Fretless Classical Guitar - they have a classical guitar for sale and will convert classical guitars to fretless:
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Posted 08 October 2015 - 02:56 PM
Fretless Classical Guitar - they have a classical guitar for sale and will convert classical guitars to fretless:
Posted 10 October 2015 - 11:43 PM
Actually I am looking for a nice classical fretless guitar right now. I have informed with some respectable luthiers who have made custom made hand build fretless classical guitars before and this is what one of them aswered. He makes very nice guitars. I won't reveal who it is because it is a private message. He says it is better to have one custom made instead of converting a fretted one to fretless because the neck of a fretless one needs a different angle and the bracing is different. Never thought of it that way but it is interesting. What do you guys think? Not sure what he mean by ' the proximity of the key wires is very important'?
1)The price of guitars produced by me are €2500. (The wood options are indian rosewood or flame maple, the soundboard are cedar or spruce, the fretboard is ebony, the neck is houndras mahogany and the type of finish is frenchpolish). 2) In fact, the bracing system, the soundboard thickness and neck angle must be considered for sustain and best of tone before the type of wood. Additionally, the proximity to key wires is very important for the fretless guitar. Therefore, the neck angle must be given while you stick the neck. Once we consider all these reasons to convert your guitar would not be the solution. I would kindly recommend you to get a new fretless guitar.
Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:34 AM
I think the proximity of the key wires refers to the action, or height of the strings above the fingerboard, a key thing for a good fretless guitar.
Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:46 AM
I think it is doubtful if a fretless classical / acoustic guitar will need a different type of bracing and soundboard thickness. The most important factor for these is string tension and that will not changes that much.
If you really consider to buy a custom made fretless from this luthier, you can ask what differences in bracing and soundboard he will make, compared to a fretted version.
Posted 12 October 2015 - 07:49 AM
(somehow the qouting doesn't work for me?)
@Jahloon: I am not sure what he mean with key wires?
@Broomy: Yes I am also not sure if a different bracing or neck angle is needed for fretless. But I trust his expertise on this one since he has made several fretless classical guitars. Maybe it is for better sustain or something? 2500 euros is a bit too much for me. I know that is a normal price for a top quality classical guitar and most handmade ones are even more expensive. But to order a guitar unseen for that money is too much risk for me. I want a classical fretless guitar with an unlined ebony board and with side lines on all 'frets' just like my Vigier has. So in that case you will need a complete new fingerboard anyway.
Posted 12 October 2015 - 09:16 AM
Sorry about the quote button, it got broke in the last upgrade, and I've tried everything to fix it to no avail. (The Like button is broke too...)
@key wires: I guess this guy is Turkish?
Posted 12 October 2015 - 09:24 AM
Yes he is Turkish.
Posted 12 October 2015 - 09:45 AM
You could buy a medium prized guitar and let some guitarguy do a unfretjob.
My guess is that they can fill the fretsslots and that you couldn't see they where there.
I see that you're also from the Netherlands, I've been to Sjak Zwier once (for a electric guitar though) and would recommend him to do the job: http://www.zwierguitars.com/.
Posted 12 October 2015 - 10:05 AM
Thanks for the tip. Does he have experience in making a guitar fretless? also classical guitars? if you want an ebony board I think you have to replace the whole board I guess? since not many classical guitars have an ebony board I think (?). Also I want those sidelines.
Posted 12 October 2015 - 10:34 AM
I don't know if he has experience with unfretting / fretless jobs. But from a technical point of view, unfretting a guitar (and making sidelines) is a rather simple job, compared to repairing cranks, resetting necks and so forth, so experienced luthiers will be able to do this.
Google some luthiers and call them and discuss your wishes. You can also buy a guitar with a rosewood fretboard and replace it with ebony.
Whatever happens, keep us posted!
Posted 27 October 2015 - 08:22 PM
I've grown infatuated with fretless nylon string guitar of late - I think it's an excellent option! I've been collecting info, too. I will say, I'm not so into fretless electric guitar, sonically (sorry!).
Started with a REAL junker of a guitar, that a roomate had downstairs - a smaller sized -- 22.8in/580mm scale length (closer to ouds than guitars), but all laminate, and someone had steel string on it!
I removed all the frets swiftly with a soldering iron and strung it up with nylon strings, just to see if I would take to it.
JUNK as the guitar is, I sure did take to it. So since, I have removed/lowered the nut for low string action. I also sanded the saddle for lower string action. Likewise, I glued the bridge down as it was lifting and was being held down by screws only, the glue had dried.
I've read up on oud's and most have action of ~3mm @ what would be the 7th fret (the 5th). As the guitar has settled in, that's about where this guitar has landed, too. I could go lower on the bridge and nut a little, maybe, but it's not worth the time, it's OK for me for working on intonation while I await a local luthier to de-fret a better classical guitar fill the frets with veneer, and do approriate setup.
