Fretless Guitar Pros & Cons

Pros and Cons of the Fretless Guitar

First off, the humourous side….


No one else you know has one.

No one can tell how good (or bad) you play it.

Regular guitarists will be jealous.


You do have to play accurately, don’t believe it is easy, but like any practice it will come in time.

Sustain – many fretless players will bemoan the lack of sustain, and this may lead you to false conclusions.

Tab notation doesn’t cover unfretted playing.


Because of the extra effort / concentration needed to get a listenable sound fretless guitarists are immediately recognisable – you know who is playing straight off.

This means you can be tracked down and hideously murdered for your contribution to music.

In some areas you will require a licence from the local council, for instance, in Winsford, UK

Second base, the serious considerations….

As a disclaimer, we would like to say that we’ve been forced to add some serious stuff by real musicians. – Ed


You are joining a varied and unique group of musicians all with very different musical tastes and skills.

Any guitar can be Unfretted, electric, acoustic, classical, 12 string.

The fingerboard material will radically alter your tone. It can be glass, metal, phenolic (type of plastic), or wood.

No two fretless players sound the same, there is such a direct contact between your soul and the instrument that it could never be so.


Transferring to fretless is a steep learning curve, and many fall by the wayside. For the lucky few who embrace the fretless guitar it is almost as if the instrument found them.

You will have to develop your ear and your mind, its not so much watching what you play, but listening to the music you create.

Chords are difficult at first, some shapes are nigh impossible to play in tune, very quickly you pick up the shapes that work.

Tone and sustain are very artist dependant, its something you need to work very hard at, and many people will say the fretless guitar has very little sustain. The sustain should not be an issue if the guitar is set up correctly, and remember your technique will determine the overall sustain.

FAQ – Fretless Guitar FG Hints & Tips