that fretless guitar is a kind of oddity for minority in our westerns countries. When i talk about fretless guitar to Guitarists, they say that it's too difficult for them, and even if they try, they don't have any 'famous' guitarist to refer. So Fretless World needs A 'Mickaël jackson' on fretless guitar and Instruments with a cheap price !

I'm really conviced that many musicians would love to play this instrument if they first break their image that it is only for geek musicians.

I hope that will change one day when America's got Talent will make a fretless guitarist the winner ! :-)



#3 jozevgates

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:37 PM

I think it can have many purposes. Unfortunately, many guitarist think the fretless is just silly, or just making things harder for the sake of it. There is a great book called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)". It's available on amazon, physical book or kindle. The book makes mention of fretless instruments many times (mostly the violin family, it's a classical theory book). It talks about something called expressive intonation. I've learned from working on maqam and reading online about maqam, that playing slightly sharp while ascending and slightly flat while descending, can really move the music in subte, yet powerful ways. This is not something you can do on a fretted instrument. While playing in 12 equal temperament on a fretless, G sharp and A flat can actually be two different notes. I think if more guitarists understood the benefits of fretless, rather than looking at it as a limitation, they may very well try

it without the frets.



#4 jahloon

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 04:54 PM

Thanks guys, sorry the quote feature is not working. I'm writing a series of articles about the fretless guitar and the different genres it fits into, why people do play it and why people don't. So your replies are very important, I can't make it all up by myself! :)


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#5 turnaround3

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 05:39 PM

I agree with both Christophe and jozevgates. Microtonalism exists in popular music such as the blues and it really is nice to have the ability to play intervals truly in tune. Also, the idea of it becoming more mainstream is the best possible scenario. Just my personal opinion, but I think whatever your preferred style or styles, the best thing is to continue to make recordings, and appear live in as many settings as possible to illustrate the versatility of this wonderful instrument.

 I personally enjoy playing a variety of styles, and do appear with various ensembles other than my own. All of whom have no problem with my instrument being fretless. In fact they know I'm not in on guitar unless it's the fretless. Once they can see you are competent and that it can expand rather than limit the vocabulary it's not a problem. If it is I figure we're not a good fit anyway.

 

Making music, and staying visible with it can only help it to seem less alien. I like to tell them "C'mon, it's just my guitar.."

And, after a set I always put my guitar in the hands of any curious players to help them get familiar with it.

Unless they're blind drunk, and then of course all bets are off....

So good to "see" you all!

Jack



#6 jahloon

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 05:48 PM

Thanks for that T3, and agree with all that it is the ability to hit the odd note flat or sharp to enhance the feeling of the tune you are playing. It can be an incredibly expressive instrument. It took me about six weeks to get the hang of playing, but younger folks should get it a lot quicker... Everything is a learning curve, stick at it and you will open new horizons. (Oops, preaching to the converted again)  :whistling:


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#7 turnaround3

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 06:17 PM

Couldn't agree more-



#8 jozevgates

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Posted 04 November 2015 - 10:26 PM

Oh, as far as the genre I use, I've done a lot of newage sounding stuff. I'm mostly a solo guy. I've made many solo compositions. Half of them are relaxing and take advantage of being able to use pure intervals. The other half are "out" there with crazy alternate tunings and lot of slides and slurs. Hope this helps.



#9 les fret

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 08:04 AM

Good discussion. I don't agree that there are no 'popular' guitar players that play fretless guitar. Steve Vai, Bumblefoot, Guthrie Govan and Adrian Belew to name of few play fretless. But not exclusively fretless of course. I don't mind that it is not popular. Most players are into more experimental stuff and that is never for the mass public.

 

Also I don't care too much for just intonation. First goal (at least for me) is to play in tune like professional violin or cello players or sarod players or ud players. I think a lot of fretless guitar players play out of tune because they didn't spend as much time on intonation as their string colleagues. When you can play in tune then you can talk about just intonation and stuff. But not before. So there are no short cuts and it can't be learned in six months unless you have a background on these other instruments.

 

I like to play complex chords on fretless and Indian slide ornaments but also slide stuff like Jeff Beck for example. Especially chords are a challenge for intonation and the chords you play are more limited than on fretted guitar. You can play chords but you have to adjust the chords to suit the fretless. That means leaving out some notes or playing another inversion.


gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl

#10 jahloon

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Posted 06 November 2015 - 12:16 PM

There are around 40 well known players on the website who occasionally used fretless guitar, most notable is Dweezil Zappa, his new album Via Zammata features two fretless tracks and he also plays Glissentar and Oud on two other tracks. Full Story here: http://www.unfretted...less-sg-gibson/

 

I've got the hang of just intonation for some chord shapes, and interestingly enough found a way to play a barre chord (G at the third position) in tune, I copied it from a guitarist Jonny Zygen of Birthrite, he was playing fretted and the barre chords he played he used his fourth finger to hold down the 4th and 5th strings, I asked him why and he said it was just something he had always done. Try it, it is a difficult thing to get mentally, but you can play all six strings in tune. So the "You can't play barre chords on a fretless" is smashed.  :w00t:


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#11 Broomy

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 07:12 AM

Great discussion.

 

Recently I heard my six year old son whistle a tune.

As far as I know, whistling doesn't involve any frets.. ;-)

But this settled for me the common critique that it is hard to impossible to intonate correct.

 

For me starting playing fretless (along with an all fifths tuning) felt like coming home.

 

As for popularizing fretless playing:

Maybe it would help if there are more step-by-step tutorials available on youtube (besides the already tons of info that is available here)?

Time for a joint-venture of the fretless community?

 

 

Hans


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#12 jahloon

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 09:54 AM

 

As for popularizing fretless playing:

Maybe it would help if there are more step-by-step tutorials available on youtube (besides the already tons of info that is available here)?

Time for a joint-venture of the fretless community?

 

Yes Hans, I think youtube tutorials would be a great start... 


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#13 les fret

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 10:41 AM

There are plenty of videos already. Look for fretless bass, cello, violin, sarod, ud turkisch classical guitar and slide guitar etc. Basically every fretless instrument video. No specific fretless guitar videos are needed I think. The techniques are not completely new. So much to learn from those other instruments. I think instruction videos won't make the fretless guitar more popular. And why do you want it to be popular in the first place? Popular doesn't make it more enjoyable. Just some thoughts....


gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl

#14 jahloon

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 12:17 PM

@Les Fret 

 

 

There are plenty of videos already.

Yes, I forgot to mention Cenk Erdogan and Burak Kaya videos on the lessons page of Unfretted: http://www.unfretted.com/lessons/

 

 

And why do you want it to be popular in the first place? Popular doesn't make it more enjoyable.

Reminds me of something John Lennon said about a band: "I used to like them until they became popular" I can think of quite a few things that were spoilt when they went mainstream...

@jozevgates

 

 

There is a great book called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)". It's available on amazon, physical book or kindle.

Reading it now, it does explain a lot in quite a readable way, and has given me quite a few ideas to play around with, review to follow....


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#15 jahloon

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:10 PM

Review of "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)"

 

http://www.unfretted...ny-book-review/


Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk




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