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Vigier Surfretter...cheap?

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  • Vigier Surfretter...cheap?

    Well I've wanted a Vigier Surfretter for some time now, being a big fan of Bumblefoot's fretless playing and had even talked myself into considering the few $3500 ones on Reverb (ouch!) but then suddenly the most unique part of the guitar appeared:

    An unused Vigier Excalibur neck from a nice guy in Sweden! For less than 1/4 of a full guitar!
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    Its a fretless with a type of cymbal brass fretboard which actually allows the strings to vibrate without finger dampening (a fair amount of gain and/or a Sustainer can help too). An older goldish 2005 version (the newer ones are more silver) and both have a big CF spar down the center and (I think) no truss rod.

    I think I'll build it up with a figured walnut body and a Hannes Schaller bridge (piezos?) and Schaller F series locking tuners (keeping with a Euro theme) probably one bridge pickup, maybe a BKP.




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  • #2
    Can you use regular strings? I wonder if the surface eventually becomes scooped due to finger vibrato and bends - similar to fret wear.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mick Bailey View Post
      Can you use regular strings? I wonder if the surface eventually becomes scooped due to finger vibrato and bends - similar to fret wear.
      I really have no idea, its a horse of a different color, so to speak. Also Bends are done like vibrato; on the strings axis, not by actually bending the strings! I imagine flat wounds would be easier on the metal, but I don't think many use those. I'll read up, Ron is really adept at this but has many Vigiers (including several double necks with conventional FR fretted versions) as he is sponsored by them.

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      here's a nice live take Ron does playing over a Satriani track (notice how he uses the included thimble on the lower neck to mimic a whammy pedal)
      Its all about legato on the fretless!

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      • #4
        What incredible playing. Makes me feel completely inadequate.

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        • #5
          Or inspired eh Mick? Well the neck arrived, well packaged and safe and I must say I am totally impressed with the workmanship! No wonder these guitars cost $3k minimum!
          The wood is beautifully seasoned and finished, with radii everywhere. The neck pocket is, of course, totally unique; I had thought it would be a Tele squared off but noooo its totally French! I'm going to generate CAD file in F360 or SketchUp so theres's a reference for what will fit this (at least the 2005 version that I have).

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          Nice synchronicity as the date stamp is for my sons 14th birthday, which was a quite happy day!

          The previous tuners (removed) appear to be Vigier OEM versions of Gotoh 360's which match the screw mount perfectly. I bought SG360-MG so they will lock and match the gold fretboard (more or less). I was never a fan of gold but I'm going to lean into this one and make a "Sun King" guitar with a ceruse Swamp Ash filled with gold powder and a yellow /orange dye fade (!).

          Thats a Russian made Padalka bass on the monitor for inspiration; they use nothing but a very sharp chisel and cabinet scraper to make those amazing flowing lines!

          Now to find a Schaller Hannes bridge in gold, and maybe a gold Fishman Fluence...

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          • #6
            After watching more videos of Ron I get the fretless technique - it looks to be identical to a violin/viola/cello vibrato. I had to wince though when doing some searches I saw him playing 'Video killed The Radio Star' with Asia. Surely that must be the death of ambition for a virtuoso player?

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            • #7
              Oh thats not the half of it Mick! Poor Ron has had to tour the world with crazy Axl for about a decade to pay the bills, fought through a car accident that left him unable to speak or feel his hands for a long while and a bout with cancer too. All while retaining a wonderfully sweet and approachable disposition in spite of some crippling depression He even took a couple gigs with paid to play vanity band run by long island brothers who decided to spend the family's carry-out food container fortune to be "rock stars" (don't ask...)

              His original stuff is quite quirky and inventive but still adheres to classic song style, betraying his love of the Beatles and Kiss. Guthrie Govan also plays a Surfretter, affirming its requirement for extreme expert levels of skill to play well!

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              • #8
                I got in my nice piece of Swamp Ash from Cherokee Hardwoods in Upland CA. They shipped an 10 bdf 8/4 board of flat sawn S&SL1E for about $200 delivered and even though their spec is 13-16" wide they sent a 16" wide piece when I requested it, very nice
                Its easily big enough for 2 large basses but I'll just get a superstrat out of it for now.

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                • #9
                  Pretty enough for a natural finish too. If that's your inclination.
                  "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                  "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                  "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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                  • #10
                    I like the ceruse ash finish shown in the Padalka bass but not with a paint finish, so YES to a natural finish.
                    It will be with some darker pigment in the lowered grain, maybe gold flake and possibly sandblasted but more likely wire brushed. Maybe the grain going diagonal on the body relative to the neck (??) if Im feeling odd, as the neck/body will be stabilized with a 0.25" x 4" x 12" CF spar between the pocket and the bridge (hidden on the back of the body).

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