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Fret Free

The devastation of the Hermits Peak Fire is so extensive and has so deeply wounded the forestland I can't see it being a healthy place to live for decades. Too much ash. Too much risk of flooding and landslides the first time monsoon rains persist for consecutive days or weeks as they have occasionally in the past. FEMA is consuming precious time and testing my patience as they force me to jump through hoops too numerous and meaningless to keep track of. They want to send an inspector out to assess the damage even though it has been thoroughly inspected and documented by myself and by the insurance company. "It's necessary," they say to decide if I qualify for assistance due to being significantly underinsured—a side effect of inflation and timing as the policy review, update and renewal were to happen a few weeks after the fire roared across the property, the entire canyon, and almost 342,000 acres of surrounding forestland as of this blog post date. Nothing left of value remains there to insure.

With the fire now 93% contained, it seems pointless to fret about it. There's no sense rebuilding there before the terrain, flora and fauna are able to heal enough to hold down scorched soil now populated by nothing but charred sticks. I'm turning the bulk of my attention away from that scene of mass destruction and focusing on long-simmering interests and new creative projects. One of those interests has been tumbling around in my mind for about seven years and last week I made moves to satisfy urges to pursue it.

So no more fretting over what can't be undone and what has been lost. It's time to go fret free. And after two and a half decades playing guitars created by Jean Larrivée, including a custom-made cedar-topped C09E, I contacted Larrivée Guitars at their U.S. location in Oxnard to ask if they might be able to make another C09E designed as a fretless instrument.

Much to my surprise, Jean's son responded within a day and after talking with him about it they agreed to make one even though they haven't created a fretless instrument since the 1980s when they produced a fretless bass. I'm not a guitar maker but I'm aware enough about the process (in part thanks to a tour through Jean Larrivée's workshop when it was still located in Vancouver, BC) to know there are going to be nuances in the instrument construction project requiring research and consideration before starting the build. I also know that I know too little about the process of guitar making to poke my nose into Larrivée's business while they create the fretless version of this kind of guitar and will leave it to them, trusting their judgement and skill sets without reservation, to produce something glowing with excellence.

With that instrument ordered, I turned to searching for an electric fretless guitar because I've wanted to have one of those to play for as long as I've wanted to have a fretless acoustic. Weeks passed without finding anything of interest within my budget range until Google's AI noticed my recent search activity on the subject matter and fed me a video produced seven years ago by a company called Lava Drops. Their Unibody Fretless Drop was featured in the video with its designer playing the guitar to demonstrate it, and my mind was instantly blown on so many levels. I knew immediately that I had found the fretless electric I was begining to think might only ever exist in my dreams.

I don't own a Lava Drops guitar to photograph and post images of here, yet. One day, though, I will own one and will post photos of it here, and unless I'm a compete klutz at playing fret free then some new musical recordings created using these two new fretless guitars will be available on the music page too.

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