Ned Evett
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Ned Evett

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The best kept secret in music


"Fretless guitar goes mainstream?"


Ned Evett & Franck Vigroux

3 stars (out of 5)

Evett & Vigroux met in 2001 at La Nuit De La Fretless (“The Night of the Fretless”) in Mende, France. A year and a half later the pair got together in the studio to see what would happen when their musical ideas were allowed to run free. What happened in that French studio that day is utterly spellbinding. Weaved through some of the most atmospheric soundscapes you’re ever likely to hear are the soulful musings of Ned Evett whose Kravitz-style voice helps to pull the often left-field fretless movement into the more listenable mainstream. With samples and textural effects throughout, focused listening is a womblike experience that’ll chill you out and have you reaching for this record for your audio nightcap.

Standout tracks: Frosty Roostertail, Submarines, Je me suis noyé

-- Benji Bartlett - Guitarist Magazine (Summer 2004 issue)

"Fretless wonder: Ned Evett makes his mark"

by Jennifer Gelband

Big things break for those who wait. Boise-based singer-songwriter and fretless-guitar pioneer Ned Evett has done the waiting, now he's getting a huge break.

This month, PBS TV stations nationwide, including Idaho Public Television, will air the film Driven to Play, a documentary that chronicles Evett's ascent to victory at the 2003 North American Rock Guitar Competition.

"It is definitely a big break getting that kind of exposure," Evett says over the phone. "That's a new thing for me. The coverage is nationwide, even Alaska and Hawaii."

Driven to Play airs locally on IPTV Channel 4 on June 20 at 9:30 p.m., but another perk of living in Boise now surfaces-we can get the goods early. Evett is hosting an advance screening of the film in conjunction with a live concert at The Flicks on Sunday, June 13 at 7 p.m.-one week before the program's national debut.

The half-hour documentary follows Evett and four other finalists in last summer's competition in Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo PBS affiliate charted the course to Evett's conquest alongside the other competitors in the days and hours leading up the competition. "The name of the PBS affiliate in Buffalo is WNED!" Evett says. "That's just too odd. It was either an omen I was going to win or I was cursed to lose."

Driven features interviews with organizers, competitors' family members and the panel of judges that included Canadian guitar legend Rik Emmett and David Letterman's guitarist Sid McGinnis.

Despite an apparent likeness to the national fascination with reality programming, the documentary is more personal and more informative. "It's not like American Idol, Survivor, or anything like that," says Paul Lamont, the film's producer. "They were all supporting and cheering each other on. It just shows what level the musician lives on-it's a very strong community."

And the strong community from Buffalo to Boise praises Evett's prowess. Though a Westerner, Evett felt that the Northeast was tremendously receptive to his style. "On a personal level, I felt really good," he says of his presence over yonder. "I did a tour there in February. I find the East Coast to be right on."

Evett also toured with electric guitar guru Joe Satriani not long before the competition. With Satriani, he entertained substantial crowds, which gave him an advantage at Buffalo's sold-out throng of 1,200 guitar enthusiasts. "I felt very comfortable there." Evett says. "It was a new environment for [other competitors]."

It also helped that most other guitarists were from the East Coast and had toted along entourages of friends and family. Evett went alone. "I was just by myself," he says smugly. "I stayed in my hotel room, watched The Sopranos and got very focused."

With his fretless guitar, Evett achieves his unique sound from holding the strings against a glass fingerboard absent of punctuating frets, so it's akin to a slide guitar.

Evett's effect stunned both the judges and the audience. "Every contestant had a 10-minute set," Evett says of his winning strategy. "Rather than do two five-minute songs, I did a [medley of a] fast one, a slow one and another fast one. I gave them the roller coaster ride they wanted."

Evett, with percussionist Nate Keezer and bassist Jim Monson, will take the stage for an hour-long concert at The Flicks that will include the same medley Evett performed at the rock guitar competition. Keezer and Monson are affiliated with other Boise-area artists but will tour with Evett this summer.

Also at Evett's screening/concert at The Flicks, local artists Lisa Pisano and Erin Holzer will premiere their short animated film How to Make a Friend (in less than five minutes). Pisano and Holzer, Snapdragon Productions partners, crafted and photographed this stop-motion film. How to Make a Friend was animated and edited by Andy Lawless and features original music by Pisano's husband John, owner of Old Boise Guitar Company.

