Playing the Fretless Guitar feat. Bumblefoot

by Randall Nashleanas, May 17, 2019 . 5 min read

Playing the Fretless Guitar feat. Bumblefoot

In the history of the world, thousands of different Gods have been and are still worshipped today impacting millions all over the globe. Yngwie Malmsteen, Greg Howe, and Jason Becker are just to name a few to have been worshipped in our time. But there is one God that must be recognized today. His mighty name is Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal.

Not only has Bumblefoot taken the guitar world by storm with his incredible guitar techniques using thimbles and insane hyper-picking, but his use of the fretless guitar is, dare said, unmatched by most. Today, we are playing the Fretless Guitar feat. Bumblefoot.

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal found his name while helping his wife study for her veterinary exams on the bacterial disease known as “Bumblefoot.” Thus, the solo guitarist Bumblefoot was born.

More recently, Bumblefoot is more well-known to have been one of the leading guitarists for a little band known as Guns-n-Roses. Previously, he has released over 10 albums since the early ’90s featuring his insane original music and operatic voice.

Many of the recordings include techniques, designed by Bumblefoot himself, that require the use of a thimble, yes, a thimble, and extraordinary rhythmic hyper-picking. All the while using these techniques on a fretless guitar, also designed through the mind of Bumblefoot and Vigier Guitars.

Click here for Bumblefoot’s Thimble Lesson.

Further Reading – 20 Types of Guitars and the Legends that Played Them

Understanding the Fretless Guitar

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal Wiki

Even if someone has 10 years of experience playing the guitar, switching to a fretless guitar is no walk in the park. There are many factors to playing a fretless that one must take note before committing to this experience.

Tuning

Tuning your fretless guitar is still the same. Although, many professional fretless guitar players are known to go from the standard E Tuning – E A D G B E – to tuning their guitars to a D Tuning – D G C F A D – which is a whole step lower and allows for more control on single notes and sustain.

Related Post – The Complete Guide for Guitar Tuning

Intonation and Muscle-Memory

Since there are no frets, you must be aware of two things that are absolutely crucial: Intonation and muscle memory.

When it comes to training your intonation and muscle memory, play scales very slowly over a drone note. For example, listen to Cello Drone – A on Youtube. Now practice your A scales, major, minor, pentatonic, what have you, over this A drone.

With time and practice, it will most certainly aid in securing your intonation on a fretless instrument as well as helping build your muscle memory!

Different Necks for Different Specs

Some fretless guitars are known to have metal fingerboards. For instance, if someone were to buy the Excalibur Surfreter Special guitar from Vigier, they would notice that the fingerboard is metal.

Most commonly in the guitar world, people tend to build their own fretless guitars from their own guitars by taking out the frets. This process is quite tedious and requires careful step-by-step instructions. Here’s a solid guide on how to do so:

Fretless Vibrato and Playing Chords

Vibrato would be slid up and down the neck instead of bent within the fret markers, sort of like a violin or cello. This is due to the string tension because of the lack of frets.

You can play more simple chords in tune such as G, C, D, etc… but playing bar chords is another beast in itself. This is due to us being used to having frets and fret markers as guides. But with enough time and persistence, playing any chords you want on a fretless isn’t completely impossible.

How Bumblefoot Plays on the Fretless

For a more in-depth look on Fretless Guitar playing from Bumblefoot himself, here’s a Guitar Player Magazine lesson footage from 2008:

In this video, Bumblefoot mentions the difficulties of playing chords, training your muscles, developing intonation with your fingers, becoming the fret, and sliding your vibrato, not bending it.

Here’s another amazing excerpt from a fretless guitar solo featured in Bumblefoot’s song, ‘R2’ off his 9/11 dedicated album, 9/11:

Check out this clip from Bumblefoot’s fretless guitar solo in the song, ‘God of the Sun,’ by his band SONS OF APOLLO:

Encore

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal has, to say the least, elegantly mastered the art of fretless guitar playing. His talents without a doubt solidify him as being one of the most insane guitar Gods to ever walk the earth.

