History – The 2000’s
France – Patrice Vigier decided to make one special Excalibur Fretless Surfreter to celebrate 20 years of guitar making. To do this, he called upon his friend Mr. Arto Soukiassian, award winning designer and creator of precious jewellery, who has worked for among others, Chanel, Van Cleef and Arpels, Dior and Fred. He was happy to use his skills to blend his passion for jewellery and lutherie. The result is an Excalibur Surfreter transformed into an object of art with its five star shaped diamonds set on the body, six 18 karat gold leaves on the pickguard, brilliant diamonds set around the pickup selector with a Vigier logo to match, diamond dot fret markers, a star shaped sapphire set on a gold volume knob and a moon shaped one on a gold tone knob, eleven gold screws and two more diamonds set on the string holder located on the headstock. However, the final touch of creation is a gold guitar pick to match! This unique guitar is priced at $30,000. The book “Totally Guitar – The Definitive Guide” (Tony Bacon / Dave Hunter) states it was made in a limited edition of two, however, the guitar designer, Patrice Vigier, confirms that only a single guitar was made and that it is currently in his possession.
USA – Fretlessguitar.com launches as the official distribution channel for Fernandes fretless guitars, products of the company’s US Custom shop. Note: website presently redirects to Ned Evett’s home page, as it is currently being rebuilt.
France, April 7th – La Nuit de la Fretless (2). The second festival held in Mende, France.
Canada, Mid year – Godin release the Glissentar a cross between an Oud and an eleven string fretless guitar.
France, October – Yannick Robert, Dave Fiuczynski and Tim Donahue appear, along with others, in the French “Guitar Mag” article “Fretless” fretless-guit-mag_10-2001 – copie (pdf)
USA December 7th – Fretless Guitar Masters compilation CD is released. This album came about by the collaboration of Ned Evett and Franck Vigroux after the second Nuit de la Fretless festival.
This featured two tracks from each artist: Yan Vagh, Ned Evett, Stephen James Taylor, Tim Donahue, Bumblefoot (Ron Thal), David “Fuze” Fuiczynski, Franck Vigroux with the Fretless Quartet and Yannick Robert.
USA February – California patent #6,350,940 granted for a Fretted/fretless stringed musical instrument.
A stringed instrument intended to be alternately played in a fretted mode or an unfretted mode by raising a separate fingerboard to the tops of the frets for the unfretted mode and lowering it for the fretted mode. A pair of meshed rack-and-pinion assemblies are driven back and forth by a lever the motion of which racks are translated to rails that cam the separate fingerboard up and down through pins protruding inwardly from the rails into slide slots in flanges of the fingerboard.
Canada – Mid year – Godin release the Multiac Nylon Fretless SA guitar.
Godin – Multiac Nylon Fretless SA
USA June – Fretless Guitarist Ned Evett wins the North American Rock Guitar Championship.
UK November – Jahloon creates the Unfretted.com website, which also redirects from Unfretted.net, Unfretted.org and Fretlessguitar.co.uk.
The Unfretted website brought all the fretless guitarists together under one roof for the first time. There were a few simple rules; all artists had to give their permission to be included (and some were very hard to track down at the time). No advertising would ever appear on the website. No links unless relevant to fretless guitar. It remains the same to this day.
September – A few items surface on eBay described as; Takamine fretless guitars, with the first three frets intact, so you can still play chords. The guitars are Jumbo types with no cutaway, and while they are made by Takamine they are actually the Jasmine S35, a students model that can be purchased new for around $99. One offer on eBay had a buy now price of over four times that! We don’t know who removed the frets, if it was a factory job or not, but given the first three frets are still there it is going to be difficult to set up action for good fretless operation. About a dozen were sold in the USA and three or four in the UK.
Toronto, Canada, August – Mikhail Chtchetinine creates a working fretted / fretless, switch on-the-fly, guitar using a rolling fret type technology.
Tim Donahue gets the front page of China’s Guitar Fan.
Tim Donahue with his Vigier
Executive Producer – Jeff Berg
Artwork and Design – Emre Meydan
Mastering – Tim Mirth
Publicity – Michael Vick
This began with a chat on Unfretted.com’s forum. With a very active membership it was muted that we should make a CD. Initially planned as a small project we thought it might be unfair not to ask all the recording fretless guitarists if they wanted to take part. What we did not expect was so many said Yes! There were a few that could not take part due to contractual reasons or being on tour but we had 92% of all the artists we could contact. This was way beyond a single CD so we went to a double CD. It could have been a triple, but due to costs we limited it to just two discs. This may be the only time in history when most of the World’s artists on a single musical instrument have contributed to the same album.
UK October – Some cheap copies / versions of the original ARAM 2001 Fretless Guitar start appearing on eBay in the UK. These are black with chrome hardware and have bolt on necks. The headstock bears the ARAM logo and the words; “Technologies by USA” (Originals were deep burgundy, through neck with black or pewter hardware)
USA Spring – Ned Evett appears in Guitar Player.
USA May – Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal fretless guitar virtuoso is recommended to Guns and Roses by Joe Satriani. He makes his debut live performance with the band in NYC at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 12th and performs on the bands sixth studio album; Chinese Democracy (2008).
The Netherlands, August 12th – The first Dutch Fretless Festival takes place in Den Haag.
USA September 26th – Ed DeGenaro is one of the ten finalists in Guitar Player’s Guitar Hero Competition.
USA September 29th – 30th – The second NYC Fretless Festival takes place in New York.
USA October – Pat Metheny “I have tried fretless guitar on and off since I was a teenager and have always found both appealing and challenging. For me, there is a certain thing that it can do that obviously I can’t get to any other way. I started gravitating towards a nylon string version in the mid-90’s. once again, the great collaboration that I have enjoyed with Linda Manzer through the years came into play – she built the one that I used on the piece “Imaginary Day” and came up with some interesting ideas regarding the kinds of strings that I was using (a wound b string for example) and the way the bridge and tailpiece work together. I later asked her to make a twelve string version with nylon strings which i also really enjoy (“counting texas” from the trio>live record). In recent years, I have not gravitated towards it too much, but I still love playing it.” – Source: www.patmetheny.com
Outer Space, February 1st – Eric Rhodes’ track “Barely Makin’ It” from the CD “Village of the Unfretted” was played aboard the International Space Station. Eric Rhodes explains: Every evening, before they go to sleep, the astronauts play a game in which they play a random song. The first person from the ground to answer correctly wins. As a gift to my (then) wife who’s worked with the space station team for 6 years, they played my tune (a total surprise) and she flipped out! She was leaving that team and switching jobs to a new project (the new launch vehicle). You could say it was a “going away present” – Eric Rhodes
Cyberspace, March 17 – Unfretted ZEBOX site opens to host fretless videos and large sound files. (Now closed due to the demise of Zebox)
November 16/17 – Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival 2 takes place at Haags Pop Centrum and The Musicon, Den Haag (The Hague), Netherlands.
USA September 20th – 21st – The third NYC Fretless Festival takes place in New York.
November 5/7/8/9 – Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival III takes place at The Musicon (5th), Haags Pop Centrum (7/9th), De Pater (8th) Den Haag, Netherlands.
May 29th – 31st – Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival IV takes place at Haags Pop Centrum (29th), De Pater (30th), Haags Pop Centrum (31st) Den Haag, Netherlands.
USA October – Ed DeGenaro appears as “The Outsider” in Guitar Player.History 1990’s History 2010’s