Two days after the Boise event, Evett releases his third solo album, iStole, just in time to coincide with the national broadcast. iStole is a pleasant and engaging pop/rock collection that fuses catchy lyrics with the masterful effects of his fretless guitar.

And all you fretless fanatics, look for the date to be announced later this year when Evett appears on IPTV's public affairs talk show Dialogue. The episode featuring Evett is a special unplugged edition-different from the usual sit and talk format in that it features a variety of instrumental performances.

Tickets for the film premiere/concert are available at The Flicks, The Record Exchange, Old Boise Guitar Co., the Boise Co-Op and KB's Music Exchange. $7.50 general admission. $5.50 students, children and senior citizens 65 or older. - Boise Weekly (June 9, 2004)

"Boise Guitarist Breaking Barriers"


By Dusty Parnell

In describing Boise guitar player Ned Evett, one critic says he "breaks all existing fretless-guitar barriers."

I suspect most people didn't know there were barriers to be broken. And others probably didn't even know there were such things as fretless guitars to begin with. Especially the glass-necked one Evett invented for himself and had custom made.

"I began to get tired of wearing out wooden finger boards," he said.

That also gives this unique songwriter a unique sound. And his talents have him receiving accolades from critics and musicians across the country.

Boise's Built to Spill frontman Doug Martsch calls him a "virtuoso hotshot guitar player," and "Late Show with David Letterman" lead guitarist Sid McGinnis said, "He has taken the slide guitar concept and flipped it over to where it's as if he has glass slides on all of his fingers."

McGinnis, who was also a judge at last year's North American Rock Guitar Competition (which Evett won), said after the event that playing a fretless guitar would frighten him.

More likely it was Evett's guitar that was frightened the day he took a pair of pliers and ripped the frets out. He's never looked back.

"After I made it, I really developed an affinity for it," he said.

And there are very few people with an affinity for fretless guitars. The short list of people you may have heard of includes people like Frank Zappa, Jaco Pastorius and Adrian Belew.

"It's a lot like playing slide guitar with your ears, but playing fretless bass with your fingers," Evett said.


Like most guitar players, Evett first picked up the guitar as a teenager. At 15, he was playing classical guitar and admitted he was "a terrible electric player for a long time."

The 1985 Boise High School graduate obviously got better at it, because until age 23 he was playing in cover bands -- R&B, classic rock and reggae. It was with the reggae band that he ripped the frets out of his guitar and played it on stage that night. "Keeping it real by keeping it on the stage," he said.

He liked Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and Brian May of Queen. He listened to everything from the Beatles and the Who to Radiohead. He particularly liked guitar players who wrote songs.

"Richard Thompson was a great influence," Evett said. "He's a phenomenal guitar player and a genius songwriter, so he had the elements I wanted to go for."

Evett's albums, meanwhile, are so diverse one to the next that it's hard to describe what it is he does. Is he jazz? A pop song writer? Alternative? Or just a thrash metal guitar player who does a lot of daydreaming on the side?

"I'm afraid of the word 'eclectic.' It's the kiss of death in the music world," he said, but dryly added later that he was "eclectic in a different way Š asymmetrical eclecticism." Another term that's been used is "slacker jazz."


Evett, now 37, has released six albums in five years, and his latest release, "iStole," just came out this week with national distribution.

And it's easy for me to say this album is the best one yet. And hardly "eclectic" at all. It's filled with well-constructed pop songs, several of which are bound to get airplay on college stations at the very least.

The title song is an amazingly great song, and I dare you to not hit the replay button after the first time you hear it. Evett says it's a song about "the theft of time" and "the classic labor versus management struggle." What it really is about is employer theft. The boss skips town without a word, but with plenty of company money in his pocket. And like many great songs, it only took Evett 15 minutes to write.

