Dictionary of Fretless Guitar Terms

Dictionary of Fretless Guitar Terms


Air-fretless-guitar n. Imaginary invisible instrument requiring excessively accurate finger technique.


Banza n. fretless guitar like instrument found in Haiti, four strings, gourd and skin soundboard.

Barbat n. persian lute that unfortunately acquired frets in the 11th century.

Betterfun adj. dubious mirror anagram of Unfretted.

Bi-fretual adj. of a person, meaning one who plays fretted and unfretted guitars. attrib. Ed DeGenaro (2007)

Bolt-on neck – Neck that can be separated from the guitar body by unscrewing the neck. Great easy way to replace a fretted neck with a fretless one.

Godin Fretless Guitar Neck Joint


Capo n. Device attached to a guitar neck to increase the pitch of the instrument. Capo is short for capo d’astro, capo tasto or capotasto (Italian, meaning the nut of a stringed instrument) capodastro (Spanish), capodastre (French), Kapodaster (German) capo-disaster (English slang) . See Using a capo with a Fretless Guitar and Making a Glass Capo for a Fretless Guitar.

Çarpma n. Technique used in Turkish fretless music to enhance the note being played by rapidly hammering on and pulling off a higher note.

Cigar Box Guitar Very basic guitar, usually with three strings, sometimes fretless, often in kit form.

Courses n. Refers to instruments that have pairs of stings to be stopped by a single finger, for instance a 12 string guitar would be referred to as one with six courses of strings. Fretless instruments with dual courses of strings usually have them tuned in unison.

Cross n. simultaneous act of sliding strings in opposite directions, resulting in some notes rising and some falling.

Cümbüş n. Turkish banjo style instrument, fretless, 12 strings in groups of two tuned in unison. Definition of a Cümbüş player: “You only play it if you are a chainsmoking alcoholic loser from a despised ethnic minority with a long string of petty criminal convictions. Source: Jack Campin, 2005

Cumbus 12 string standard neck

Curtainless Guitar n. Suspected mistranslation of fretless guitar, from the Turkish word Perdesiz (fretless) where Perde is the word for fret, it is also the word for curtain.


Detwelveulation n. “Now is a good time to pull out the old frets” – Buzz Kimball

Defret v. Taking the frets of a conventional guitar and converting it to a fretless guitar.

DFGF acronym. Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival


EBow n. Handheld string sustain device useful on fretless guitars.

Electric Fretless Guitar – FaceBook meeting place for electric fretless guitarists.


Fernandes n. manufacturer of range of fretless guitars.

Fret v. To worry.

Fret not thyself (Biblical) Proverbs 24:19

Fret Pullers (tool) Precision tool for removing frets

Fretless Guitar – The Definitive Guide – The first book about the fretless guitar written by Jeff Berg (Jahloon) 2014

Fretter (slang) n. Non-fretless guitarist.


Gaggle cn. Collective noun for a gathering of Fretless Guitarists, origin: Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player Magazine (USA), December 2005.

Glissentar n. 11 string fretless guitar based on the Oud, manufactured by Godin. Unfretted Review

Globro n. Fretless Resonator guitar owned by Ned Evett.

Godin n. manufacturer of the Multiac Nylon Fretless Guitar, with piezo and Roland outputs, also The Glissentar and Multi-Oud, both fretless. Unfretted review Godin Fretless Multiac


H’arpeggione n. Beast of a fretless instrument created by Killick Hinds, played upright with 12 sympathetic strings.


Intonation You’ve either got it or you haven’t (from the Latin root intonare – to thunder)


Jack n. socket / plug combo, invented 1878.

Jahloon AKA Jeff Berg, Musician, Producer, Webmaster at Unfretted.com


Kronosonic n. Now defunct meeting place for avant garde guitarists and fretless beings. Now mostly reconstituted on the Facebook page 97% Chimp.


Lined Fingerboard Usually the result of removing frets and filling the gaps with material a different colour from the original fingerboard.

