An ebow is a great combination with a fretless guitar. It’s not easy to play but it has a unique sound – almost like a ‘pseudo slide guitar’. it allows for non-chromatic slides, which isn’t possible on a regular fretted guitar. I’m hoping to use it as something of a ‘signature sound’ on my upcoming ambient guitar project (to be released at the end of 2018). It has made me learn some new things, as I can’t play the usual ‘licks and riffs’ on it (as I tend to on a regular guitar), which is somewhat refreshing !
Regarding non-ebow playing, a fretless guitar doesn’t sustain like a regular guitar does and playing with spot on intonation gets tricky (particularly higher up the fingerboard) All round, I find it’s a challenge to play, but very interesting nonetheless. With fretless in general, legato lines become very fluid and vibrato becomes much more of a musical parameter.
Here’s my Samick / Greg Bennett guitar, now converted to fretless. It had fret issues and I was about to ditch it, but before I did, I thought I’d have a go at converting it to fretless. I bought a dedicated fret pulling tool, which took the frets our pretty cleanly, then applied five coats (or so) of super glue to thew fingerboard, then a radiused sanding block to sand down the super glue flat (going through a few grit grades of wet and dry). Lastly, a rub down with a polishing compound. It’s not perfect (I think the neck may be slightly warped), but it’s now functional.
Guitars, repetition and learning.
I’m currently playing the guitar a lot more for one of my upcoming projects and I’ve noticed how much I tend to repeat myself in my playing. if I don’t monitor what I’m doing I go into ‘auto pilot’ and play very old (to me) riffs, licks and patterns. While it could be said that that is part of one’s style, it could also be seen as not exploring new areas / falling into well worn habits. So I’m trying to do some new things, particularly in my solo playing. One thing that helps is actually just playing more ! I find the ‘improvisational brain’ tends to work better when it becomes more used, as well as do the motor skills required to undertake what said brain requires. This is an issue for me in that I’m over 50 now and I just don’t have the ‘chops’ that I had when I was younger, but I can still see the benefit of recent practice, in this area. I feel that guitar playing is a ‘perishable skill’ in a lot of ways and long breaks from playing make for a longer time to get back into some kind of fluency.
In a wider sense, being aware of habitual repetitions and the like applies to music making in general (as well as one’s personality) and observing these habitual behaviours and then (more importantly !) endeavouring to do something to try to change them.
Anyway, here’s a video of me noodling – with some ‘fresh’ (I hope) variants ! I haven’t done any guitar videos for quite some time now (almost three years) and I’m now more fluent, currently. More to come on my YouTube channel.