Even as a cleanly produced pop song album, with song titles like "Fly Myself to Sleep," "Shine Like a Diamond on Me," "Claim to Fame," "The Curse is On You" and "Token Hearted," it's hard to describe him. As soon as something comes to mind in how to describe him, it changes to something else. At one moment it's sweet and soaring, another time it might remind you why you ever liked hard metal rock to begin with. One particular bluesy guitar solo sounds like a cross between David Lindley and Duane Allman (and with just as much heart). Like one of his songs from a previous album, Evett has "never been in one place all his life, hoping for something he thought he could find."

I think you'll find that this album is a definite keeper.


The songs from "iStole" were mostly written on the road, particularly during the time he was opening for guitar maestro Joe Satriani. Evett would often call himself and leave song messages on his cell phone. This also forced him to finish songs, because his messages would automatically be deleted after 10 days.

Evett has more new songs he's developing, but right now he's working on setting up more gigs with his newest band mates, drummer Nate Keezer and bass player Jim Monson, both formerly of Marcus Eaton and the Lobby. The next recordings will probably be live works.

The trio played a gig at the Flicks last weekend that originally was supposed to be a CD, but there were recording problems. Too bad. It would have included the 10-minute medley Evett played to win last year's guitar competition. This will be a good trio though. And interestingly enough, Monson plays a fretless bass guitar. Evett also likes to play a fretless dobro.

The gig last week was in front of a supportive crowd who watched the PBS documentary (airing on PBS this Sunday), which Evett hopes will open some doors across the country and lead to more gigs, more exposure and some airplay.

I think that's something you can count on.

And if you're still wondering who this Ned Evett guy is, count on this:

"I'm a rock guitarist -- a rock fretless guitarist," he said. "A guitarist who plays the (blank) out of the guitar and sings."

It's that simple.

Right. If it was that simple, we'd all be doing it. - Idaho Press Tribune (June 18, 2004)

"Don't fret -- Ned Evett is happy with his niche as guru of the glass guitar"

News Pop Music Critic

"It's essentially a guitar without frets," deadpans Ned Evett, winner of the 2003 North American Rock Guitar Competition, part of the annual WNED Buffalo-Niagara Guitar Festival.

Well, yeah. That's one way to describe a fretless guitar.

Evett often speaks in Dadaist riddles, and that's appropriate: His guitar playing, as evidenced on the brand new "Ned Evett/Franck Vigroux" disc, suggests surreal landscapes, dreamy, Dali-esque vistas where ethereal glissandos float through fog.

It is unlike anything you've likely ever heard, and when Evett brought this oddly beautiful ethic -- along with the glass-necked Fernandes fretless guitar he designed -- to Buffalo last year, jaws dropped.

"Beautiful," decreed competition judge and "Late Show With David Letterman" guitarist Sid McGinnis. "Artistically advanced . . . inspired and inspiring . . . very unique and original . . . engages (the) imagination," gushed another judge, former Triumph leader and jazz-rock-pop fusion solo artist Rik Emmett. "Astonishing," opined Troy Nelson, editor of Guitar One magazine.

Evett walked away with first prize, not surprisingly, and in the time since, he's hardly kept still. He sells his Fernandes prototypes through his Web sites, and He hit the road with fellow virtuoso Joe Satriani, for 30 dates across Britain and United States.

He released a solo album, "Circus Liquor," which won critical acclaim around the country. And now he's launched a tour with fellow fretless pioneer Vigroux, whom he met at a fretless festival in France.

The pair perform at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Broadway Joe's, 3051 Main St.

Evett, who lives with his wife and son in Boise, Idaho, and composes music for an interactive media company by day, has forced the guitar into the future with his recordings and live work. But his music is not likely to become a mainstream attraction. The fretless has its own tone and coloring, of course -- it sounds like a cross between an open-tuned slide guitar, a sitar, a sarod and a violin. But it's what Evett does with that sound that is truly astounding.

His collaboration with Vigroux yielded an album of largely on-the-spot improvisations, tunes that blend musique concrete, modal flights of fancy, Evett's bluesy vocals and Vigroux's left-leaning, esoteric noodlings. It's an incredible record, a veritable dreamscape of sounds, themes and fully composed pieces that run the gamut from psychedelic Delta blues to experimental noise-pop.