Let’s recap our understanding of Fretless Guitar playing:

• Tuning your guitar is the same, just may seem easier to play at a lower tuning such as D G C F A D.
• Requires a closer look into finely-tuned intonation.
• Become the fret.
• Chords are hard…but not impossible.
• Muscle Memory Training.
• Vibrato slides up and down, not bends.

We here at Roadie hope you enjoyed this article about Playing the Fretless Guitar feat. Bumblefoot! Keep practicing and remember, practice doesn’t make perfect – practice makes progress.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

Many guitarists in the Roadie community are well-rounded musicians who not only know how to play instruments but also how to record and mix their songs.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 21, 2019 . 4 min read

Wouldn’t it be awesome if an app could listen to you play and coach you to learn your favorite songs on the Uke? That’s exactly what Ukulele by Roadie does. 

Garen Krikorian
Aug 14, 2019 . 3 min read

Practice makes perfect, but there’s always room for improvement. If you want to become a master, then you need some effective habits to improve your guitar skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 15, 2019 . 3 min read

Roadie Tuner has received much support from musicians all over the world, as they share their personal preferences and opinions on how they use Roadie products.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 10, 2019 . 2 min read

So you just bought tickets to attend your first ever summer festival! Best feeling ever. Time ticks as you simply can’t wait to watch your favorite artists do their magic while you sing and dance along.

Garen Krikorian
Jul 5, 2019 . 4 min read

While it’s true that the music industry can often seem like a young person’s game, there are more than a handful guitarists who made it later in life.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 4, 2019 . 3 min read

Practice makes perfect, and clichés will forever be used in blog posts like these. But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true!

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 1, 2019 . 6 min read

Western and non-western civilizations across the globe contain a plethora of various genres of music. Although these cultures aren’t universally on the same page – music is the universal language.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 21, 2019 . 5 min read

We’ve covered alternate tunings extensively on this blog, and recommended several great songs you can learn to play with new tunings. We’ve even written an entire ebook on it. 

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 19, 2019 . 7 min read

The beauty of being a musician is that the only musician you can be…is you. Jimi Hendrix left-handedly pioneered blues and rock guitar styles of playing with a head full of lucy.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 10, 2019 . 3 min read

Tuning a 24 String Bass…How long does it take?!

For some people, it’s quite difficult to tune an instrument even with the use of a tuner.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 7, 2019 . 3 min read

Around 4000 years ago, someone invented a gadget which could create sound using strings forged from the gut of a cow. As time progressed,

Randall Nashleanas
May 31, 2019 . 4 min read

Making music is a reward in itself. But like many musicians, you’ve probably wondered how to get people to listen to your music so they can recognize your genius.

Frederik Nielsen
May 29, 2019 . 5 min read

Band Industries, the makers of the Roadie automatic guitar tuners, are excited to announce the launch of their new free tuner app.

Karine Janho
May 27, 2019 . 2 min read

You’ve probably recorded a song or two — or a hundred. You might even have built your own home studio. But if you’re just starting out, you should know how to record electric guitar at home.

Frederik Nielsen
May 21, 2019 . 3 min read

Bohemian Rhapsody” does an excellent job of recreating Queen’s performances. As many critics have noted, Rami Malek is on point as Freddie Mercury. But, Gwilym Lee,

Alec Plowman
May 4, 2019 . 3 min read

I came across a video of English guitarist Jon Gomm tuning his guitar in the middle of a song. My band didn’t believe me when

Frederik Nielsen
Apr 27, 2019 . 2 min read

We have received a lot of love from Roadie fans over the past years, so we thought we would give some back.

Frederik Nielsen
Apr 26, 2019 . 2 min read

It’s a well-established fact: having a routine makes your more productive. Chances are you already put this into practice when it comes to

Alec Plowman
Apr 5, 2019 . 3 min read

What’s the best bass riff of all time? Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is certainly a contender. Cliff Burton’s chromatic

Alec Plowman
Apr 5, 2019 . 3 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!