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Just saying hi and a few questions


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#1 Fuzzy

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 08:11 PM

Hi!

 

Apologies in advance for any rambling, I start typing and my hands kind of run away from me at times, especially after a nightshift.

 

I'm new to fretless guitar. Really new. That is to say, I don't actually own one as yet, but have found one de-fretted that I hope to get some point in the near future. 

 

I have got a fretless bass though, so I have a rough idea of what it will be like. 

 

Without boring everyone with details about the dream multi-scale guitar I want to get built, I'm looking into fretless guitar after swapping out the G and D strings on the fretless bass with piccolo bass strings. I then run the bass through a bunch of pedals, one of which is a Boss LS-2 (A/B switch) so that I can switch between a bass amp and a guitar amp. 

 

I've only had this set up for about 3 months, and my intonation is sometimes good (well average), sometimes bad, but I really like some of the non-traditional sounds I can get. Only problem is I've only got 2 strings to play with at the moment for the guitar part, hence me looking more into fretless guitar. I intend to get a custom built, and am deciding if fretless is the way to go. 

 

So that's me.

 

Few quick questions

 

As I'm having intonation trouble, I'm wondering if fret-lines or markers would help. A friend of mine said how without lines your ear develops better but after doing my first gig with it the other day (mine has no markers), when I missed a note and the pressure was on, I found I lost my place for a good few bars. Did anyone start off with markers or just the plain fretless?

 

I saw some youtube clips of an Ebow being used and it looks like it could really create some awesome sounds. Has anyone tried either an Ebow or is there a combination of pedals that you love to play through? I'm guessing volume, reverb, delay and some kind of fuzz/overdrive, which is pretty much my pedal setup now and seems to be working through the set up I've got. 

 

Has anyone tried a fanned fretted guitar? Or a fanned fretted fretless guitar? The concept is kind of absurd, especially without the markers and could even be kind of unplayable to begin with, but yeah. Anyone tried one? 

 

Cheers

 

Fuzzy

 



#2 jahloon

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 10:15 PM

Wow quite a few questions there....

 

First off don't worry about fret lines, if you have not got any markers get some nail varnish and dab it on the edge of the fingerboard, that is all you need, your mind will do the rest.

 

EBows are a great tool with fretless, I love getting a theremin sound it is a great tool.

 

Fanned.. well it does not really apply, being fretless, but what does apply is that lower tuned strings require the bass string at the bridge to be retarded significantly. 


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

#3 Fuzzy

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 10:52 PM

Thanks for the reply!

 

I might try some markers, I saw a fretless guitar on your site that looks like what I'm after, not just the dots but it's got the lines as well and it leaves the fretboard clean. I really like the look of an unmarked fretboard since switching over to the fretless bass. 

http://www.unfretted.com/news/lava-fretless-guitars-lithuanian-boutique-lutherie/ 

 

I think an Ebow is going to be the next thing I get. I've been wanting one for about 10 years but have never bitten the bullet, maybe it's about time I did. Depends on if I get this fretless or not (and if I don't I'll be using your guide to try and de-fret something). 

 

The fanned fret idea is because of the multi scale I want to get built. I was looking at Charlie Hunter 8 strings and getting some ideas, but I thought without frets (or at least fret lines) it would be crazy difficult to try and learn as the low E would be marked on the side but none of the other strings would actually line up. Steep learning curve and it would completely throw someone else off if they wanted to have a play.

 

Almost 9 AM here in Australia. Music shop opens at 11. Hopefully in a few hours I'll have at least gotten the chance to try out a fretless 6 string and see what it's like :lol:  



#4 jahloon

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:12 AM

I guess with the time difference you now own an Ebow?


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 Fuzzy

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 02:33 AM

Haha no not quite yet, maybe in a couple of weeks. I haven't got the fretless yet, but I did get a chance to play around with it, see if it's still there come pay day next week!



#6 Liquids

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 07:35 PM

Fuzzy Said:

 

I'm looking into fretless guitar after swapping out the G and D strings on the fretless bass with piccolo bass strings.

