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Wanting a fretless Gibson SG

#1 User is offline   les fret 

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:21 PM

Hi,

I am new to this forum. I play fretless bass, guitar and double bass. So wanting to dive into fretless guitar territories isn't a grazy thought for me.
I was thinking about defretting (or having defret) a Gibson SG. I have several (noob) questions on this:

1) Is it better to buy a guitar with an ebony neck? or is better to use epoxy on the fingerboard? in the last case I don't think the fingerboard wood does matter?
2) how much will a luthier generally charge for a defret job?
3) what gauge strings are mostly used for fretless guitar? and do they need to be flatwound? or will normal string also do the job without eating the fingerbaord too much?
4) do you prefer fretlines or not? and why?
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#2 User is online   jahloon 

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:39 PM

Welcome Les!

To try and answer the questions:

1 - Ebony is best. No experience of epoxy, if used the wood would be less important. Give a thought to replacing the entire fingerboard, not as difficult as it seems.

2 - The trouble is finding a luthier that will take you seriously and know how to set up a fretless

3 - I like heavier gauges but others go for light strings. Flat wound are kinder to the fingerboard, and also have the advantage of being fairly friction free if you are sliding your fingers a lot.

4 - Fretlines are good to tell where the notes are, but a plain fingerboard looks very cool.
Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
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#3 User is offline   les fret 

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 01:36 PM

Your answers are just what I thought myself. It is good to see them confirmed. I have a luthier who has experience with fretless guitars. I have to get a reply back from him.
I think the best is to find a SG with an ebony fingerboard then. Epoxy is very hard and will not wear out much but it has different sound, on bass that is. Don't know if epoxy is used a lot for fretless guitar boards.

I have had both unlined and lined necks on bass. But I prefer a lined neck now. Unlined looks better but a lined neck is much easier on the intonation.
Especially if you also want to be able to play some small chords.
On my double bass I have and unlined neck but that is a totally different instrument of course.
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#4 User is offline   Newbie Brad 

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:31 PM

If you fill the fret-slots of your present fingerboard, try to glue some wood strips such as body binding decoration wood into the slots, in a contrasting color to the fingerboard.

But you might consider the complete fingerboard replacement since many luthiers can do that and you will have a smoother board, without so much effort. It might even be possible to save the old fingerboard complete with all frets and binding by this way. With a replacement unslotted fingerboard, position markers or even a mark for each fret can be painted or inlaid on the side edge of the fingerboard.

Some players like heavy strings and flatwound strings. I use light roundwound ones. Ernie Ball Super Slinky Roundwound. .009 E treble string. With such a set, I doubt roundwound strings will ever hurt my fretless guitars fingerboards. Many years ago I used Ernie Ball Power Slinkies Roundwound, .011 E treble string. Those roundwound strings also never hurt my fretless guitars.
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#5 User is offline   Kai 

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 05:08 PM

Quote

With a replacement unslotted fingerboard, position markers or even a mark for each fret can be painted or inlaid on the side edge of the fingerboard.



Neither my Godins nor my Strat have fretlines. (The Godins have fret-type marks on the side, the Strat, which has a Warmoth replacement neck installed by previous owner Tom Baker, has only dot markers on the side.) I find their side markings more than sufficient as reference. After a while you'll find that your motor memory guides your intonation pretty well anyway. I can sometimes play with my eyes closed. Any intonation skill violinists, cellists, etc. can develop we can too. (Truth be told, I think my intonation is better than some career string players I know.)

One advantage of a unlined board, since your audience can't usually see the side markings, is that it makes you look even more impressive than otherwise ("How is he finding the notes?!")
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#6 User is offline   les fret 

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 02:52 PM

View PostKai, on 09 February 2012 - 05:08 PM, said:

One advantage of a unlined board, since your audience can't usually see the side markings, is that it makes you look even more impressive than otherwise ("How is he finding the notes?!")


