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Posts: 59
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to show you my new FRETLESS Harp Guitar made by Sean Woolley (  It was made 4 years ago and previously owned / played by Jason Carter so is nicely played in and 'wide awake'.

I got inspired by some of the fretless guitar videos that float around the internet and at first decided to buy a 6 string and convert it to fretless, but of course I soon realised that a fretless HG is the way to go.

I am familiar with Tim Donahue's electric fretless lovelies but as far as I know this is the only acoustic Fretless HG in the world?

First challenge - learn to play a few notes in tune, and go from there!

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Reply with quote  #2 
Can you still use a capo?

Michael [biggrin]

Michael Schreiner

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Posts: 306
Reply with quote  #3 
Looks like a lovely instrument, Jon!

I'm curious about the tonal response in the lower register;  I've had experience in the past that led me to suspect that having a wing of the bridge be so close to the side/rib caused some damping of the bass response.  I'm sure this is a fine sounding instrument (I assume if you didn't like it's sound, you wouldn't have gotten it!), but I'm wondering about that bass response question.  Any thoughts?  Do you have something to compare it with?
Perhaps Sean, as the builder, has some thoughts?

Regarding fretless harp guitars:
Big Red full front 150.jpg 
this one, known as "Big Red", I built in 2005 for player who does a lot of fretless stuff.  He also likes "quarter-tones"; the fingerboard is fretless up through the first 7 semi-tones, covered with a brass plate that is as thick as the crowns of the frets I use on the remainder of the fingerboard.  The plate has markings for quarter-tones.  Above the plate is standard fretting.  The neat thing is you get the ability to have both the fretted and fretless sounds on one instrument.

All the best!


Having an open mind doesn't necessarily mean your brain has fallen out.

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Posts: 59
Reply with quote  #4 
Michael, yep it actually sounds good (to me) with a capo - as long as it is put on absolutely square and in the right place!

Fred, to me it sounds great - of course.  I wouldn't know what the reasoning for the original shape or effect of the bridge would be so probably a good question for Sean.

I never played this guitar when it had frets, and as soon as you stop the strings with the left hand you get that distinctive slightly dull and raspy fretless sound (esp on the bass strings) which does sound more dampened than a normal guitar.   The open neck bass strings sound perfectly good to me.  Sean did put an ebony nut on so that the open string sound would be deliberately dulled and more closely match the stopped (I nearly said fretted) sound, which seems logical to me.  So its a bit hard to answer your question I think - it is what it is and I take it at face value.

What might be really useful would be to have frets covering just strings 4,5 & 6 on the neck, so that you could fret part of the chord and still glide around on the trebles.  Maybe next time.

I LOVE Big Red and did know about its semi-fretlessness, as I looked it up a few years ago, but I supposed 2 things: 1 - that your instruments occupy a league and universe of their own, so comparison is perhaps not necessary, and 2 - Big Red is partially fretless, so not quite the same thing. 

I have seen pictures of Benoit's fabulous fretless creations but wonder if they can be called 'harp guitars' or not according to Gregg's definition as they don't have any "unstopped" strings.  Apparently also Alistair Hay is just finishing off an Emerald fretless steel string HG.  Apart from those I think I might still cling tentatively to my claim that this is probably the world's first fully fretless acoustic harp guitar - for whatever that is worth - and until someone comes along and proves me wrong anyway.

Just wish I could play the thing more in tune!


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Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi guys. Fred, I wish I could answer better your question concerning bass response. The design seems to work for me. But I do only build with nylon strings. I do not want the bass to be overpowering and I have made a thin body hg to see how that effects the bass. I made a bright guitar but as I imagined didn't have the depth soundwise that the "classic" size had.
Here are a couple of videos, first one of my favourite players  Philippe Fouquet who can really play all those bass strings.

That guitar had squared off bridge ends. So at some point I did ask myself that question about stiffness in that area of the top and changed to a rounded end bridge that I now use on all my guitars. I'm not sure if it's better, certainly not worse and I like the look of it that creates a link with the rounded ended Dyer bridges ( that are also close to the edge).
The second video Jason Carter. A later guitar, the woods have change, this time maple and cedar, the first was Khaya and Spruce. The bracing pattern has changed a little, but remains very Euro influenced. Fan braced basically. I'll try and find some photos of the build. Until then best wishes to you all. Sean

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