looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Working without a Fret

I've had a spare guitar knocking around the place for several years. It's a Yamaha APX-10N nylon-string classical with under-saddle pickups. It's been pretty decent but since bringing it across the Pacific, I think the climate change from muggy Auckland to dry Las Vegas has put a little out of sorts. I tried tweaking the truss rod but I couldn't seem to bring it back to life. I haven't been playing it much at all - it's been hanging on the wall as a dust-gathering ornament.

Well, the other day I took it down and pulled the frets from the fingerboard, effectively turning into a fretless guitar. I followed some online advice and used a soldering iron to heat up the individual frets prior to levering them up using a pair of flush-cutting nipper pliers. The frets came out relatively easily, with only very minor chipping of the ebony fretboard. At this point I could have just left the fret slots as-is, but being a perfectionist I wanted to try filling them with a lighter-coloured wood. Using a craft knife, I cut slivers from pine shims and wedged/tapped/forced them into the slots, welding them in place with liberal application of crazy glue.

After trimming the excess with the craft knife, I used successive sandings with 180, 240, and 320 sandpaper to eliminate the bumbs, strip off the spots of over-flowed crazy glues, and liberate a large amount of dense, dark brown wood dust. The end result is rather effective:

I've put a standard set of nylon strings on it, and tuned it in fourths: EADGDF. Playing it takes some getting used to. Standard barre chords are out of the question, but that really isn't a desired function of a fretless guitar. Think slurred melodic phrases and eastern-style riffs. I'll post some samples here in a bit - when I've practiced some more.