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--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: Fretless instruments
Category: Guitars
From: Michael  Maslowski (Poland)

Hello Pat, I have been recently wondering about ordering a fretless guitar at some luthier designer and I would just like to know your opinion about this instrument. As an experienced artist you have had an opportunity to play it. My instrument is about to be a solid body guitar, but I ohnestly admit that I am very unsure about the accuracy of my choice. From one hand the idea of a string instrument without frets, with several abilities to make 'infinitive' glissandos grabs my attention and takes my breath away.On the other hand I hesitate a little bit, because I will have problems with tuning, sustain,etc. I kindly request for your respected advice, which will surely help me.

Thanks, Best wishes Michael

Pat’s Answer:

i would say "don't do it" based on your question. it is really, really hard - the sustain thing is iffy at best, better on a solid body, but still hard to count on as the weather changes etc. intonation is really difficult - it requires a very special kind of discipline. i could do nothing but focus on the fretless, and even then, it would take me decades to get to achieve the standard of intonation expected of even an average violin or cello player. but if you do go ahead and do it - good luck, and practice a lot with pitched accompaniament - otherwise you are just kidding yourself!!!