Famous Players using Fretless Guitar

Famous artists with one or more fretless tracks

These players are might not be core fretless guitarists, but do use them!

Adrian Belew

Veteran King Crimson guitarist, painter / artist. Adrian played most fretless on the album “Three of a Perfect Pair”. King Crimson band member Robert Fripp has also used fretless guitar.

Andy Summers

Andy Summers fretless guitar

Andy’s solo on “Driven to Tears” was fretless.

Buzz Gravelle


Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins plays a nylon fretless on the song “Summertime” from the DVD Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed at the Bottom Line in NYC (1992).

Damien Cluzel

Hard to track down.

Daniel Bortz

Kittyhawk’s guitarist Daniel Bortz used a fretless in the ’70s which featured on the CD “Kittyhawk” (1980).

Darby Slick

Darby Slick fretless guitar

Darby Slick – Lead Guitarist of The Great Soceity with sister-in-law Grace Slick prior to her joining Jefferson Airplane. Wrote the classic song, Don’t You Want Somebody to Love. Created the “Slick” a fretless guitar of his own invention, no info on this piece apart from the above pic from 2009.

King of the Fretless Guitar – Unfretted’s review of Darby Slick’s fretless album.

Dweezil Zappa

The Dweez is known to use the fretless from time to time, a tradition passed down from his father, Frank. He acquired a new Gibson SG in January 2015, fitted with a Sustainiac and Antares Auto Tune it features on the tracks Dragon Master, Hummin’ and Truth on the album “Via Zammata” on which he also plays Oud and Glissentar.

Eivind Aarset

No information

Fernando Perez

Classical Nylon guitar player competent in a variety of styles. Has a Signature Guitar model with exchangeable fretted / fretless fingerboards.

Frank Zappa

Played fretless guitar on “Can’t Afford No Shoes”, “San Ber’dino”, “The Torture Never Stops”, “200 Years Old” and “Down in de Dew”.

Frank Zappa Fretless Reviews

Frank Zappa talks fretless

Fred Loiseau

Waiting to hear this chap.

Gary Moore

Used a Vigier Surfreter (fretless) on the track “Go on Home” from the CD “A Different Beat”.

Guthrie Govan

Plays a Vigier Surfretter he now uses on tour.

Govan’s stage setup, Fretless Vigier is the first guitar on the rack. (picture: Fausto Rossi)

Video in which Govan reviews the new Vigier Surfretter.

Jackson Browne

Rick Turner modified a Gibson Chet Atkins CE for Jackson Browne converting it into a 12 string nylon fretless called the Chet Oudkins.

Jean Beauvoir

Vigier artist using a Surfretter.

John Cale

Played fretless guitar on the earliest known fretless recording “Stainless Steel Gamelan” (1965)

John Etheridge

Renowned UK guitarist featured fretless on his album “Ash” re-released 2001. In his own words: “I started pleying fretless in ’76 when I heard Pastorious and thought; why not try that on guitar? So I took the frets out of a solid Guild I had lying around. Since then I have usually featured Fretless on a tune at gigs. After playing a bit of fretless going back to frets seems so artificial! On record have featured it on “Ash”, Theo Travis’ “Secret Island” (33 records) and my latest solo Album “I Didn’t Know” (Dyad024) available from my website: www.johnetheridge.com or Amazon. – JE

John Frusciante

Guitarist and songwriter for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, used an unfretted Fender Stratocaster on the solo on the song “Mellowship Slinky in B Major” from their breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

John McLaughlin

Used a fretless guitar on the last track of the Industrial Zen album.

Maartin Allcock

Multi-stringed instrumentalist with Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and Bully Wee Band. His fretless guitar hangs on the wall of his studio.

Marc Ducret

Born in Paris, France, we know Marc plays fretless from time to time.

Matt Bellamy

Lead guitarist of Muse plays a double neck fretted/unfretted called the Casinocaster.

Mattias IA Eklundh

He is rumoured to play fretless on some tracks but there is also a rumour that Ron Thal played these solos. He certainly does own a fretless guitar, see the article: “The Influence of Fretless Guitar in Heavy Metal Music”

Pat Metheny

Has used a Manzer fretless guitar from time to time, the solo on the track “Imaginary Day” being a good example. Also used a fretless 12 string on the track “Counting Texas” from “Pat Metheny Trio Live”.

Phillip Catherine

Phillip played fretless on one of the albums with Larry Cornell. Joe Ragusa saw him use it live at Carnegie hall in the early 80’s.

Randy Roos


Has been playing fretless since 1978, certainly the first time we have heard of a stainless steel fingerboard being used. Randy also incorporated Steve Holland’s electronic sustainer, also the first instance we can find for this type of device.

Reeves Gabrels

Who hasn’t this guy played with?

Rick Nielsen

Rick (guitarist for Cheap Trick) has a fretless six-string as the bottom neck on his famous five-necked Hamer guitar.

Scott McGill


Scott McGill – Proclaimed as the “The Thinking Man’s Yngwie Malmsteen” Scott’s career spans 25 years from the States through to his home near Brighton in the UK. (He relocated to the USA in 2015, returning to the UK in 2016) He released a disc of Fretless guitar material in late September 2006 with Ritchie DeCarlo and bassist Chico Huff entitled “Awareness” and recently new material has been recorded with Ritchie and legendary bassist Percy Jones (Brand X, Tunnels) scheduled for release in early 2009. Special guests include Stick Player Dave Kloss and Warr Guitarist Markus Reuter (Pat Mastelotto). Scott has also finished tracking a solo disc entitled “Symptom Imperative” and completed the second FreakZoid disc. All of these projects include Fretless Guitar.

Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane played a fretless guitar improv at Namm 16/Jan/1997, very impressive. This would have been to launch the Vigier Surfretter.

Spacey T Singleton

From the band Fishbone, uses a Vigier Surfretter.

Steve Vai


Steve plays a triple neck the bottom one being fretless.


Lead guitarist for Japanese band Luna Sea. He uses several custom fretless guitars with ESP

Terje Rypdal

In 1977 he had a fretless guitar which he used for “experimentation” he said it did not sound so good.

More Fretless Guitarists

9 thoughts on “Famous Players using Fretless Guitar

  1. Istanbul guitarist Cenk Erdogan plays fretless that, like his country, straddles East and West, using microtones and oud-like phrasings while playing Western chords and composition. He is on sound tracks and all that, plays with the greats in Turkey, and they are great! That’s what got me excited about fretless.

    1. Thanks for the comments Spencer, Cenk is a great player and influence, he does appear on several pages on Unfretted, just enter his name into the search box. He also has an excellent website with fretless lessons.

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