 

I've only had this set up for about 3 months, and my intonation is sometimes good (well average), sometimes bad, but I really like some of the non-traditional sounds I can get. Only problem is I've only got 2 strings to play with at the moment for the guitar part, hence me looking more into fretless guitar. I intend to get a custom built, and am deciding if fretless is the way to go. 

 

Sounds like you are experimenting, and I think that's a good way to go.  Otherwise your expectations may not be met.  Keep trying different things like you are!

 

I don't own a fretless bass, but keep in mind that most basses are ~34" scale, and most guitars are ~25.5" scale.

 

If you are familiar with piano - you know that without the damper pedal, or when holding a note, low notes sustain longer.  This is because in pianos, the lower strings have a longer scale length.  The higher strings have shorter scale length.

 

The shortest scale length on a bass or guitar are between the nut and tuner, and/or the tailpiece and the bridge, if applicable.  These can be places that, regardless of string gauge, the pitches can be high, the string tension is high, and the scale length is short...one or all of those factors yields rather short sustain.  I say the main contributor for the short sustain is the short scale length, though.  That is the best/most readily available example sometimes.

 

Guitar and bass guitar are similar in this regard--as you ascend a single string - pitch increases, and scale length shortens.

 

However, your starting scale length is set on a guitar or bass, and you can usually play all but ~8 very specific "notes" on 2-4 places on a 6 string guitar tuned "standard."

 

Due to scale length and some other factors, bass have more *potential* and apparent sustain.  Know this - if you have a bass at 34" scale, and a guitar at 25.5" scale, the guitar is 5 frets shorter in scale length, basically. That is, the 5th fret on a bass is close to where a 25.5" scale guitar's nut/zero fret is located, in terms of scale length. 

 

So that means, the 12th fret on a guitar is where the *17th* fret is on a bass. I find this general area +/- a fret to be about where sustain gets significantly reduced, if one is using the pads of the fingers to "fret,"

If you use a long fingernail, you can get different results--a different tone, but more apparent/actual sustain, but that's a different technique in many ways.  This will of course vary significantly with the fingerboard material, too.  I am thinking of wood fingerboards for the moment.

 

You'll get a good feeling for the differences between plain/solid steel strings and wound strings with your 2 high piccolo bass strings as you have them, for sure, but keep the scale length differences in mind for a guitar.

 

If you like bass, there is the option to get a 6 string fretless bass, but keep the lowest string a Low E.  then you have a 4 string fretless bass plus two higher string--say, high B/C and also a E/F above that, using a combination of standard bass strings and piccolo strings.

 

Fretless guitar will appear to have higher note options etc, but really, the shorter scale length and 2-3 plain unwound strings and such will change things significantly. 

I actually like tuning C-C rather than E-E with a fretless guitar, personally.  I've tried lots of gauges of strings to balance out what seems to get the most sustain and it's a bit unconventional, as it surprised even me what worked best in that regard!

 

 

Fuzzy said:

As I'm having intonation trouble, I'm wondering if fret-lines or markers would help. A friend of mine said how without lines your ear develops better but after doing my first gig with it the other day (mine has no markers), when I missed a note and the pressure was on, I found I lost my place for a good few bars. Did anyone start off with markers or just the plain fretless?

 

Has anyone tried a fanned fretted guitar? Or a fanned fretted fretless guitar? The concept is kind of absurd, especially without the markers and could even be kind of unplayable to begin with, but yeah. Anyone tried one?

 

Intonation is never easy.

 

I'm a charlie hunter fan myself. In some ways, as I discussed above about scale length, fanned frets make sense.  In other ways, a short scale length for certain notes is sometimes (what I think is the major part of) the reason sustain is shorter than some find desirable for certain notes.