Fretless guitar lined fingerboard


Meend A practice in North Indian music in which describes the musical journey between notes – in effect a slide.

Munging adj. Raising pitch slowly and returning to original note.


Nail-stop n. Holding a string down with the fingernail, sometimes for more accuracy, sometimes for more sustain.

Nedhead n. 1) A fan of Ned Evett. 2) Small head like sculptures made by Ned Evett.

Ned Heads magnetic

Nuit de la Fretless Festival held twice in France, organised by Franck Vigroux.

Ngoni n. a traditional African four-stringed fretless instrument from Mali.


Oud n. Turkish fretless lute, eleven strings, five pairs and a single bass string. Widely used across the Middle East. See Neil Haverstick’s excellent article The Oud Ancient to Modern.


Patrice Vigier (person) Owner of Vigier Guitars and long time promoter of the fretless guitar and the artists involved with the instrument. His contribution to the fretless guitar is immeasurable. Unfretted Profile

Perdesiz (Turkish) This means Fretless in Turkish and will often be used as “Perdesiz Gitar” or Fretless Guitar. See the article The Influence of Perdisiz Gitar in Turkish Music.

Pick n. Item for plucking strings with the mysterious ability to vanish completely if dropped.


Quack n. A short, sharp unwanted burst from a MIDI enabled guitar ‘Oops!’.


Rabab n. Ancient fretless skin-covered lute in existence for over 2000 years.

Ragmakamtar n. Series of fretless guitar / oud type instruments, all individually different, crafted by Edward Powell.

Refretting v. Almost cardinal sin of taking a fretless guitar and fitting frets to the neck.


Sartar n. A cross between a Guitar and an Indian Sarod. Inventor – Edward Powell.

Set-neck A neck that is permanently fixed to the body, usually glued to the body prior to surface finishing, said to give better sustain.

Smooth Axe n. Fretless Guitar, (July 2007 – Jahloon) “So if an already famous guitarist took up the Smooth Axe, would that be the role model catalyst?”

Smoothboard Guitars (company) Supplied fretless guitars for a short time 2008 – 2010, are now supplying (2015 onwards) two models Smoothboard Fretless Guitars

Sustainer n. Fernandes Sustainer (trade mark) bowing device mounted in the neck pick up to provide infinite sustain.

Sustainiac n. Infinite sustain device.


Tanbur n. Ancient fretless forerunner of the guitar.

Through-neck Where the neck wood of the guitar extends through the body, which usually consists of two attached wings that form the body.

Fixed neck joint, O'Donell fretless guitar

Toe-in Slight bend in the neck, an advantage on fretted guitars but not wanted on the fretless guitar.


Unfretted adj. 1) Without frets. 2) Mythical state of mind, without worries. Wait a moment, that’s unfettered. (often misspelt or exchanged for unfretted). 3) FaceBook page for fretless guitarists. Unfretted is an official scrabble word with a minimum score of 13 points.

Unfretted Harpsichord n. A Harpsichord with one or two strings for each key on the keyboard. Early Harpsichords (fretted) assigned a single string to a number of keys, producing notes by fretting the string mechanically.

Unplugged and Unfretted -. FaceBook meeting place for acoustic fretless guitarists.


Vigier (company) Manufacturer of the Excalibur Surfreter fretless guitar.

Village of the Unfretted n. Double CD featuring 35 fretless guitarists (2005)


Warmoth (company) – supplier of guitar parts, tools and fretless necks.


Xenharmonic Alliance n. FaceBook page for microtonal musicians, includes some fretless guitarists.


You play the blues guitar with your soul, and the fretless guitar with your spirit. (quote) Jahloon 2005.


Zeynel Avidin CümbüşTurkish inventor of the Cümbüş, a twelve string fretless banjo style instrument.

Zing v. Fast slide up more than four semitones and return to original note. Sitar bend (qv).

Fretless Quotations