Fretless, 29,9", aluminium

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by mister V, May 9, 2013.

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  1. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    Hi all. No unnecessary words, I know what everyone likes here, pictures first.

    Photobucket slideshow: AFB Slideshow by Valery_Chizh | Photobucket

    And some photos right here:

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    Next to 34" Washburn XB125 for comparison:
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    After failing two attempts to finish my fretless tele project (there is a thread with both unfinished teles here), I decided to take a little break with woodworking. But before the comlplete cleaning of my working area I looked in the corner where usually stands my various aluminium profiles (I use them as guides for my router) and was stricken by an idea of the thing that you can see on the pictures above.

    Specs are:
    -Aluminium neck (through), body and fretboard (all is glued up except the "headstock', where were some serious problems with gluing so some extra screws were used)
    -Fretless, only with "zero" fret right after the nut
    -29,9" scale length (first idea was about 27", but then I thought "what the hell" and measured 29,9")
    -Grover 3+3 tuners
    -Gotoh hardtail bridge, strings through body, no ferrules regarding to the body's material
    -DiMarzio DropSonic in the bridge position
    -One volume and one 2 pos. mini switch with "on/off" function

    Strung up with 5 strings from "DR DropDownTuning" + one bass string, don't know the exact gauge of the last one. Tuned up to somewhere around drop-F#, didn't use the tuner yet.

    There are serious problems with instument's weight balance, didn't attached a strap yet, but the headstock is too heavy and the neck too long for such a small "body".

    An interesting thing is that DiMarzio is in there forever or till the instrument will break in pieces, because I mounted it during gluing up the body and there is no way to take it out now.
     
  2. pestilentdecay

    pestilentdecay SS.org Regular

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    Awesome, any sound clips/video?
     
  3. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    Thanks! I think I'll make something in the next few days.

    First problem is that I play through Line 6 Spider 30 and don't have anything except it at the moment, second problem is that it is my first fretless guitar, never played anything fretless before, so I have to get used to it, strange feel. I need to make little fretmarks on the upper side of the fretboard to see where should I put my finger if I want to hear the exact note.
     
  4. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Impressed. Semi-speachless, so just a barrage of questions:
    • How thick is the neck?
    • How wide at the nut?
    • How's the aluminum as a fingerboard?
    • How's the relief?
    • Do you think you'll need a truss rod?

    Ray
     
  5. Necromagnon

    Necromagnon SS.org Regular

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    No wood = no sustain.


    Nice improvised instrument, dude! I really like those crazy projects!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    I'm glad you liked it :)

    -Thickness is 18,5 mm throughout the whole neck

    -Nut is 44 mm

    -Neck relief... Well, the neck itself is an aluminium square tube 30 mm width and 15 mm thick, with very slightly rounded edges (just to prevent fingers cutting), and a "fretboard" is glued up to this tube. Can't say that neck is uncomfortable - I'm alright with it, but I don't go up higher than where 12th fret must be locating regarding my playing skills - only simple rhythm things :)

    -Neck under the string tension is dead straight, so I think I don't need a truss rod here. Strings height at the end of the fretboard (that ends right near the pickup) is 5 mm, and it is a zero fret at the nut, so the action is pretty low in my opinion, but it's just me. Anyway, I'm ok with all the things regarding neck and action. (To get this 5 mm at the end of the fretboard I recessed the bridge.)
     
  7. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    It has normal sustain on open notes (because of zero fret, I think) but lacks it through all the fretboard, but I think that the reason is in fretless-ness and soft fingertips :) Never played fretless instruments though, maybe they should have a normal sustain in every position on the board...
     
  8. Daf57

    Daf57 5 7s in 4ths

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    Very interesting project! In for the updates! :)
     
  9. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    Aluminium is very friction-sensitive, strings left marks on it even when you just push the string to fretboard, and more visible marks with slides and bends. So if i want to keep this thing alive, it will be necessary to protect the board with polyurethane or epoxy later.

    Oh, and unplugged instrument doesn't sounds at all compared with "normal" guitars. Well, there is a light sound of course, but you get what I mean.
     
  10. OfArtAndArsenal

    OfArtAndArsenal SS.org Regular

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    Wait, so you put the zero fret BEHIND the nut?
     
