Ok, fretless bass n00b question coming in. Got a fretless coming thru UPS in a couple o' days and it's the first one I've owned. It's used, so I'd imagine the strings will be a bit worn out. What kind of strings do you all use for a fretless? I'd imagine steels of any sort are out of the question. I'm wanting rounds to put on it, because I like the sound better. So what would be a good string that is easy on the fretboard but sounds good? Just wanting a good, clear fretless tone.
My lack of a signature is my signature.
I bought mine equipped with flats. I hated the feel of flats, so i rigged it with rounds. they started eating the fingerboard and before it became an issue, i switched to tapewounds. I'm using the black Fenders.
I've generally found rounds to be a little clacky on fretless. For a similar sound, but toned down a bit, I have GHS Pressure Wounds on my jazz style fretless and they're great. I also have Ken Smith Compressors coming in the mail to compare.
I have had my fretless for several months, and tried several sets I have on hand to see if one of them would work.
It came with unknown flats, which were fine, but not what I wanted to hear from this bass. What I tried were DR Lo-Rider nickel light, Dean Markley Randy Jackson signature, DR Black Beauties. Had each set on for one to two weeks. Each was fine, but not what I was wanting to hear from a fretless. The Jacksons stayed on longer than the others.
I ended up ordering a set of Dean Markley SR-2000 light gauge. So far, these have been closest to the sound I have been trying to achieve, so I am going to stay with them for a while. DR Sunbeams would have been next, and tapewounds after that.
I find it interesting (to me, at least) that I am happy using the same string on all my electric guitars (DR Pure Blues), but none of my basses have the same string (DR Black Beauties, Fat Beams, Lo-Riders and Flats, and now the SR-2000s).
__________________ “...and those who have not swords can still die upon them." - J.R.R. Tolkein | Praise & Worship Bassist Club Member #386 | Team Trace Elliot #92 | GK Club #940
Flatwounds sound completely crap and it feels like playing a sponge.
While I currently love TI flats I have played for years with rounds on my various fretless basses. Nickel rounds are what I used to like for that singing upper register tone that wasn't too hard on the fingerboard. I never could get with tapewounds, never felt right to me. If you must have that hardcore roundwound sound you can always epoxy your fretless neck and then use steels to your heart's content. I did that once and it worked but these days I like the uncoated sound with mid-heavy flats best.
in my experience, fretless basses are weird in that, if it's a good bass, just about any string works. you might have a personal preference when it comes to sound character, but even rotten roundwounds take on new life when you get rid of the frets...
whatever strings come on the Tony Franklin fretless (Fender nickels?) sound great. I think GHS Boomers are a good choice, too.
Mine came with TI's but they'd obviously been there a while and I wanted something with a little more tension - and it was either a string change or truss rod adjustment since the bass had been set up for a completely different climate...
I put on D'Addario half-rounds and I like them. Some people say the fingerboard material makes a difference, so I'll mention mine's macassar ebony.
I bought a set of Chromes to put on in case I found the half-rounds too bright - but I didn't, so they're still in my spares drawer... Chromes and half-rounds have similar voices if the D'Addario charts are to be believed.
I play fretless exclusively and I use D'Addario EXL 165 TP Nickel roundwounds. I had been concerned they would chew up my ebony fingerboard, but a little maintenance has avoided any major problems. I agree that most of a fretless sound comes from your fingers, more so than on a fretted bass. I haven't used other strings, but I like the brightness of the round wounds. I heard a guy play a fretless P bass that sounded amazingly like an upright. Great tune and he used tapewounds. I think it's a matter of personal preference and the style of music.
As well as personal playing preference it also depends on what sound you want and the setup of the bass.
Low action, skinny strings, and maybe rounds lend themselves to more mwah. Brighter flats work well too, and I think that works well taking the edge off harder fingerboard materials.
Old flats, higher action, for a more upright sound.
Or two basses, one with each setup. Just watch rounds on rosewood boards. I had to get a rosewood board fretless planed down, and then
I treated it with polymerising oils to toughen it up just a little, and swapped to TI strings on it. The flats are relatively bright, and the rounds have finer windings which seems to also damage a rosewood board less, and are relatively dark for rounds.
I tried a set of TruBass on a fretless acoustic and it was very reminiscent of an upright, but the E string had an odd phasing sound that would creep in about the 9th position (a loose wrapping, perhaps), so I swapped those out for a 10 year old set of TI flats and they sounded nearly as good, and I reasoned that I am generally breaking in a set of TI flats elsewhere, so will keep it fed over the years with new old flats.
Depends on the qaulity of the fretboard. Ebony is going to be best choice for fretless. Shows less wear then rosewood. Id use rotosound swing 66 myself just like a lot of fretless players. Developing light touch instead of heavy handed fretting makes big difference for potential fretboard wear to. Low grade basses like sx are going to have subpar woods and one could expect them to wear more then better qaulity woods fretboards. If you dont want stainless steel rounds might try halfround by rotosound or their nickel rounds.
Life for its own carnal pleasure sake. Bass Guitar: BC Rich warlock. Strings: Rotosound swing66. BC Rich club#26. Zoom club#2.
Like all string choices, it depends on what sound you want/like.
I LOVE the sound of Roto 88's (tapes) on my rosewood fretless Foundation. I might like something else on a different bass. I really want to see what the TI and LaBella flats sound like, but I just like these too much to experiment any more (at least on this particular bass). You'll have to experiment some and be willing to invest in a few different sets if you really want to find out what sounds are available to you on that bass.
Don't pay any attention to anyone who tells you something like, oh, "Flatwounds sound completely crap and it feels like playing a sponge." Different basses will sound different, different players want different sounds, and different flats (and tapes and rounds) sound and feel REALLY different from one another.
Originally Posted by IamJohn
I heard my mom tell my dad she didn't want me listening to his Frank Zappa records... so I listened to his Frank Zappa records.
Last edited by Major Softie : 08-05-2013 at 06:40 PM.