After a cheap fretless Jazz. Squier, Vintage or Harley Benton?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hugh9191, Jan 15, 2014.


  1. Hugh9191

    Hugh9191

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Hi,

    I'm looking for a cheap fretless jazz bass to try as my first fretless.

    I love Jaco's tone but I appreciate that most of that is in his playing rather than his gear but a jazz is a good place to start. I like the jazz sound and feel.

    The options I've found are;

    Vintage Fretless Icon
    http://www.thomann.de/gb/vintage_vj96mrjp_fretless.htm
    I've not found much about these but what I have found seems to be positive. Has anyone played one of these?

    Squier Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz
    http://www.thomann.de/gb/fender_sq_vm_jazz_bass_fretless.htm
    These seem to be popular but seem to have mixed reviews about the fretboard.

    Cheap Harley Benton Fretless Jazz
    http://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_mb222t.htm
    Thomann do a fretless version of the bass above which, I'm told, will be back in stock in mid Feb. Has anyone played one of these (fretless or fretted)?

    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Would I be better getting the Harley Benton to get a feel for fretless and upgrading later if I like it or getting one of the other 2 and holding onto it for longer?

    The basses all do look very similar - sunburst jazz with no pickguard but that's just because those are what seem to be available. I'd be up for other looks.

    If anyone has any other suggestions I'd like to hear them too. I live in the UK which narrows my options somewhat though.


    Thanks

    Hugh
  2. Syxz_ML

    Syxz_ML

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I own a Squier VM Fretless. I honestly like it and think its a really well built bass. Soon after purchase I came upon a custom fretless some guy was selling and it was an excellent built bass so thats my main fretless now. But fretless isnt for everyone and you might try it and not like it. Although I've never seen the Harley Benton it's so cheap it might be worth it just to see if you like a fretless feel first.
  3. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Good question. I'm also in the UK and interested in a fretless at some point. The Harley Benton one you linked to seems to be a fretted Jazz though - did you mean this one?

    They also do it as a 5-string, which I'm definitely interested in. I'm a happy Thomann customer, although my Harley Benton experience is limited to an electro-acoustic mandolin I bought just before Christmas. I know nothing about mandolins so it could be terrible in comparison to most, but I'll say the finish is a bit rough but it plays and sounds surprisingly well. I've used it live a few times with no problems. If the basses follow the same pattern of "rough around the edges but gets the job done" then I'd consider them. Getting a decent user review seems to be difficult though.
  4. Wallace320

    Wallace320

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Location:
    Milan, Italy
    Is a very well acclaimed brand especially at you Albionics: in my restricted experience, whenever you appreciate something, it's for a reason;)

    Infact the bass sounds pretty well, is pleasantly resonant and if fit and finish aren't your present concern (it's really a Jaco's knockoff in a way) that's the bass you should look for.

    Squier Vintage Modified fretless is almost perfect in its sellin' offerin', but if you're ok with the neck (sometimes hit or miss with Vintage Modifieds) the agathis body doeasn't resonate that much really: that's a very important thing to consider, especially in a fretless bass.

    Cheers,
    Wallace
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Location:
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    Jaco's 'voice', on the instrument was truely the work of his hands and his amazing musicianship. However, his tone was the product of his gear to a large degree. I think the big factors were his Acoustic 360 amps (pretty clean and hifi compared to the tube amps of the day), his use of the solo'd bridge pickup almost exclusively, and the epoxy coating on the fretboard.

    None of the basses you highlighted appear to have a hard epoxy finish on the neck. Conventional lacquer will not hold up as long, though the 'mwah' will be there.
  7. Hugh9191

    Hugh9191

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Thanks, good answers so far.

    The harley benton I linked is what I think is the fretless equivalent. The one I was looking at isn't listed on their site at the moment but will be coming back mid feb (so I'm told). The harley benton is a sunburst fretless jazz with no pickguard.
  8. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Queens
  9. Wallace320

    Wallace320

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Location:
    Milan, Italy
    there's one in a shop here in Milan, Italy, close to inexpensive!

    thing is
    it sports only side dots, in fret places (that's fine) but with no other inlay to point out where you're at durin' a song:meh:

    Cheers,
    Wallace
  10. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Location:
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    Tell that to the DB crowd. :bag:
  11. Gorn Captain

    Gorn Captain Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Queens
    Another silly thing about the ESP, there's side dots at every fret, rather than 3, 5, 7 and so on. It was hard to deal with. You can always white-out the extraneous dots, but lines do make things easier. That whole line of ESP 204/214 PJ's are really great basses for cheap. Very well made.

    Good looking too
    [​IMG]
  12. MethodsofDance

    MethodsofDance

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    I'd go with the Squier VM. I don't know anything about Harley Benton so I can't suggest it or otherwise, and I'm not really a fan of basses that have fake aging, but then again if uits a better bass...
  13. MethodsofDance

    MethodsofDance

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    That LTD P/J looks really good, I was wanting to try one for ages but there doesn't seem to be any in the UK currently.
  14. Nick303

    Nick303

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    I have the VM fretless Squier and I can tell you that it's a good option. It's a genuine (licenced) Fender product, so it's pukka and my one was very playable out of the box.
    3 years down the line and the ebonol fingerboard is fine too, no signs of wear.
    The Duncan Designed pickups aren't the best I've heard, they are quite soft and gentle in conjunction with the fretless neck. I upgraded them. Saying that they are probably better than the other brands pickups.
    I might upgrade the bridge too, the stock one works just fine but is maybe a tad narrow.
  15. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Ah okay, I'll look out for that.
  16. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I did a quick Google and there seem to be a few available online, like this.
  17. MethodsofDance

    MethodsofDance

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    Nice. it would seem to be a steal for that price!
  18. kellyrojo

    kellyrojo

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I got a used lined Peavey fretless for 100$ used. It took a little work to get it up to great playing setup but it is awesome. Just an FYI cause they are out there for that cheap!
  19. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Not over here... at least not very common.
  20. Hugh9191

    Hugh9191

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    This is the Harley Benton bass, it's reappeared on the Thomann website due to arrive mid feb. It looks very nice for the price but don't know what it would actually be like in person. It contains wilkinson pickups like the vintage.

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_jb_40fl_sb.htm

    [​IMG]
  21. Neener

    Neener Grumpy Old Dog Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, PA
    My Squier VM fretless. It plays-feels-sounds, and looks better than the price would suggest. It's not a bad choice at all.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

Share This Page