Classical Music and the Fretless Guitar

The Fretless Guitar seems to have found its way into many genres; Heavy Metal, Jazz, Turkish, Indian and Arabic music. Not to mention Atonal, Free Improvisation and Ambient, but what about Classical Music?

After hearing Deniz Atalay’s Beneath the Sea album and hearing how well the String Quartet worked with the Fretless Guitar I started thinking that maybe there was a strong case for the Fretless to be used in a Classical Music environment.

So, after a little research I found that Classical falls into two different groups; those playing traditional well known pieces and new composers writing specifically for the instrument.

Traditional pieces

Dolores Catherino

Dolores Catherino

Dolores is a multi instrumentalist better known for her microtonal work whose website is well worth a visit.

VOCALISE fretless guitar (Rachmaninoff), performed by Dolores Catherino
Which she describes as: An exploration of the world of emotional expression between the notes, in the nuance of melodic movement. A musical reflection on the pervasiveness of auto-intonation (autotune) technology in music production.

Erkan Oğur

Erkan Ogur Anatolian Blues

Erkan Oğur (born 1954) is a Turkish musician. A pioneer of fretless guitar, a composer, has influenced many musicians with his compositions combining the sounds of Turkish folk music, Classical Music with the ancient traditional music. He has played many concerts all over the world. He is regarded as a master of the kopuz and bağlama. The guitar kicks in at 1:18

Erkan Ogur plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Matthäuspassion”

Erkan Oğur plays Chopin’s Prelude in E-Minor Op.28 No.4 at Yazi Tura (Toss Up) OST, with his fretless guitar, accompanied by violin and human voice.


Neo Classical pieces

Daniele Gottardo

Daniele Gottardo

Daniele Gottardo is an Italian Guitarist, Composer, Producer and Educator.

Fugue is the tenth track on the second album of Daniele Gottardo, Non Temperato.

Daniele Gottardo – Fugue (for Fretless Guitar and Chamber Orchestra)

Alek Darson

Alek Darson

Enjoy this live in-studio rendition of Fingers Painted Purple (the hidden track from Panopticon EP). It’s featuring Eren Basbug’s masterful arrangement for the string section, as well as his great performance on the Roli Seaboard and Jordantron!

Fretless Guitar vs Seaboard vs Strings – Fingers Painted Purple

Buzz Gravelle

Buzz Gravelle Fretless Classical Guitar

In his own words… I stumbled across the fretless guitar in 2006, on a whim purchasing a used fretless classical guitar for $50. At the time, I knew very little about the history, players, or possibilities of the fretless guitar. I immediately became fascinated with it. Through Google and Youtube I quickly learned that many excellent musicians are currently making music with both fretless acoustic and electric guitars. However, there are compartively few fretless classical guitarists. This is, in part, due the nature of the instrument, which is not sympathetic to standard classical guitar repertoire, and there is little repertoire specifically for the fretless classical guitar. This became a perfect musical challenge and compositional opportunity for me. Hope you enjoy the music! – Buzz Gravelle
Buzz Gravelle plays his composition Fretless Classical Guitar Study No. 2. live, UCLA Organ Studio 11th May 2011

Michael ATONAL Vick

michael vick nyc 2005

Michael ATONAL Vick aka vvv master of microtonal fretless playing performing on television.

May-la-no-seemayney (fretless classical guitar) live on WYCW-TV.

Barend Tromp

Barend Tromp 2

New piece for classical fretless guitar that I am working on. It is not perfect yet but it is getting there!

Fretless classical guitar acoustic nylon string – harrytemmer

Hector Hellion

War orphan’s prayer – Fretless guitar with a bow


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