 

While I think fretless multi-scale is not ridiculous, I would say you'd want fret lines IF you did that.  They're never going to be a replacement for one's ears, but indeed, a reference is virtually essential in that case.  you still must learn the fretboard and play by ear, not by fret lines, even when they're there, in order to play well.  SOME kind of FRET locator (not just side dots centered in the middle of 5/7/9/12 etc) certainly helps when you are totally lost and don't want 5 notes or a major interruption for the sake of getting back on track when playing live, and getting accustomed to fretless.  Practicing 'blind,' eyes off the fretboard and/or eyes closed is really the ideal anyhow.  The more you stare at the fretboard, typically the less you can focus on phrasing anyhow--where the emotive aspect of fretless is a real asset in making music, not just playing notes....

 

Ebow is cool.  Michael Manring uses the ebow on fretless BASS quite often.   I think the ebow is sometimes over-used on fretless guitar (youtube videos abound), but making things tasteful, and what is/isn't tasteful is up to the player!  In the end, ebow gives "infinite sustain, where some feel that fretless guitar lacks sustain to a point...but limits the picking hand's activity in phrasing, IMO.  These things are always a combination of advantage/disadvantage, and rarely just one or the other. 

 

Keep experimenting!


Sometimes it's sad being a lefty...

#7 Fuzzy

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 01:14 PM

Wow Liquids, thanks for the in-depth reply! Sorry it took me so long to respond.

 

Multi scale is what I've been looking into for the past 3 or 4 years. I haven't actually had a chance to try one out, but it seemed like the best solution for what I want to do, especially once I saw Charlie Hunter and realised it was a possibility. I was thinking about trying to get a custom built one with the bass length anywhere from  30" - 34" and the guitar scale length being anything that can work with the bass, that I can still fit regular guitar strings on. I'm happy to play heavier gauge guitar strings, I was using 10-52 but recently went to 12-56. As long as my 2 bass strings are in the 80-100+ range, then I'm happy. 

 

To be honest, I'm the kind of player who, up until now, has always just bought a cheap guitar from the second hand shop, and played it through a good amp and a bunch of guitar pedals. All of the guitars I've had in the past have been different, but I find that if I've got a particular instrument in my hands, then I'll generally just become accustomed to the guitar. Except for V necked guitars and a huge 6 string fretless bass I had once. The V neck just felt uncomfortable, and the 6 string fretless was just too wide for me to play, I could felt my hands cramping within 15 minutes. I can play an acoustic guitar, so if the nut width roughly 45 mm I'm ok, but this thing must have been 50+. 

 

With this in mind, and no experience/actual physical research, I perhaps falsely believe that if I have a 25.5" guitar or a 29" guitar, then I'll just get used to it. I figure I went from guitar to bass easy enough (34" vs 25.5"), and I can go back and fourth between them, so why would it be different if it was all on the one instrument? I don't mean to be wilfully ignorant, I've just never had a chance or thought to look at the scale lengths of different guitars. Only a few things I can see being an issue. Finding strings that will be say 29" long and also string tension so that I can still tune it to standard (or something close). Also trying to do chords on a guitar with a really long scale length. I can do some chords on bass, it's not always easy but it's possible.  

 

Trying to quote Liquids, unsure if this will work but:

 

Due to scale length and some other factors, bass have more *potential* and apparent sustain.  Know this - if you have a bass at 34" scale, and a guitar at 25.5" scale, the guitar is 5 frets shorter in scale length, basically. That is, the 5th fret on a bass is close to where a 25.5" scale guitar's nut/zero fret is located, in terms of scale length. 

 

So that means, the 12th fret on a guitar is where the *17th* fret is on a bass. I find this general area +/- a fret to be about where sustain gets significantly reduced, if one is using the pads of the fingers to "fret,"

 

I'm thinking that if the bridge was on a quite severe angle, then there probably won't be that much difference at the nut. So the almost 10" difference between bass and guitar could be levelled out by having the bridge on quite a tight angle. Sure, as you climb higher up the neck the bass and guitar would be "out" more, but it means that for the more open riffs and chords, it should be ok. That's my logic anyway...

