Learning fretless on an unlined bass
I am getting ready to take the plunge and pickup a fretless bass and I have a couple question for those that started learning fretless on an unlined bass. Do you believe that going unlined was an impediment in learning fretless and if you had to do it again would you go lined or unlined?
I picked up a nice unlined fretless after playing for about 1.5 years. No problems here, wouldnt change it either.
I started on a unlined bass and I don't regret it. Factors in favor of an unlined bass are that the side dots are probably where your finger should be in that position (rather than between where two frets would have been) and that you'll have to use your ears for intonation. Ultimately, you have to use your ears anyway. Some people prefer the appearance of an unlined bass. Others like to bewilder guitarists who are trying to follow the bass player's finger patterns. I'm sure you'll hear from lots of folks who started off on a lined bass that it was no problem. I really don't think it's a big issue.
I went looking for a lined bass but the deal I came across when I was ready was unlined. No real issues. In my case, I have pretty good pitch and some (decades ago) concert stringed instrument (cello) experience.
I have no desire to replace my instrument with a lined one at this point, but if I came across a bass I really wanted and the only thing 'wrong' with it was it had lines, it wouldn't hold me back. They're just decoration at this point.
If you have good pitch, you should have no problems. It may help to work with a tuner for a while ;-)
It doesn't really matter that much one way or the other. The lines don't help you nearly as much as you think that they would.
Unlined, for sure.
Side dots are my reference points for fretless, not lines on the fingerboard. When playing fretted, I have to stay a wee bit behind the frets, so playing directly on them on fretless would be an extra challenge that I don't want to deal with.
All the best,
No issues learning on unlined for me. I didn't even know that lined fretless basses existed.
The real key is to spend some time on ear training so you can hear if you are intonated properly.
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