The 2008 NYC Fretless Guitar Festival

Michael “Atonal” Vick’s Fretless Guitar Festival slid into Manhattan’s Crash Mansion on September 20 and 21. Sponsored by Godin Guitars, Vigier Guitars, SmoothBoard, D. Fialho Guitars, and, it was notable for its musical diversity, and the unusual instruments on display. The festival featured (among others) Adrian Romero performing classical compositions on a fretless Flamenco guitar; Simon Yu’s Asian-influenced fusion, essayed on a double-neck with a microtonal neck joined to a fretless one; as well as Ned Evett rocking out with six strings, and Michelle Webb (above) improvising freely on 14.
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The roster included well-known figures—Elliot Sharp, host Vick, and Evett—as well as up-and-comers Yu, Webb, and Consider the Source’s Gabriel Marin. Over two nights, the intonation ranged from outstanding to the occasional “ouch,” but the general fearlessness of guitarists playing live “without a fret” was universally inspirational.