I've heard that 'angles' for action can be an issue - but on one hand, this is a guitar. I think the 'ideal' approach to some would be to maintain a high bridge saddle, replace the fretboard entirely with one that tapers (thicker by the body/neck joint, thinner by the nut) so as to have a makeshift 'neck angle.' Some (all?) ouds seem to have a bit of this, (Gibsons have this too, for instance). I keep mentioning ouds because the oud is what the fretless guitar seems closest too - fretless, nylon strings, similar scale. But how similar/different it is depends on what you want as it's not a 'standardized' instrument.
I'm going with the 'straight' neck, that is, a setup where the body and neck are more or less a straightedge, as the typical classical, and as aforementioned, going with the fret-removal and fill of an existing classical style guitar rather than other approaches. I've enjoyed the unresonant JUNK guitar with such mods so much, I personally don't see reason to try and make it any more like an oud.
One issue is string tension and string choice. Oud strings are REALLY low in tension, but there are 11 of them. From my estimates, there is a total of about 60-70lb (27-31kg) of total tension on most ouds. Classical guitar strings ususally range from about 85lb-100lb (39-45lb) of tension given a 650mm scale length (almost always longer than an oud).
I've done a lot of calculations and string expirimenting, and I like the sound of tuning the fretless down to C--like an arabic oud's lowest string or a cell--but maintaining guitar-style tuning (it's familiar). I can get about 65lb of tension with the right string set, tuned to C, on a classical guitar scale. So this might be one area where an 'ideal' builder might want to know more--do you plan do keep it tuned like a guitar, tune it lower, etc? For increased resonance, if you use a classical guitar but tune it like an oud, he could build the guitar for more resonance if you were going to be using lighter tension via light strings and/or lower tunings.
I am pretty picky about tonality in most areas. I personally feel like even the junker fretless I am currently using, which actually sounds acoustically dead compared to my classical guitars no matter how one or the other is tuned, still sounds surprisingly good alongside recordings of ouds and such that I have, keeping what it is/isn't in consideration while doing so. The major tonal difference seems to be in nylon (type) strings directly in contact with a fretboard under a certain range of overall tension, with a nod to the particular kind of nylon strings used. Variables like scale length, etc., will come into play, but the key tonality is nylon/fretless, from what I've found so far. And of course, how one plays it is key. I also think that while I originally wanted an oud--a good fretless nylon guitar seems to has some (major) advantages, especially living in the USA where instruments like oud range from uncommon to nowhere to be found, depending on location.
Fretless nylon string has a great sound, IMO, almost regardless of what you do with it--picked (like an oud), played with fingers/nails like a classical, tuned like a guitar, tuned like an oud, etc. You do loose apparent(?) sustain and crispness compared to fretted. If you don't like the sound of oud, and/or Cenk Erdogan (has a good website with some basic fretless guitar instruction, great playing with a turkish background), you won't care for it, but it's become my favorite instrument. I can't wait to have a GOOD sounding instrument in hand once the luthier is ready...for now, I'm playing and enjoying the fretless junker, but with the right tweaks, it's doing the deed, and my intonation and techniques continue to get better the more I play.
Highly ###### seeking out players like Simon Shaheen, Naseer Shamma, Yurdal Tokcan, Driss El Maloumi, etc if you are into the capabilities of fretless nylon. It does seem that most of the fretless classical guitar guys are coming from a middle-eastern background, from searching around and listening to what I can find of those with fretless nylon guitars...
Posted 27 October 2015 - 09:30 PM
Hi Liquids, and welcome!
A very interesting and valid post, I've only got two nylon strung fretless, The Godin Multiac and the Glissentar, both are great instruments for fretless. Nylon strung fretless is a great sound and you do have more "control" than with steel strings. The Multiac is usually in standard tuning and the Glissentar in D A D G A D.
Interesting you mention tuning down to C in standard guitar tuning, I guess that would be C F Bb Eb B C, how does the string control work out with that tuning? Vigier Surfretters are meant to be down tuned a whole tone to D, but many players tune them standard E A D G B E.
Interesting where you experiments will take you, and yes the tension is important, I only understand kilograms though....
Posted 28 October 2015 - 08:25 AM
I always tune my Vigier to standard E pitch and also use it for open tunings. I don't hear much difference in sustain or better sound when tuning lower.
@Jahloon. You are right about the Godin guitars. Although I don't like the sound of them so much. They have a sound of their own but don't sound like a real classical guitar. It misses the depth and they sound a bit thin in my opinion. I have owned a Godin acoustic steel and nylon string (no fretless).
Posted 28 October 2015 - 01:23 PM
Thanks for the complimentary comments.
