Ned Evett's Fretless Guitar Blog: Fretless Guitar, Delta Style!

My name is Ned Evett. I play fretless guitars exclusively, modifying them with mirrored glass fingerboards.

When playing the fretless guitar, the material the fingerboard is made of greatly affects the overall tone; this same effect is found when using different types of slide (brass, glass, bone, etc.) on slide guitar.

Playing fretless guitar is a lot like playing slide guitar; just remember your left hand fingers take the place of a conventional slide.

I started playing Delta blues on a fretless resonator in 2003; I equipped it with one of my signature fretless glass fingerboards. After converting it, I toured solo opening for Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani and also a duo project with Franck Vigroux. My new album, Treehouse (which was produced by Adrian Belew), features a fretless resonator on a number of tracks.

My current fretless resonator of choice is a Republic Highway 61 (also with a glass fingerboard) outfitted with a Highlander pickup. Live, I run the pickup through an ART tube leveler into a Line 6 DL4 looper delay, then into a Trace Elliot TA 300.

I apply Indian sarod techniques to fretless guitar, incorporating LEFT-hand nail slides into the mix. I began adapting this technique in 1993 trying to coax more sustain out of a fretless 12-string. When you apply left-hand nail technique (on the plain strings, especially) you get a singing tone as the nail glides along the string; this is helpful on an acoustic instrument where you can't just crank the distortion to get sustain.

I use this approach in the video example below, playing Robert Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day."

Next time around we'll break out the fretless electric guitar and show you how to channel Muddy Waters and Ravi Shankar simultaneously!

Visit Ned Evett at his official website, and read more about him on

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