Put this little 3-stringer together as a John Lee Hooker tribute.The box image was printed on matte photo paper and attached with 3M spray adhesive. F holes were hand cut then covered with black screening to keep the bugs out.

Hard maple neck with a walnut fret board. Since it's a slider, I used flat brass to create fret location markers on the side of the fret board.

I used the round zero fret system that I posted earlier.

The scale is 24" and tuned to C3 G3 C4. The pickup is a humbucker in a single coil package. They are compact and sound good. The tone control is a 500K audio taper pot with a 0.047uF cap.

With 24 frets to the box, I think this one will become a good daily player.

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WOW!  A lot of art and great craftsmanship.   High 9s from me.  John Lee was the first blues man I ever listened too and started liking the blues.   Just re-watched The Blue Brothers a while back and it was cool they put him in the movie.

Small and not surprising story.  My good friend and playing buddy, Ted, got to interview John Lee after a concert at a college.  There was a pretty girl also doing an interview.    I think you can guess which interviewer John Lee was attentive to.

Thanks John.

As you know, every build is a chance to make some part "a little better". This is something like build 45~50 and I've learned a lot with each one. I'm still tweaking John Lee. Changing strings, adjusting the pickup to string clearance, playing with different tone pots and caps. It's a never ending study, but fun to do.

Hope all is well out your way.

Nice clean build Tom, nice attention to detail and materials. Yep, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Taff

Thanks Taffy.

Almost sorted out and it will be my new daily player.

Wow... nice...

I was scouring the Internet recently to get feedback from anyone who'd put together a fretless uke...  like to get your impression on the 3-string.  Guessing it's a little scary if you're used to frets, but how did you set up the string height and what do you like about playing fretless?  Does it affect sound much?

I've built and played 6, 5, 4 and 3 string fretted guitars. I've also built and played 4 and 3 string fret less. Over time I decided that the three string fret less is the most fun to play.

Tuned to an open "Power" chord like DAD or CGC they are easy to learn to hit individual notes and produce some very effective blues notes.

I use magnetic pickups and only a tone control on the guitar. Since I don't have any other players in my area, I usually play along with one of about 40 good blues and rock backing tracks. You can play some very good lead runs with the two lower strings and toss in a matching run with the bass string. Overall, pretty easy to play and a load of fun.

As for string height, it's just not too critical on a slider as long as you get enough clearance to not press the string into the fret board with your slide. I usually use something like a 0.070" round zero fret to get the beginning string height up pretty good.

I find that picking strings that give you around 16~20 pounds of string tension make slide play easier than low tension.

I strongly encourage you to build one with a 24~25" scale, a mag pickup and give it a try. You will surprise yourself.

If I missed any of your questions, just let me know.

Well, since you asked..

  I'm really impressed with the look of the fret markers. I only work with hand tools and I'm having trouble visualizing how I would go about installing them. Could you provide a little insight as to how you made them?

 Beautiful design. If I can figure out how to do it myself, I'll be stealing it for some of my fretless gits.

Cheers!

Hi Soup.

The brass fret markers are actually easier than you might think. Since I have a separate fret board, I can install them before attaching the fret board to the neck. Here's a quick run down.

1. Mark all the fret locations on the fret board using a pencil.
2. Use masking tape to mark a line 1/4" from the edge of the fret board that will get the markers.
3. Pick up some 1/4" wide flat brass stock from some place like Hobby Lobby.
4. Mount the fret board in a small vice to hold it steady as you cut slots for the markers. I usually mount the fret board so about four fret positions are in the center of the vice so they are well supported when you begin sawing.
5. Use a fret saw or a thin bladed saw to carefully cut the fret slots to depth. Cut all the slots before moving on.
6. I rub a little wood glue into a slot then use a tack hammer to gently tap the brass into the slot. I use the entire length of brass and try to make it flush with the top of the fret board. Once the brass is seated, I use a pair of wire cutters to snip it off on the bottom side of the fret board. I will do final dressing of this once all the markers are installed.
7. Once all the markers are installed, I clamp the fret board (top down) on a board then clamp a board the same thickness as the fret board firmly against the side of the fret board where the brass had been installed. This is so I can file and sand the protruding brass from the bottom side of the fret board.
8. Once the brass is sanded flush on the bottom, I use a sanding block with some emery on it to sand the brass on the side of the fret board flush with the wood.
9. As a final step, I usually apply some shellac (rubbing by hand) to the fret board and into any gaps around the markers. This is the final step in stabilizing the markers so they don't move. 

Sounds like a lot of steps, but it only takes about a half hour to install and level the markers. Give it a try.

Thanks for taking the time to write these excellent instructions. I will definitely give this a try.

Boy, the things you learn from this site... 

Good to know... I am doing this on a cake tin banjolele... all acoustic... was thinking about all those wonderful fretless banjos. Anyway, we'll see... if it doesn't work out for me, the cure is pretty straightforward. 

The screen to keep the bugs out made me laugh :-)

Sure beats having a can of Raid that sprays everytime you strum it...

Francois, I've been known to drop all sorts of things and I figured I could drop picks or whatever through those F holes. Besides, the screen is cheap and looks cool.

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