Not exactly the stuff you're seeing clogging up the higher reaches of the Billboard charts, but then, as Evett made clear during an interview with Idaho Public Radio in 2002, that's not necessarily a bad thing. "It's nice to be in a niche market," he said, before breaking into another spell of absurdist self-deprecation. ("The fretless guitar: slightly more popular than the harpsichord and every bit as challenging as the accordion!" he bubbled, in a faux-television-announcer-guy voice.)

No, commercial music this isn't, but anyone who spends time with the "Evett/Vigroux" collection is likely to fall under its spell, if they're willing to make the investment.

The album winds and twists like a particularly indecisive estuary, but if you're willing to travel without a map, it's quite the ride. "Je me Suis Noye" opens the record in an odd manner, as the guitarists provide an ambient bedrock, and voiceovers in English and French lend an unsettling text. The resulting piece posits "Evett and Vigroux" somewhere between the Mothers of Invention masterpiece "Lumpy Gravy" and David Sylvian's moonscape mantra "Gone to Earth."

Then Evett switches gears, offering a relatively straight blues, which suddenly veers off into parts unknown, as Vigroux's serpentine, "backward" guitar figures slap a soft focus on proceedings. "Doc Hanna's Blues," then, is a far cry from the beer commercial-variety urban blues that has sadly become the common trope for the form.

It gets weirder and more unsettling from there, and that's a good thing.

"Submarines" conjures, believe it or not, John Cage, with its random overtones. In this instance, Evett's glass-necked fretless suggests rims of glasses being rubbed in high-pitched glee, as his vocal -- doubled with an octaver for added dramatic effect -- dabbles in more Dadaist doublespeak.

On "Burning Man," Evett acts as a human beat-box, while Vigroux makes like a Delta blues banshee, his thick, fluid tone suggesting a trip through Clarksdale, Miss., by way of the Champs Elysees.

It's remarkable that an artist as boldly innovative as Evett ended up in Buffalo for a competition that is only three years old. He's a world-class talent, and since taking the prize in these parts, has begun making a name for himself around the globe.

On Tuesday, Evett and his four co-finalists in last year's competition will be featured as part of "Driven to Play: The North American Rock Guitar Competition," airing at 10 p.m. on WNED.

The documentary offers a cinema verite take on the days and hours leading up to the competition itself and mixes performance footage with profiles of the finalists and interviews with the judges, Emmett and McGinnis included.

Not surprisingly, Evett's gorgeous, glassy fretless tone is in full evidence. - Buffalo News (Feb. 13, 2004)

"“He’s kind of a pioneer fretless guitar player. He’s amazing, beautiful.”" interview - Doug Martsch of Built To Spill

"“Ned Evett plays a mirrored glass fingerboard in a completely new and exciting way. When you see Ned do it, you just have to bow down and say, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe somebody can do that.’ But it’s only part of what he does. I think the larger part o"

The Idaho Statesman, June 20, 2003 - guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani

"“Ned’s command of the fretless guitar is astonishing.”"

Guitar One Magazine Editor-In-Chief - Troy Nelson

"“Ned Evett will make you rethink the plucked-string instrument.”"

Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine Editor-In-Chief - Bill Piburn

""I was really impressed with Ned’s performance – it was beautiful. He has taken the slide-guitar concept and flipped it over to where it’s as if he has glass slides on all of his fingers.""

“Late Show with David Letterman” lead guitarist - Sid McGinnis

""Ned is a highly entertaining yet artistically advanced musician His approach is inspired and inspiring – very unique and original on a heavily modified instrument that produces a wonderful range of tones from his very personalized and adapted techniques "

Triumph founder and Canadian guitar virtuoso - Rik Emmett


* iStole (2004) --> get MP3s at
* Evett/Vigroux (2004) --> get MP3s at
* Circus Liquor (2003)
* Live in Paris (2001 unreleased promo EP)
* Fretless Guitar Masters (2001)
* An Introduction to Fretless Guitar (2000)


Feeling a bit camera shy


There's this vibe that hovers about Ned Evett like some force field out of "Star Trek." It gives you the distinct impression that Evett, the inventor of the glass-necked fretless guitar, is destined for greatness. Chat with him for a few minutes and even if you don't believe in fate, you'll feel the vibe. Hear him perform his music and it will resonate even deeper.

