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C# and Db are not the same note.

I came across your webpage after going to Guitar Center looking for a good nylon string guitar and coming away disappointed.

The article here (C# AND Db ARE NOT THE SAME NOTE) made a lot of sense to me, and explained some things I had noticed that I had thought was all due to having a cheap (yamaha) guitar. Now I am not so sure that is the whole of my problems.

1. If the frets on a guitar cause it to always be a little out of tune, why are there no fret-less guitars? If there is such a thing, where could I go to try one out? Can you just remove the frets on a guitar and play it that way?

2. There is nice sounding guitar (also Yamaha--maybe the next model up- but sounds better than the one I have now) at guitar center, but it buzzes on the low A-string frets. There were several of them that had this problem. That sort of thing really grates on the nerves.. so how hard would it be to fix something like this?

Guitars rarely come from the factory with great actions. They almost all need an action set, as explained in my tuning article. Making those adjustments is a large part of our income. I played a fretless Les Paul once. I was amazed at how well I could play it, my presumption being that I wouldn't be able to play it at all. That being said, single noting is relatively easy, with chords ranging from hard to impossible. Two note chords, not too bad, especially if one or more strings are open. Six note jazz or swing chords, impossible. Fretless basses go in and out of style. They seem to be out right now, hence, hard to find.

Human ears are more accurate as the pitch goes up. A violinist must put fingers exactly where they belong. If a bass player is within a 1/4" he is close enough. A guitar covers much of the ranges of both the violin and the bass. Making your guitar fretless would be quick and easy. Pull the frets and fill the tang slots with colored epoxy or strips of wood or a mixture of the two. Use the filled tang slots as position markers. Plane it and polish it and string it up. Lower the nut to just above the fingerboard. We have defretted lots of basses, and, ironically, a good few old time banjos, but we have never done a guitar. The Les Paul I played, in California, had a new fretless fingerboard, so no filled slots as position cues. I think it is the only fretless guitar I've ever seen.

Steve Mason

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