UA-62480628-1

Jump to content


Photo

What is the purpose of Fretless Guitar?


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#16 Broomy

Broomy

    Known Gaggle

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 40 posts

Posted 11 November 2015 - 08:48 AM

Les fret said: "

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...."

 

Would it be an idea to dedicate a part of the website for useful youtube links, with some guidance added, for example: In this video so and so is explained well, see from time x to time y for detailed view of...."


The Quintar Project:
- Popularizing an all fifths tuning for guitarlike instruments
- Youtube: Playing and Building
- Files: Sourceforge


#17 jahloon

jahloon

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 7,159 posts

Posted 11 November 2015 - 10:39 AM

 

You can use the quote button on the reply toolbar just bottom right of the smiley option to get this effect.

 

 

 

Would it be an idea to dedicate a part of the website for useful youtube links, with some guidance added, for example: In this video so and so is explained well, see from time x to time y for detailed view of...

 

Any volunteers?


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

#18 Liquids

Liquids

    Known Gaggle

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 13 April 2016 - 08:19 PM

Reviving a somewhat older thread here...

 

 Jahloon said:

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?

 

While I think the "fretless guitar" has both clear assets and clear disadvantages as an instrument - all instruments are this way.

 

If slide-style guitar  playing of all types are valid—and they are—so it fretless.

 

However, it might be realistic that fretless will remain a minority, even within the world of guitar.  

 

In a sense, “fretless guitar” it is potentially a different instrument than a guitar.

 

Of course, for now, we think of it as a fretless variation  of what we think of as guitar.  It may be worth considering  that things may evolve and change, in that regard, in time.

 

I personally suspect that the significant rise in popularity of the guitar and electric bass guitar in the west--in fairly recent history (less than the last 100 years)--is related to the fact that these instruments ARE fretted.  

 

In the big picture of history, it wasn’t that long ago that Leo Fender brought the very notion of a fretted/electric bass into mainstream availability for musicians, for instance. 

 

In the west, it’s become relatively common for the average person to have the ability to play some amount of recognizable music on fretted instruments, within a relatively short amount of practice time, using a fretted guitar and/or bass--and of note, without first having to delve into the “classical music” school, necessarily, anymore.  There are other musical outlets and approaches viewed as valid, including “teach yourself.”

 

The other most common instrument that average people seem to have basic familiarity with is piano—another instrument we can think of as “fretted” for practical purposes. 

Guitar and piano are also though of as chordal instruments. By comparison, violin, an instrument commonly studied, is ususally abandoned, and fretless---it’s not the kind of instrument you can play “a little” of or play “infrequently.”  It more or less requires regular upkeep due to the demands of skill with fretless intonation, etc.

 

This is where fretless guitar becomes different.  The fretless ‘variant’ becomes more difficult—on the spot intonation  requirements, not impossible, but harder to play chordally, tilts further toward playing melodically/single note, and not something one can easily keep up with casual or infrequent playing.
 

Since the bass guitar is predominantly played as a single note instrument, it’s not, per say, as common to see people adapting to fretless bass compared to fretted, but it’s certainly more common than fretless guitar currently is.  

 

Fretless, melodic, plucked string instruments—such as the sarod and the oud—are established in music that is ‘modal’ rather than chordal, keep in mind.  They are certainly more common in their established music tradition than the fretless guitar or even fretless bass guitar.  Whether this is due to their having a longer tradition than fretless guitar(s), or their being in a context of “modal” music is debatable, but either way, they are far more established than fretless guitars, at this point in time, and it makes some sense.

 

The amount of people who are--for a somewhat comparable example—comfortable playing slide guitar, seems to me to be a minority and percentage. Slide guitar doesn’t even necessitate a completely different instrument, as does a fretless guitar.  However, It would make sense for dedicated slide guitarist to play fretless instruments. Nevertheless, outside of overhand slide (lap slide, lap steel, etc), how often do you see players playing slide guitar with an unfretted guitar?  I was listening to Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s collaborative record recently, and Ry is playing acoustic slide guitar—and you frequently hear the sound of his slide knocking against the fretted neck of his guitar, for instance...

 

It makes a certain kind of sense for fretless guitar to be played with ‘alternate’ or ‘open’ tunings as SOME slide guitarists do, in order to play chords or various intervals more easily – though plenty of slide guitarists keep their guitar tuned in ‘standard’ guitar tuning with slide, too...I am so used to guitar tunings, trying to adapt to another tuning is very unusual on an instrument with more than  3 or 4 strings/courses, so I stick to standard tuning and focus on the music, the notes, the feeling of my playing (and intonation).

 

Cchhrriisstt said:

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

 

.

With fretted guitar, there is the ability to play chords, which is one of its selling points—you can potentially play along to songs on guitar, early on (not just the melodies),, which attracts many people to the instrument.  

 

Coming from fretted guitar, as most do, the player has  likely learned how to play chords, if not exclusively.  I see plenty of videos online, and plenty of players in person, where people have played for years, and can play all sorts of chord things, even in a band, but are horrible at playing melodic single-note lines.  For me, learning both went hand in hand, but it was not that way for everyone.

