In my video example for this week, I play some bluesy/Indian runs on a fretless, glass-necked guitar I custom-modified for John Frusciante.
This interesting job, which I completed in September 2006, was arranged by Frusciante's guitar tech, Dave Lee.
I took a Warmouth vintage replacement neck, outfitted it with a glass fretless fingerboard and attached it to the 1959 Fender hardtail Strat body John provided.
The original neck was safely removed, and no modifications to the original guitar were made. I only had a chance to check it out for about 10 minutes before it shipped. I wish I would have had more time to play it!
I love playing blues on fretless guitars and also introducing elements of Indian raga, humbly trying to channel both Muddy Waters and Ravi Shankar, two of my all-time favorite musicians. Although I play electric blues in standard tuning, I approach bluesy string bending in a different manner, getting the tension going with linear movement of the note up and down the length of the string (Remember, on fretless guitar it's called a fingerboard, not a fretboard).
The resulting tone is similar to a conventional string bend, but the extra possibilities a fretless instrument creates are wide open. Sequences of intervals smaller than a minor second are possible, as are wide intervallic leaps of an octave and beyond.
Next week we go back to the beginning, a breakdown of my first album, An Introduction to Fretless Guitar, from 1999 -- and an introduction to fretless sustainer playing.
Photo: Gregg Roth