Greg Barnett sent us this information:
It isn’t listed on their site, but Carvin/Kiesel guitars will make a fretless guitar to order and they offer a “Hard as Nails” fretboard finish, which I believe is cyanoacrylate.
Jeff (from Carvin/Kiesel) is calling it Mystique. Sometimes, I just want to lick it. So far, I have resisted the urge. This certainly won’t be my last Vader.
Neck pickup sounds great, neck + bridge sounds great, bridge pickup on its own – can’t really tell yet. The tubes in my main head just crapped out, so I’ve been playing through bass amps and a backup head that doesn’t have the kind of distortion I like for bridge pickups (I almost never use bridge pickups clean).
I think hard as nails feels/sounds a little bit closer to a metal board than a wood board. Much better sustain with hard as nails (comparing to my Warmoth fretless, that has a Pau Ferro board). Much easier to use the fingernail technique to get sustain on the plain strings when needed, and the wound strings have enough sustain.
I used to recommend Warmoth for fretless guitar, but now I’m going to recommend Carvin/Kiesel. 27″ scale, with heavy strings and Hard as Nails finish just works better. Not knocking Warmoth at all (someday I may buy another fretless from them, but in 28.6″ scale, and I’ve also bought everything I need to try a cyanoacrylate finish on the fretless Warmoth I already have).
If you don’t already have a fretless guitar or bass, I strongly suggest that you buy one. It really makes you much more aware of pitch/melody/intonation. Playing fretless has greatly improved my ear for music (though I still have a long long way to go).
Current tuning: AEADGCF (.11 to .74). Thinking about going .13 to .80 and dropping the tuning down a step.
Considered a V8, but even with a .80, an F# would be too floppy for my taste with only a 27″ scale. Also considered a V6, but decided I wanted the additional range.
Excellent customer service – I lost one of the screws for the backplate on my LB75W, so I asked Jeff to include an extra. HE SENT LIKE 5!
The B&W ebony is leftover from a billet I had sliced up to make the top and fretboard of a TK Instruments SX8. The B&W ebony shrunk a lot more than expected when it dried, so I wasn’t sure what kind of guitar it would be good for. Then Jeff announced the Vader, and the bookmatches were the perfect size. Since they were so thin, we added a full thickness layer of macassar ebony. That macassar ebony probably wouldn’t have looked quite right as a top, but it worked out amazingly well as a middle layer.
Black & White (Pale Moon) Ebony does not bookmatch evenly, the grain is too crazy/irregular. If that bothers you, stay away from this wood. Personally, I think it adds character.
I originally wanted clear over the forearm bevel, Jeff convinced me it should be painted. I think he was right, even though it made the macassar very subtle on the front of the guitar. The macassar line only shows up on the forearm under certain lighting, and you can’t see the grain at all under the purple paint.
Much better built than the Krappy (but I still love the Krappy for djent/thrash)
When we realized that my initial idea for a finish (Purple/Blue/Green V-burst) would clash horribly with the macassar ebony on the forearm, we spent about 2 days going over finish ideas. I finally came up with “Nightfade”, based on the Nightburst from my V69K. The aqua portion came out a much different color than my V69K. I’m not sure if a different paint was used, or if it was because the B&W ebony was more yellow than maple is. Either way, I’m thrilled with the result.
The green on the fretboard shows up as almost black under certain lighting, and vibrant green in others. Even when it shows up as almost black, there is just enough contrast to be able to see the lines/markers.
I am hoping that Carvin/Kiesel gets a flood of orders for fretless guitars. – Greg BarnettMore Fretless Guitars