2010s Fender Ed O'Brien (Modded) Fretless Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Alright -- yeah, the title is a mouthful! This is a Fender Ed O'Brien (Radiohead) Strat body with a built-in Fernandes Sustainer gizmo. These let you endlessly-sustain strings when they're running -- like an Ebow but on steroids -- but they're notoriously tricky to set up.

To this has been added a Mighty Mite replacement neck that I've fretless-ized (plus lines) for its owner. We've also fit a black pickguard and a replacement bridge pickup -- it came with a fancy 12-pole humbucker of some sort at the bridge when it arrived here and a bit of a mess in the wiring department under the hood.

So... it's a fretless electric guitar (wearing Pyramid flats)... that also has a Sustainer fit. Yes!

The idea is a ripoff of a Blake Mills baritone instrument with a similar setup and yet another customer of mine has me working on one of those. The trick with the Sustainer, though, is that it likes a hard contact point on the fretboard (you know, like a fret) to make the vibration of the string more efficient. Finger pads touching strings into a fretless fretboard is like using a damped, rubber fret... which cuts down on the "bite" of the Sustainer.

Fortunately, you can sort-of work around this by engaging it with some vibrato via your fingers or maybe borrowing a bottleneck slide to mix with your normal playing. As soon as you hit this with a slide or piece of metal against the strings the Sustainer kicks-in immediately rather than in a "subdued" manner.