Hey there fellow CBN plunkers, strummers and sliders,

I'm getting ready to construct a 3-string cigar box guitar with a humbucker pickup. I'm really fascenated with the fretless fingerboard and have heard upright bassists produce warm single note passages in jazz music. And it occurred to me that maybe I don't need any actual, raised, metal frets, just fret markings on the upper side of my guitar neck. I'm also planning on using a slide more and more as I really want to get into that and learn the technique. I've played guitar most of my life and am so used to frets but would appreciate any feedback on whether actual metal frets are all that necessary... especally for a 3-stringer!

J.D. Woods

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  •  J.D. If the HTML doesn't work, try the other.

  •  Hello JD, welcome. I'm a fifty year failed six-string player that got into building and playing fretless one, two and three-stringers. Been at it for seven years. I've built roughly 20 3-string, four or five two-stringed, (chugger) guitars and about a dozen or so diddley bows of various types, canjos, tin-jos, etc. and nary a fret in (my) home-built guitar world. I was able to learn to build and play them, (somewhat) well enough that my wife and I are able to entertain ourselves. I have little doubt, with your experience, you'll do well.

    •  I play using a slide and also finger-style on the fretless neck. You get used to it. For slide, I set the string height just a bit higher than normal, .020 inch or so. I have one slick walnut that has a very low string height that I play sometimes with a slide. It has an odd, but kinda cool tone with a slide that works with some kinds of music. Experiment, ask around here, play and have fun. It's addictive. Don't say you haven't been warned. (grin)

      Any other questions, just ask. 


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  • Here’s a video, if you’re not into lengthy reads? 

  • A 3 string slider is fretless, but the higher action will take more pressure to fret notes without the slide? I suggest building both fretless & fretted to figure out which one is best for your playing style?


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