Evett is one of the world's foremost fretless guitarists, and the sumptuous sounds he seduces from his instrument's strings fuse rock and pop with jazz, blues, and soul. The lack of any interposing frets (the series of metal ridges set across a traditional guitar's fingerboard) frees Evett to play every note you can conceive of and all the ones in between. The net result, according to, is "like listening to a waterfall on fire."

Evett and his music are gathering increasing acclaim. Last year he won the 2003 North American Rock Guitar Competition -- a documentary about which called "Driven to Play" aired nationwide on PBS-TV this summer -- and he's earning the respect of a growing number of legendary performers. For instance, Grammy-nominated guitar-virtuoso Joe Satriani -- for whom Evett has opened 30 concerts in the U.K. and the U.S. in the last year -- says, "Ned plays a mirrored glass fingerboard in a completely new and exciting way." And Built To Spill frontman Doug Martsch describes Evett as a "virtuoso hotshot guitar player" and says, "He's amazing, beautiful."

Rik Emmett, Canadian guitar virtuoso and founding member of Triumph, says Evett is "a highly entertaining yet artistically advanced musician" and "his approach is inspired and inspiring." And Sid McGinnis, lead guitarist on CBS-TV's "The Late Show with David Letterman," describes Ned's live show as "beautiful," adding that, "He has taken the slide-guitar concept and flipped it over to where it's as if he has glass slides on all of his fingers."

Critics are also duly impressed with Evett's abilities and style. Troy Nelson, Guitar One magazine editor-in-chief, says "Ned's command of the fretless guitar is astonishing," and Fingerstyle Guitar magazine writes that "Ned Evett will make you rethink the plucked-string instrument." Buffalo News pop music critic Jeff Miers describes Evett as "boldly innovative" and "a world-class talent," and Guitarist magazine says "Ned's Kravitz-style voice helps to pull the often left-field fretless movement into the more listenable mainstream."

Evett, whose career spans nearly two decades, has recorded with dozens of bands and artists, including Maria McKee, China Forbes of Pink Martini, Rosalie Sorrels, and Built To Spill and its frontman, Doug Martsch. In fact, the song "Some Things Last a Long Time" on the 1993 Built To Spill album "The Normal Years" features the first recording of Evett on his trademark instrument.

Evett first began experimenting with the fretless guitar in 1990. "My first fretless guitar was a Fender Stratocaster that I hacked to death with a pair of pliers," he says. "If there could have been screams, there would have -- kind of like the sound a lobster makes when you boil it."

In 2000, Evett released his groundbreaking, experimental, instrumental-rock debut, "An Introduction to Fretless Guitar." The next year, he co-produced and performed on "Fretless Guitar Masters," the world's first compilation recording of fretless guitarists and the inaugural CD from his label, Recordings. Guitarist magazine gave the CD 4 stars out of 5 in the March 2002 issue.

Empty Beach Records, a Sun Valley, Idaho-based indie label, has released Evett's last three efforts -- "iStole," and "Circus Liquor," and "Evett/Vigroux" -- and plans to reissue "Intro to Fretless."

Evett, who hails from Boise, Idaho, tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe and has staged nearly 500 concerts and clinics in the last six years. In addition to Satriani, Evett has opened for such noteworthy artists as Jonny Lang, John Fogerty, the Allman Brothers Band, Chris Robinson, Dishwalla, Doug Martsch, John Scofield, Johnny A, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, California Guitar Trio, and Sex Mob.

He has also worked as a session guitarist and bassist. In addition to the Fox NFL 1998 season theme, Evett's guitar licks have been heard on numerous radio and TV commercials for such industry leaders as Microsoft, Toyota, Isuzu, Seagate, and Kaiser Permanente. And several of his songs were used in the independent short film "The Mulligan," which appears on the "Coldgrain" DVD (

Evett plays a Fernandes Fretless Native Pro with a mirrored glass fingerboard of his own invention, as well as stainless-steel and aluminum fingerboard models built by Fernandes Guitars and luthier Steve Abbett. Evett's line of Fernandes fretless guitars are played by such artists as Adrian Belew of the legendary progressive rock group King Crimson, Emm