History 1990’s

History – The 1990’s


USA – Ned Evett unfretted his Strat with a pair of pliers.


USA – A Chicago luthier modifies Jim Kimsey’s fretless Supro making the bottom 4 strings fretless and the top 2 strings fretted and the Fretless Super Buzzmaster is born.

Jim Kimsey's Fretless Super Buzzmaster

Jim Kimsey’s Fretless Super Buzzmaster


USA – Chet Atkins plays “Summertime” on a Fretless Nylon “Chet Atkins” Gibson that the company made specially for him. This features on the DVD “Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed at the Bottom Line in NYC.”

dvd chet atkins

Chet says that Gibson initially built the guitar with red fret lines, which he couldn’t see, so they replaced them with white.

chet atkins fretless guitar

The serial number 81628501 dates the guitar to June 1988


May – Guitar Player features Dan Stearns, two handed fretless.

dan stearns guitar player 1993

Just one of Dan’s many appearances in Guitar Player.


Poland – Ryszard Latecki creates the semi-fretless guitar called The LATAR a cross between a fretless and a fretted guitar, for which he holds the patent.

Ryszard Latecki & Latar

Ryszard Latecki & the Latar, picture by Marcin Majewski

Ryszard originally wanted a fretless acoustic bass guitar, and not being successful he thought it would be a good idea to convert a standard acoustic into a bass. Then a brain wave hit him, why not combine the advantages of fretless and fretted into one instrument? Ryszard uses heavy strings 11-57, tuning the 6th to B or A. Interview with Ryszard & Latar

USA – Jon Szenics begins experimenting with various polymers for fretless guitar fingerboards. In 2000 he receives a US Patent for use of a specially surface treated polymer as a fingerboard for stringed musical instruments.

Boise, Idaho, USA – Ned Evett creates the first fretless guitar with a glass fingerboard with help from friends Rob Renick and Cherian Jubilee. He names it “The Golden Gate”, after the Golden Gate bridge which is near the music store where he bought the guitar in San Francisco.

Ned Evett's fretless guitar "The Golden Gate"

The Golden Gate



France – Vigier releases the Excalibur Surfreter (Supra and Special) fretless guitars. Two prototypes had been made in 1995, one allegedly bought by John Paul Jones.


USA January NAMM – Ned Evett debuts his Fernandes glass-neck sustainer fretless guitar.

May – The UK magazine “Guitarist” reviews the Vigier Excaliber Surfreter (standard).


USA January NAMM – The Aram company bring the 2001 model fretless to the show. Specially designed as an eye catcher in deep transparent burgundy, the guitar retailed at $695, about 100 were made.

USA Boise Idaho – Ned Evett launches the website fretlessguitar.com which closed some years later, it is due for relaunch in 2016.

September 9th La Nuit de la Fretless (1). The first fretless festival held in Mende, France.

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