Curious about what it'd be like to Play a fretless guitar, I
converted a garage-sale Crestwood nylon string guitar into a
fretless guitar in just a few minutes.

A few notes on fret removal:
I placed a small block of hardwood at the end of a fret and with a 
small hammer, carefully tapped out the fret - sliding it in it's
groove. On this guitar, the frets were not glued in. If they had
been, I'd have first heated up the fret carefully with a small
soldering iron before tapping them out. The heat helps loosen the

The "proper" way to proceed would be to fill in each fret groove 
with either epoxy or a thin strip of hardwood & epoxy. I intended 
to do this, but after a bit of playing, decided that the fret 
grooves could be left as is - unfilled. They don't in the least 
affect the sliding or sound, nor do they buzz. They serve a couple 
of purposes -- they indicate proper finger position and can even 
be slightly felt under your finger, which further helps proper 
finger positioning. I'd suggest lightly sanding down the neck with 
a piece of sandpaper attached to a block of wood, to take off any 
irregularities around the fret grooves.

I found that slight irregularities in the fingerboard itself posed 
no problem in my case. Even though my action is quite low, the 
bridge height raised each string amply above the fingerboard and 
thus easily compensated for these irregularities. There were no 
buzzes. However, if such irregularities do prove troublesome, the 
sandpaper/board method cures this easily. Just work slow and 
carefully and evenly.

Nylon strings suit me fine. I have long preferred nylon for 
playing blues. Nylon strings on this fretless guitar are a 
"natural". Despite the lower three being wound, they slip and 
slide beautifully. The lack of frets does noticeably dampen the 
string's vibration, but not at all objectionably so. The thing is 
very much fun to play. One major recommendation about playing: 
DON'T THINK CHORDS. While chords can be played on a fretless 
guitar, it's often not pretty, nor is it easy. I find that two- 
note chords are not that hard however. Also a melody note played 
against an open string sounds very nice.

Given the fretless guitar is not at all unwieldy and certainly
opens up another whole ballgame in guitar playing, I am at a loss
to understand just why they are not more popular! 

In a guitar "rut"? Give the fretless guitar a try.

Dennis Havlena
Mackinac Straits

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