 

 

6 string fretless isn't my thing. I've tried it in the past and yeah, not for me, but thanks for the suggestion. I also want this to be more of a guitar than a bass. As much as I love bass, I'm finding the 2 "guitar" strings to be too limiting so I'm thinking 2 bass, 5 guitar.  

 

The other option I've been thinking (as I'm really wanting to start getting this instrument happening and the way it's looking I won't be able to get anything built for another year) is to find a 7 string fanned fret guitar, pull the frets out (with this sites guide), and put 2 bass machine heads into the guitar, and then put 2 bass strings on it. It would mean the bass might be something ridiculous like 26" but it should still work shouldn't it? Or will it throw off the intonation completely? Do you think that making it fretless would make this easier or harder to use in terms of intonation? The idea of getting a $1000+ guitar and then possibly destroying it is a bit overwhelming when I've never paid more than say $300 for a guitar before.

 

As for now, I'm torn. I want to get a fretless and learn how to use it. I also want to make this prototype or find a builder to talk to who can make me a "cheap" model ($1500 - $3000), using their specs/ideas/seconds/discarded parts for pretty much everything except for the multi scale idea I've got. 

 

"Tell him he's dreamin....."

 

Maybe I should just get an ebow and use that on the fretless bass for now. 



#8 jahloon

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 03:55 PM

I'm sure you know this Fuzzy, if you go for bass strings on a shorter scale length, do get short scale bass strings. I once made the mistake of using normal scale strings on a short string bass (Gibson EB0) - total disaster!


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

#9 Liquids

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 04:27 PM

I have a "Bass VI" that is schecter made, but it is 30" scale.  There is a fine line as to what strings you can put on as a high E without it snapping, or being a special string (they do make them - see Octave4plus.com ).  A 30" scale is more or less 3 frets longer than 25.5. so that's like tuning a regular guitar up to G. 

 

If you tried a full 34" scale with a high E tuned like a guitar, that would be nearly impossible without a special string, or at least something like D'addario's NYXL strings, so in that sense, the multi-scale makes sense.

 

I've settled into the 30" with a custom arrangement of string gauges (buying individual strings or bulk strings) and Tune it from G-G or A-A (the low A is the 2nd lowest string on a bass, or the G being a step below that).

 

If you go to this page, you can get calculations for fret locations with a bass and treble side scale length and at which fret you want to be "straight": http://www.liutaiomo...rmulae/fret.htm

 

Did I miss where you said what tuning you intend?  Looks like you want 7 string with 2 bass strings, which I will assume start at low E (though not ideal with a 29" scale length on the bass side, IMO). 

 

I think that, if a 6 string bass neck was too much for you, 7 strings with 2 very large bass strings will also be tough.  Keep in mind that you will need either a stock bass bridge or a stock guitar bridge--which have vastly different spacing.  There are some 'individual string' bridges used and combined, but those are mostly designed for either bass or guitar...etc.

 

Most strings that aren't bass-specific here are 39" long, but keep in mind how much string length is needed between the ball and the saddle, and then the nut and the tuner, plus some to wrap around the tuner.

 

I was not looking into fanned fret, but was exploring a 6 string instrument that was electric, fretless, and 30" scale like my Bass VI (though not tuned as low as a bass), and ran into quite a bit of trouble figuring how everything would work even without fanned frets.  Guitar bridges that can handle bass strings, using both guitar tuners and bass tuners, headstocks that would work with that....strings that would be long enough on the non-bass strings, etc.  Be prepared to do a lot of homework, and/or have Ralph Novak (etc.) build it for you!


Sometimes it's sad being a lefty...

#10 Fuzzy

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 08:08 AM

Jahloon, what happened? I put full size (flat wound) bass strings on a kids guitar and it worked. Well nothing too bad happened, it just sounded kind of shit but I always thought it would due to the size of the guitar. Here's a photo of it next to my normal guitar and the fretless, to get an idea of the size difference.

