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I want to start learning an instrument but because I live far from my country I'm looking for self-study.

I'm choosing between my national instruments (Iranian), which some like Oud or Kamancheh are fretless and some like Tar and Setar are fretted.

I like Oud myself but I'm afraid self-teaching a fretless instrument would be hard.

How different are they when it comes to self-learning?

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I suppose you could say that starting with a fretted instrument should be easier since you don't have to control the intonation as much as you have to on an unfretted instrument. However, you have less control of the intonation on fretted instrument so you should be sure to have a good quality instrument that is in tune with itself if you know what I mean.

To play an unfretted instrument it is important to develop a 'good ear'.
This takes time and much self discipline, but is well worth the effort in the long run.

Good luck in your endeavours.

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on fretless instruments you should know open string notes well in your mind and build intervals from them, so you should be ear-trained and educated to be aware of interval recognition, all instruments are basically the same when you play traditional tone system of half tones not semi-half quarter tones or even less as you practically can do on fretless instruments, never played a Setar, however I am sure if you cope with traditional solo guitar and violin you`ll be able to play on any strings if you have the desire and time enough

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