I think with electric, the difference is more a matter of comfort/control. I would think of the steel string fretless guitars as being along the lines of a electric guitar with leanings toward the sarod, though of course notably different than both...though I also have no idea what kind of tension the steel strings on a sarod are under. I also know sarods are 'fretted' most often by a fretting hand fingernail to stop the strings along a metal fretboard. Side note: anyone try something like using 'alaska picks' with their vigier on the fretting finger? Could be interesting, or negligable different.
Tuning down to D makes sense on the vigier, as they also advise heavy strings, including a 'wound G'/3rd string, correct? So that would reduce the string tension given an increased mass/diameter of the strings.
Tension may be more important the more the instrument/top is genuinely 'acoustic' as in driven by the strings and is built 'around' holding up to that tension but remaining resonant. Less important in instruments (maybe like the Godins) where they are designed to have some acoustic sounding properties when amplified, but more to be loud without feedback--overbuilt rather than build to maximum responsiveness to the strings, acoustically.
String tension seems to be a really big factor in the sound of many instruments. I explored turkish baglama/saz instruments, and they utilize steel strings but at VERY low tension almost in all variations. On the other hand, the mandolin family seems to get a good dose of it chracteristic sound from using steel strings at rather high tensions, etc, to simplify. These are opposites extremes, but it seems that string tension--very high, very low, or medium--can be VERY significant in the tonality of an instrument, given all the other obvious and known ones (steel or gut/nylon based strings; metal frets, wood frets, nylon frets, no frets; scale length, etc.)...
Jahloon asked about string control with C on a nylon type guitar - I'm using d'addario carbon strings which have the most even, and comparatively high tension . Those string sets are easily available here, which helps too (FYI I have no afilliation with D'addario). On the short scale junker (580mm scale) I'm using the 'high tension' carbon strings and tuning to C# right now as, per my calculations, that yields similar tension to the 650mm scale guitar, strung with the d'addario carbon "normal tension' set, tuned to C. With a pick (oud style), this range seems about right under my fingers and to my ears. I am going to expiriment with the same carbon 'high tension' set on my fretted classical and see how they feel playing 'fingerstyle' and how much I can detune them before it feels odd--though the sound is great. Once the luthier has defretted the better quality classical guitar, I can see if I want more or less tension, but I think I'm more or less 'in the zone' that I want to be in terms of string tension balanced with tonality. I'm not a purist/classical guitarist playing classical music on the fretted classical by the way, but I also like the sounds of the classical/nylon string guitar for what I play, and I appreciate the classical and especially flamenco techniques as well as other stuff I've mentioned.
So the "carbon" strings mostly have a good string-to-string balance of tension for me -- I don't mind even slightly looser strings, while using a pick and for oud style (oud strings are under rather low amounts of tension, a little loose to get 'that' sound). But I also appreciate that the strings don't feel floppy, which I experience if I'm tuned too low or use strings with too light or more uneven string-to-string tension, etc. These seem to be notably higher in tension (46kg total @650mm scale) than many other string sets I've tried, which makes them feel more friendly to down-tuning as well. These use the flourocarbon nylon trebles, so the high strings are thinner than the more commonly used nylon classical string sets I've tried, which I also prefer for
I tune down as I have always wanted a good low C (C2 / deep C / lowest note on a cello) on an acoustic guitar, because it seems the lowest I've ever needed for a melodic (non-bass) acoustic instrument, while I've always felt that on acoustic, E@ 82hz and the lowest chord I could play being an E @82hz wasn't low enough, especially when solo. Cenk erdogan who I mentioned before, plays amazing fretless (and fretted) classical type guitar, but states, it is a guitar, and so he tunes to standard E. To each their own. For me, if I sit at the piano and play chords and such, I've noticed utiilize voicings with bass notes down to C@65hz, but rarely if ever any lower. So I've come to like an acoustic instrument to have that as a possibility, too. My electric guitars are in E though. The Notes below E@82hz down to C@65hz are very powerful, yet still distinct and usable melodically, in my opinion.
As it turns out, arabic-style ouds frequently use deep C as their lowest note as well when I started researching. Nylon string guitars/string sets somehow seem more suited to it than do steel string acoustic guitars. I had a ~0.70 steel roundwound bass string on my beat up steel string acoustic when I was expirimenting with trying to get a satisfying low C from it a while back (that guitar is a bit short scale, 630mm rather than 650mm+ though).
Lastly, to me it seems like the Godins are really designed as performing instruments built for working musicans to utilize on stage and still get 'convincing enough' acoustic instrument type sounds. I'd likely own more of them if more of them were available lefty and they were as easily avaialble used lefty as they are righty...but as a lefty...not as easy to come by if at all.
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