You are right. An unlined fretboard looks better and more impressive. But I think most people will play much more in tune with fretlines and that's more important than looks.
I think fretlines will help your intonation a lot when you want to play small chords or double stops.
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#7 User is offline   Kai 

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:50 AM

View Postles fret, on 12 February 2012 - 02:52 PM, said:

View PostKai, on 09 February 2012 - 05:08 PM, said:

One advantage of a unlined board, since your audience can't usually see the side markings, is that it makes you look even more impressive than otherwise ("How is he finding the notes?!")


You are right. An unlined fretboard looks better and more impressive. But I think most people will play much more in tune with fretlines and that's more important than looks.
I think fretlines will help your intonation a lot when you want to play small chords or double stops.


You're right about chords & double stops - I rarely do those in my style. (No chords in Indian music.) While the side marks are enough to guide one finger at a time, there's a lot more to position in relation to them when doing two or more notes. (I've noticed that string players who do double stops and chords tend to get away with a lot more dodgy intonation, but guitar brings with it an expectation of precise intonation that violin. etc., doesn't. Which reminds me of the viola joke: what do you call two violists playing a unison? A minor second.)

It's probably still possible after a long time to do them without looking, but, yes, the motor memory challenge is much greater. Tim Donahue and Gazza both could probably say a lot more about that.
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#8 User is online   jahloon 

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:16 AM

View PostKai, on 14 February 2012 - 04:50 AM, said:

Which reminds me of the viola joke: what do you call two violists playing a unison? A minor second.)

It's probably still possible after a long time to do them without looking, but, yes, the motor memory challenge is much greater. Tim Donahue and Gazza both could probably say a lot more about that.

The sheer number of viola jokes in the classical world runs only second to drummer jokes in the rock world. (must investigate why)

See Tim Donahue's section on chords in his tutorial published on Unfretted.

The lines will give you a guide esp. with chords but they can be a double edged sword. As an example, in a major chord in just intonation the third will be 14 cents flat of the actual fret line position. So its fine to use finger shapes where the third is slightly flat. If it is sounded slightly sharp it is a little offensive. So some chord intervals will stand being a little "out" while others will stick out like a sore thumb.

In time you will find your ear will guide your intonation with single notes and chords.

Or you could buy a viola
Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
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#9 User is offline   Kai 

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:42 AM

View Postjahloon, on 14 February 2012 - 10:16 AM, said:

....only second to drummer jokes in the rock world.


"Whaddaya call a guy who hangs out with musicians?" (My personal favourite, despite having played with some consummate musicians who are drummers.)
[i]"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..."[/i] - Hunter S. Thompson
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#10 User is offline   les fret 

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 09:13 AM

I am getting a fretless Vigier to loan soon. Just to try out and maybe to buy when I like it. What would be a good price for it? Not sure exactly which model.
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#11 User is online   jahloon 

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

Vigiers saw a huge price rise in the UK around 2005 so the price went from 1200 GBP to around 1750 then climbed to around 2200.

I think it was really to put Vigier firmly into the boutique area of guitars along with Suhr etc.

Not a bad thing because Vigiers are absolutely first class instruments and were possibly underpriced compared to similar quality instruments.

The value of the instrument is down to what the seller wants for it. Recently I've had two Vigiers were the sellers wanted 2000+ GBP and I would consider that way too high in the present economic climate.

I bought mine for 800 GBP in 2004, which I reckoned was a fair price from a retail shop.

If I had to replace it with a second hand model I would not want to pay more than 1200 GBP and considerably less if the manufacture date was pre 2004.

Additionally the new models are now on the market with new metal boards that require less maintenance.

Not played one yet so could not say wether this would decrease the price of older delta metal models.

Either way the Vigier is one of the best fretless guitar you can purchase.
Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
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#12 User is offline   les fret 

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:50 AM

ok, thanks. I will have it for loan next week or so.
The guy who sells it doesn't like the feel of the metal fingerboard. I have heard this from other users as well.
So I am curious if I will like it. Can't wait!
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