Vassant Rai

Name: Fretless Guitar.
Type: Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Inventor: Vassant Rai [b. 1942 d. 1985]
Tuning: B F# B F# B E
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: This particular fretless-guitar modification was invented by Vassant Rai. Not the same as a scalloped guitar or a fretless guitar with its frets-removed. However this particular type of fretless guitar has a sarod plate shaped and fitted to where the guitar finger board would be. Strings are kept the same as a conventional guitar. There are no chikari [drones] or tarab [sympathetic] strings in this modification. Suitable for sarod playing on a regular guitar although the tone as performed on Vassant Rai’s instrument is quite deep.

Tuning: Vassant Rai tuned his modified guitar by keeping E and B strings are the same. The third string is lowered a half step to F#. The fourth, fifth and sixth strings are tuned B, F# and B, respectively.

Citations: Notes and interview extract from the Raga Records Vassant Rai CD by Ira Landgarten [raga.com].

Youtube: Vassant Rai performing Alap in Raag Darbari Kanada, 1981.