Album Review – Angels On My Pillow, Devils In My Head – Fat Knuckle Freddy

Angels on my pillow cover

Fat Knuckle Freddy is a composer, instrumentalist and a songwriter. Real name Alfred Giusto he has released the album “Fretless Resonator” in 2004 and in 2006 using another alter ego “Meantone” he released “Original Graveyard Blues”.

How did he come by the name Fat Knuckle Freddy? Well, he managed to break and dislocate his fretboard pinkie (little finger) at the middle knuckle. It’s now the size of a thumb knuckle and points a few degrees outward. This gives FKF a little extra stretch on the fretboard but he mostly covers it with his slide.

Fat Knuckle Freddy’s fat knuckle

Fat Knuckle Freddy plays and composes American Primitive Music and Porch Stomping, Bone Rattling, Graveyard Blues. FKF plays Fretless Slide (Octave Bass) Guitars, 3 & 4 String Cigar Box Guitars, Baritone Guitar, Fretless Acoustic Guitar, Fretless Resonator Guitar, Weissenborn Guitar and Standard Acoustic Guitar. He lives in the Sprague Delta on the Southside of Portland, Maine, USA.


In his own words….

On this album I use two fretless guitars with an octave bass string. Solidbody E tuning-E (bass), E,B,E,B,E. Hollowbody G tuning-G (bass) G,D,G,B,D. I adjust intervals and chords to mimic just intonation and meantone tuning using 72et, which I learned from Joseph Maneri at New England Conservatory. 72et was created by Ezra Simms to mimic just intonation as closely as possible but keeping our 12 note system intact. This is easier to learn and requires simple notation.

Minor 3rds, 6ths & 7ths up 16% from ET (equal temperament). Maj 3rds, 6ths, & 7ths down 16% down from ET. Tritones, 2 kinds 16% down and 33% up.  Depending on the intervals I’m playing, I make further adjustments. I’m basing everything off of a chromatic blues scale. That’s minor and major blues combined. After combining those two, you have 3 notes missing.

Example key of E blues:
E minor Blues = E,G,A,Bb,B,D.
E major Blues = E,F#,G,G#,B,C#.

So in numbers 1,2,b3,3,4,b5,6,b7. Missing is b2 (phrygian), b6 (phrygian and aeolian) and 7 the bebop blues passing tone. In meantone tuning, #4 and b5 are two different notes. In E this is A# and Bb, which is two different tritones. That’s the meantone tuning influence, since that’s where our notation system comes from. I’m not a fan of ratios it requires too much brain power. I believe in notes. I’m old fashioned.

That’s my music nerd description of playing the blues in 72et with a slide.


Angels on my pillow reverse
All tracks fretless except 9, fretted 3 string cigar box slide guitar.

Well you certainly get what’s printed on the tin with this album. It’s raw stomping blues, American primitive music, with no overdubs. Very infectious with some nice percussion from drummer Young Bret. The addition of the bass guitar string gives the impression of a bass player in the band, but no it’s a duo, FKF uses this to great effect. If you want to hear some new blues music that is raw driving power, you can find it here.

Review: Jahloon – December 2016



Television appearance on WCSH6 (website)

Fat Knuckle Freddie on Bandcamp


More Fretless Music Reviews

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