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Has anyone ever seen Frank Zappa's fretless guitar? What did it look like?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ParloFax, Sep 23, 2015.

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  1. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Perhaps Dweezil used it on his last "One Size Fits All" tribute tour?

    IIRC, it was a prototype which Gibson lent to Zappa. Then they scrapped the project and let him keep it under the condition that he would have the Gibson name taken off the headstock.

    It had a very special sound ("San Ber'dino"... "Down In The Dew"...), and the more so under Zappa's fingers!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  2. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I just saw Zappa Plays Zappa last week. Dweezil was playing one of Frank's Gibson SG's with a custom neck, but the neck had frets.
     
  3. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Is it still the tour where they play the entire OSFA album? Did Dweezil use a slide to replicate that sound of the fretless guitar?

    Also played on "Can't Afford No Shoes" BTW (the solo).
     
  4. Sordel

    Sordel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Not pertinent to your Zappa question I'm afraid, but I found this video very interesting about the potential of fretless guitar. If you haven't seen it, it's very worth watching.

     
    warewolf95, drasil, Dino and 4 others like this.
  5. cb70

    cb70 Forum Resident

    I ripped the frets out of one of my Strats a few years back, sanded the neck a little and put on flatwounds. Nice sound and easier to play then you'd think. Lennon also had a fretless around '68/'69 as evident in one of the Kenny Everett interviews. Wonder where his came from.
     
    ParloFax likes this.
  6. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    The guitar you are thinking of is not a Gibson.
    It was made by the company "Acoustic" who also made amps which Zappa used.
    He bought it at Mani's guitar store in new york.
    Acoustic had insisted that the name be scraped off as they were not happy with their creation.

    Zappa put a Barcus Berry pickup in it for recording with.
     
  7. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Yes, the show opened with One Size Fits All in its entirety. The entire show was over 2 1/2 hours with not break. Dweezil played some slide.
     
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  8. pbuzby

    pbuzby Senior Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    In The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa liner notes from 1987, FZ wrote that the fretless guitar was stolen from him after he did the recordings.
     
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  9. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I could be incorrect about the guitar. I have some great photos taken from the second row, but can't figure out how to post them!
     
  10. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Amazing how this guy looks and sounds (speaking voice) like Ian Anderson as a young man!

    Great stuff to learn here, great guitar player, thank you!
     
    zphage likes this.
  11. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Location:
    B.C.
    Upload them to a place like Photobucket and then you can copy and paste here.
     
  12. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes Acoustic, not Gibson (sorry folks!)...

    But if Zappa had bought it, why would Acoustic have anything to do with it any longer; it belonged to him, no? I can't find the story he told himself about it, in some interview. It doesn't look like it's in his autobiography...
     
  13. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    It was already without the logo when Zappa got it.
    He walked into the store and Manny said something along the lines of "Have I got a guitar for you!".
    He related the story to Frank of how Acoustic made the prototype but were so ashamed of it that they scraped the logo off it.
    It seems odd that they would let it leave their workshop at all, but that's the story that Zappa told.
     
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  14. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    edenofflowers likes this.
  15. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Great, thanks!

    So that's probably the famous Black Widow he also plays on a couple of studio tracks from SUAPYG. I hadn't made the connection before... nor noticed in fact that the slide effects were a little bit peculiar on these...
     
  16. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    [​IMG]
    If I did this correctly, here's a photo of the guitar...
     
  17. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    [​IMG]
     
    Dino likes this.
  18. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    If you google "mothers of invention 1969" you will see a few pics of Lowell George on stage with the mothers using a fretted Black Widow too.
     
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  19. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK

    That's the prototype of the Zappa SG signature model.
    Totally different to the fretless guitar being discussed, but an awesome guitar all the same.
     
  20. snigglefritz

    snigglefritz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Right, it's not the fretless guitar. It's the one he was playing last week.
     
  21. kevywevy

    kevywevy Forum Resident

    FWIW Godin guitars make fretless electric ouds that are pretty close to a fretless electric guitar.
     
  22. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Got it. Thanks!
     
  23. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    And what is that "block"-like gizmo he holds over the pick-up at one point, with his picking hand? How does this work to make a guitar sound like that?
     
  24. vudicus

    vudicus Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    That is an E-bow.
    You place it over a single string and the magnetic pull causes the string to vibrate and creates a huge amount of sustain.
     
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  25. Mark Snowden

    Mark Snowden Forum Resident

    Location:
    Devonshire
    I got Dweezil's latest album through pledge, he showed off a fretless electric in one of the update videos, but I think it was new, not an old guitar of his dad's.
     
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