 

While some develop the ability to play many chords with good intonation on fretless guitar, the fretless aspect more or less makes an instrument primarily  a melodic and single note instrument, and secondarily choral.  I think these are some of the most significant reasons  I even read of people trying fretless and saying they can’t, or it is not for them.


Sometimes it's sad being a lefty...

#19 jahloon

jahloon

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 7,159 posts

Posted 14 April 2016 - 01:01 PM

Not a lot I can add to that Liquids, very comprehensive take on things.

 

Alternate tunings help a lot, http://www.unfretted...retless-guitar/

 

I think fretless guitar is gaining traction, albeit slowly, like Michael Vick said: "It will take a really famous guitarist to take up fretless guitar before it becomes more popular"


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

#20 les fret

les fret

    Unknown Gaggle

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 121 posts

Posted 15 April 2016 - 06:50 AM

Well said Liquids! I agree with almost everything. For me personally I don't want fretless guitar to be really popular or mass culture. I also think it is so difficult to play really well (!) that it doesn't become too popular and also too experimental to be really popular. You need to spend much time with it to be really good, same as on a violin or any other non fretted instrument. Not many people are so devoted. Also it is much more limited as for playing chords and sustain than a fretted guitar as you already pointed out. Also many famous guitar players already have played fretless guitar. Adrian Belew, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Frank Zappa etc.


gitaarles en basgitaarles in Weert
www.gitaarschoolweert.nl

#21 Liquids

Liquids

    Known Gaggle

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 15 April 2016 - 03:16 PM

les fret said:

Well said Liquids! I agree with almost everything. For me personally I don't want fretless guitar to be really popular or mass culture. I also think it is too difficult to play really well (!) and also too experimental for it to be really popular. Also it is much more limited as for playing chords and sustain than a fretted guitar as you already pointed out. Also many famous guitar players already have played fretless guitar. Adrian Belew, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Frank Zappa etc.

 

Yeah, I agree that it is more difficult to play fretless guitar really well, when compared to fretted guitar.  I guess I hinted at that but didn't say it outright.  ;)   

 

I didn't want to make it such a broad statement - as I can imagine that those coming from something like years having learn the oud and sarod (etc.), fretless bass, slide guitar, or even something like a cello prior to taking up guitar/fretless guitar, then the fretless guitar would not be as steep a learning curve, possibly not difficult at all for such a person. 

 

For almost anyone coming exclusively from fretted guitar, it requires a fairly developed ear and feel. I think of it as developing a kind of "feedback loop," where you developing the skill of playing a note, but constantly listening to the notes and adjusting.  On guitar one has a fairly wide range where you can conceivably 'land' a fretted note and it would be intonated successfully, because of the way frets work and within the range of scale lengths most guitars utilizes. 

With fretless, the range for sounding ''in tune" with the notes one plays is exponentially smaller.

 

Some of the ear-training type skill of guitar-style playing but intonation can be developed and is necessary for anyone who plays slide, or uses the a floating-tremolo/whammy on guitar for a particular kind of phrasing and not just dive bombs (think Jeff Beck, Scott Henderson), etc. Those playing styles require one to have a developed "feedback loop" for keeping things in tune, even if from playing a fretted note to a bend with a whammy bar that needs an attentive ear to keep the pitch change/bend etc., in tune appropriately, and at times that varies with every fret and possibly even the setup of the guitar/whammy, etc.

 

I imagine that at some point, the sarod, oud, slide, and all fretless instrument masters can hit a specific note completely blind just by muscle memory as much or more than the constant "feedback loop" going on with intonation, but this probably takes many hours or playing.  I look forward to that as a possibility.  It is one reason why I am hoping to more or less stick to one scale length (and variants of it) as much as possible, and within reason, with the availability of multiple kinds of fretless guitars/instruments.

 

the differences in played note ADSR on fretless as compared to fretted--such as sustain, which you mentioned, would be something I would list under the assets/disadvantages. That is, the differences are not necessarily one or the other, just different than fretted, if one is objective about it--but it's indesputably different.  Techniques such as using pads vs nails, plucking with pick/fingers/fingernails all play into that, and it influences both ADSR but the tonality of the notes played.  It's just different.

 

As a lefty, personally I am 22 years in to being accustomed to not being able to find an instrument I'd be interested in just by popping into the local music store. 

Fretless guitars more or less need someone to hand make them or modify them, though the right-handed guitarists do have companies like Godin and Vigier as brands producing fretless guitar models off-the-shelf.  And of course there are aftermarket parts houses like Warmoth producing fretless necks to modify certain 'stock' guitars to be fretless (and maybe some other "brands" as well that I'm forgetting to mention). 

 

For me, I'm already used to the need to hunt down a luthier to build or modify something, or to have aftermarket work done on a guitar, etc., which is more common as a lefty looking for something beyond the readily available, so that's what I have done so far. 

 

I'd enjoy seeing more people "take" to fretless guitar as an usable option for various reasons, but I won't be sad if it stays a niche market either.  I'll keep playing as long as there are viable options, and it seems we are living in a kind of golden age for custom and customizing musical instruments! 


Sometimes it's sad being a lefty...




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users