 

DSC04128.jpg

 
Whilst it "worked" it would go out of tune easily, from memory some notes were a bit shoddy but I played a gig with it once so it mustn't have been terrible. Or I had enough effects to hide it haha. 
 
 
Thanks for the link Liquids, that looks like an awesome resource! I'll have to sit down and spend some time reading through it, I had a glance at it but I'll look longer when I get more time. 
 
Yeah I realised with the fretless bass and the piccolo strings that I wouldn't be able to tune them to standard tuning, which is why I was hoping that the fanned fret might eliminate that problem. The tuning I'm after with the fanned fret would be E B G D A (Guitar) then A E/D on the bass. But that's the dream. If i could get the 2 bass strings on it and then find some alternative tunings that work, I'd be happy to do that, say DADGAAD tuning or something. 
 
The bass neck on the 6 was too wide and uncomfortable, but I tried a squire bass VI the other day and it was great. I would have gotten it but it's not quite what I'm after, it really is a bass guitar with 2 higher strings IMO. I tried a baritone as well, but it's just a guitar tuned deeper, doesn't have actual bass strings on it. I think I'm pretty sold on the charlie hunter type machine, it's just finding a builder that can make something similar with 7 strings that's fretless (with lines, I'm random but not that crazy!). 
 
I like the sound of what you were trying to do too. I hope you haven't given up on the dream, but it sounds like a lot of work. I'll be going the easy option and finding a builder I think, I know I'm not great at building things and I'd rather something that costs a bit more but works than something that I've laboured over and stuffed up completely. That's not even considering the wiring job inside if it's got 2 outputs. At the moment I'm going to sit tight and see what an Ormsby semi-custom means, as they are an option coming out this year. If it's "stock" stuff with some things custom, then I'm set. Then again, this thing probably isn't very "stock".  


#11 jahloon

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 09:10 AM

 

 

Jahloon, what happened? I put full size (flat wound) bass strings on a kids guitar and it worked. Well nothing too bad happened, it just sounded kind of shit but I always thought it would due to the size of the guitar. Here's a photo of it next to my normal guitar and the fretless, to get an idea of the size difference.

 

Well the tension difference when tuned up just did not work, put the old strings back on and it was fine....


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

#12 Liquids

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Posted 27 April 2016 - 01:08 PM

From this article/interview with Charlie Hunter: http://www.guitarpla...tic-roots/23078

 

 

"What’s the scale length?

29" on the bottom string, 25.5" on the top."

 

and

 

"What’s your tuning?

I’ve changed it a few times. I’d spent so much time on the 8-string trying to have the whole bass and guitar range, wanting to keep it in E. It was hard. That low E was always so floppy, because the scale length wasn’t long enough. I tuned the 7-string up to F for a while. I made a record called Baboon Strength in that tuning, and it worked pretty well.

But now I just don’t care anymore whether people think I’m a bass player. I want to make everything really personal and let this instrument do what it’s supposed to do. I tuned it up a minor third—with the low string up to G—and suddenly realized this is where this thing should sit. So, from low to high—G, C, F, C, F, Bb, D. It’s essentially the lower three strings of a bass and the middle four of a guitar, all tuned up a minor third. There’s more continuity now between the guitar and the bass. [...]"

 

 

 

Keep in mind, a guitar or a bass VI type instrument is going to have string spacing and necks not unlike a guitar.  String spacing will be about 10.5mm from string to string at the bridge, and a fairly typical 6 string guitar neck.

 

Most bass bridges are spaced for about 18mm string to string, and rarely less than 15mm.  Obviously this has a huge impact on not just string spacing feel, but the neck width, etc.

 

Keep experimenting!  It's good you aren't undertaking building this yourself (I suspect).  However, if you're going to sink money into an instrument like this, make sure you get what you want.  It took me a bit of time to figure things out...I defretted 2 junker instruments, and did a lot of experiments with string gauges, tunings, calculating string tension (at a scale length, tuned to a given pitch), and with different scale lengths, etc., to arrive at what I feel will work best for what I am interested in.


Sometimes it's sad being a lefty...




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