  11. yingmin

    yingmin Parker über alles

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    Huh. I didn't notice it until you pointed it out, but it looks like that's the case. Doesn't that, to some extent, defeat the purpose of having a zero fret?

    Also, it looks like the nut is installed at a significant angle, while the bridge is straight.
     
  12. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    [​IMG]

    There you can see the "zero fret". I installed it to have the proper string height for all strings at the nut, so the slotted plastic nut is just for holding strings in their position without slipping aside, and the fret holds the downward pressure and make the proper strings' heights. I guess it is not the "zero fret" literally - if so, I apologize, my mistake and my poor english :)

    Plastic nut can be slightly angled - only the fret that is next to him have to be straight in my case.
     
  13. yingmin

    yingmin Parker über alles

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    Okay, that changes everything. What I (and presumably the previous poster) took to be the zero fret behind the nut was apparently just the edge of the fretboard. I couldn't see the actual zero fret from the pictures, hence also my concern about the slanted nut.
     
  14. ihunda

    ihunda SS.org Regular

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    My carbon fiber chapman stick is proof that this isn't true!
    Resonance = loss of energy = loss of sustain
     
  15. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    Ah, I guess you didn't watch my photobucket's album, the link is in my first post. All the pictures are there, and here I posted just few for those who don't like threads without pics (and who likes?).
     
  16. Necromagnon

    Necromagnon SS.org Regular

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    The 1st line of my comment was 56465454% troll. :lol:
     
  17. OfArtAndArsenal

    OfArtAndArsenal SS.org Regular

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    Yeah ok I see what you did now. Zero fret is the right word, I just didn't see it in the pictures and also you said
    so I was confused. Now I'm not.

    Very creative. Nice work.
     
  18. pondman

    pondman Build Whore. Contributor

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    Very much likey :yesway:
     
  19. tmo

    tmo This is Blue Pain..t

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    Hi

    First, that is a seriously nice project.

    However, I found some things that may help you rethink the whole concept, and those are directly related to ergonomics of a fretless or defreted guitar, or, in other words, with its setup.

    On a fretted guitar, the guitarist's left hand (for regular players) fingers are not in direct contact with the string vibration, meaning that strings' height becomes subjective to the players taste. This does not happens on a fretless, so you will need the strings as close to the board as possible. The reason is just plain geometry: the higher strings are, the bigger angle they'll make from NUT, "fretted" position and bridge. This angle should be as close as possible to 180º, or you will loose in sustain and tone directly. Therefore, at the nut, strings should be slightly over the board level. That zero fret becomes, in this way of thought, a huge mistake. Over the board, at 12th fret, strings should be just high enough to allow for some vibration arch, so you can achieve a good clean sound without board buzz, which, in fretless universe, delivers an interesting tone option.

    So, over all, you should get rid off that zero fret and try to set your guitar up in order to find your comfy zone.

    Traditionally, fretless guitar strings are flatwound and there are no bends, just slides... try those, they're a new approach to good tone, for if there are only slides, its squish from fingers sliding up and down the string becomes too much in a short time, and you'll add the benefit of leaving the fingerboard less marked.

    So, after all this testament, please do not get me wrong, I do not want to lower your achievement, only to alert you to some problems I have encountered when I adventured into fretless world.

    Let me conclude this short comment with some links:
    unfretted resources - mandatory to check this link out

    - I don't like his fretless tone, but he is a reference in this subject
    - this one is much more interesting...
    - ... as is this one here

    ... my unperfect tunes...
    - full improvise to test the guitar
    - one tune...
    - improvise over a back track someone sent me to solo over...

    ... and all videos from these guys:





    ... and so on...
     
  20. mister V

    mister V SS.org Regular

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    Thank you for such a detailed answer! I'm totally new to the fretless world. Very helpful tips. I'll watch the videos later.

    As you can see from the pictures, my project is not really serious - just made the thing using my aluminum square tubes that stood in the corner. I was very curious about the fretless sounding of roundwounds with DropSonic. I am not a skillful player even with fretted instruments (simple rhythm things and tabs, I have to sit down and start to study guitar playing seriously finally).

    Edit: "a sheet of paper cannot be wedged between the string and nut area" (taken from here). Oh man, now I see. I thought the zero fret will give me the exact strings height at the nut.
     

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