Would like an opion on going fretless

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fretless   has  many  benefits  .

in   building  , it  is  easier  , plain and simple .

 it  can  ad  to  cool  neck  designs  / options  /  material  without   hurting  performance    (if  used for slide  only  ).

most  fretless  can  be  fingered   also    , if action is low   enough , and surface is  flat   . 

and  in my opinion  ..   it's  just  plain  cooler  ..    like the chopper  of  motorcycles  .

some   will  say   that     a player is  limited  by  them  ,,  but  as another   discussion  on   here  points out  ,,    it   is  usually  the player that is  limited   , or stuck in a pattern   of   using frets  . 

some will  say   people that can't  build    properly  will  make    fretless  or slider    guits  .  ( this   is usually   coming from    builders  that only  make, and  are selling , fretted   models  . )    go  figure  .  ;-) its more of a  pissing contest  statement  in my opinion  . 

much to  my  surprise  ,, i  added    fretted      swamp witches    to  my   line  ,  thinking  they would sell  better    due to  the  option  of slide and fingering .

the  fretless still sell way  better  .

so  much so  ,  i  don't  offer  fretted ones anymore  .

bottom  line  ,  the choice  is  yours  . 

fretted  has  its  benefits also  ..  so     if  you  find    a  target audience    or  a  personal  preference  .. act on it  .  it  should   bloom  either way . 



This was a great response, btw. As a newbie here these questions are really important to me. and you answered it with intelligence and thoughtfulness that really helps folks like me.

I just wanted to say thank you for that.

Also, as a newbie builder AND player, do you suggest that i put frets on my build even though it is added steps and more work because it will be easier to learn on? Or do you think fretless can be self-taught just as well? Just curious what you suggest and think.



hey  ,  thanx  for the  kind words ,

different  people , learn   different stuff , differently   ;-)

..  you  might    try  slide guitar or  fretless  and   find you are a natural  . 

in my opinion  , i would build  both  ,  and see  which   one fits  you  best   in  playing and  building  abilities  . availability  of    proper tools  may be an  issue  also.( fretting  involves    measurments  and   cutting  ,   leveling  etc..  that  can  cause   issues down the road if  off a bit) .

keep  in mind  if  you  get good at slide  ,,  you  can   slide  on any  regular  guit  with  low  action  also  .

but  it  may be hard  to  finger   frets  on a   high action  slider  ,, and your  intonation  would    be  off  .

  you  can     build a fretted  slider      with  action    in  about the mid   range   and adjust    intonation  with a    floating  bridge etc  . but that   takes  some skill and luck in  building also. 

in my  opinion  . slide  is easier to  learn  .   you  may think   different  ..   i'd  try  both  .

make a slider  first   ,, play  with it  and  have some fun ..  then    make a fretter  ..  and   see  if the  same happens   .. or  if its  more  fun  .. or  less .    then  maybe   if  you like  both  ..     make a fretted slider .   lots  of   folks  here   will  be happy  to  help  you  along the   way     with  questions  concerning       string height    and   intonation  etc ..   no  matter  what you decide  .  ;-)


ps.... as  per  fretless    ( played     by  fingering notes   on  the plain fretboard   and  not  sliding  much or  at   all)  you  may  find  it  has a duller  sound  .   material   choice  will  makes some difference   ..  harder  woods  etc..  but  in  general  ..  fretless   usually   has a  duller   lightly  muted  sound   that you may  or may not  like .



Pick, dat is are tick you lut at heck.   Well sed.

tanks unk  ;-)

Why not make both?

Start with a fretless, learn to play slide-only... then build a fretted one, changing the things you didn't like about the first?

I have 2 fretless and one fretted right now... the problem is I can't seem to keep them... they keep running away with my friends!

I started with fretless then got adventurous and started fretting - I probably go a little high on my action just to make sliding more forgiving.
I'm not much of a player yet so I hardly ever finger (fret)?? above the 5 but I like the versatility it affords.  I like the fretless to use a stubby slide for the sounds you can get that way as well - I have lost count of how many of each I've built so what the heck! Try everything!!!

I come from a standard guitar background. So fretted four string is what I understand and what I tend to build. My son plays slide fairly well. If he were building he would probably have a different take.

The direction I am going this year is to try for a decent 6 and 12 string. Just one of those things that has to be done. I still want to do a Sherwin Williams dobro.

So one is not better than the other. I think it is building more in synch with your tendancies as a player makes you comfortable. In building for selling, I think this in part also holds true. You have to build for what your market understands. If you sell locally, this could really impact what you build. Selling world wide would let one harvest a thinner market. I find here, that people have no history with anything less than six strings. There is no history of either CBG's or ukes. The closest would be a mandolin in the bluegrass set. My buyers have been mixed between early adopters looking for something different and mothers/girlfirends/boyfriends looking for a quirky gift.

Just to add my .02€...

I maintain a "reasonable" 3:3 fretless-to-fretted ratio. Both have their advantages and drawbacks.

Fretless is easier to build, a bit harder to play without slide (you'll need to build up your finger muscles for "fretting" the strings, but it's still doable. And quite rewarding). Chords are possible on a 3 or 4 fretless _guitar_. It doesn't matter when playing fretless bass - you seldom play chords on thick strings. You can play a bit more on the "legato" side. Vibrato along the string. 

Fretted (especially with lower string action) could be a PITA when playing with a slide. On the plus side: chords, even with 6 fretted strings are easier. Artificial harmonics are possible/easier. You can play faster solos. Vibrato along the fret.

Myself I like playing slide best on fretless.  The slide clicking on the frets is distracting to me.  If this is your first build I would suggest fretless - it is much easier.  Maybe don't even mark the frets, just mark the 3rd, 5th 7th & 12th fret placement on the side.

About half my builds have been fretted.  Some potential players don't get their arms around slide at all.

Whichever you decide, you will likely build another the other way soon.


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