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4 String Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by szego, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. szego


    Jul 26, 2004
    Ok, so, I was looking to buy myself a new bass, a normal 4 string fretted, but the price had just gone up in the one i wanted so i'm looking to buy something inbetween and was looking at an 8 string or a 4 string fretless, Just wondering what everyone's thoughts are on 4 string fretless basses, advantages or disadvantages, What genres and spots it works well in, and where it doesnt work well...etc, Post pics or leave model's if you have one you know is good.

    I would like to get something along the lines of a Jaco tone, but since his bass is far too pricey for me, anyone have an alterante way of getting that kinda sound?
  2. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I'm partial to Fender jazz fretless basses. Good uprightish thump if you want it, and you can get some good growl with it too. I've never played it with rounds, so I don't know how much mwah you can get out of one.

    A fretless can be suited to a lot of different styles. Jazz, pizzacato funk, world-fusion, and even a lot of rock styles can call for a fretless. Jeff Ament played a lot of fretless in Pearl Jam. So it's really a versatile instrument.
  3. szego


    Jul 26, 2004
    So you would reccommend buying it?

    If so, got any specific recomendations?
  4. szego


    Jul 26, 2004
    I've recently been looking at the Fender Jazz Fretless bass, but the Mexican version is crap, anyone know of a japanese version? or a similar type bass?
  5. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004

    I love my MIM Fender fretless jazz bass. That said quality is not as consistent as MIJ or MIA.
  6. szego


    Jul 26, 2004
    Hmm, i've heard otherwise from it, only heard horror stories really, then again the american is about 1.5k and the Japanese is nowhere to be found, anyone have any good suggestions besides Frender Jazz'?
  7. I own a MIM Fretless Jazz (the pickups, the pots and the bridge were replaced) and it's a beautiful instrument (and it cost me around 700 EUR used). It's strung with roundwounds and the "mwaaah" is unbelievable. I actually don't like the neck (I like Ibanez GWB necks very much), find it quite bulky, but the bass itself is priceless to me.
  8. szego


    Jul 26, 2004
    Well I plan on going to sam ash or guitar center or something soon, I'll try out that abnd see what else they have, but right now im playing an Ibanez SR300DXBK, which i like but has a pretty thin neck, So that might be something to factor in, oh and Does the MIM Jazz come with round wound strings? Because i bought flatwound for my ibanez ust to try it out and couldnt get used to them so i would prefer round
  9. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    MIM Jazzes come with Fender Flats. Remember, roundwounds will slowly but surely damage your fretboard. People play flats for years with little or no signs of wear, but expect a trip to the repair shop yearly if you use rounds.

    Fretless four strings are almost a necessity IMO. I had a four string fretless MIM Jazz and it was a great bass, sold it because it played second fiddle to my Vintage P-bass, but I started missing having a fretless around. So I dropped two bills on one of the BB404F's that Musician's Friend is clearing out for $199 shipped. They were once $450 basses, so I wouldn't shake a stick at that opportunity.
  10. stretch80

    stretch80 Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Peavey makes some nice basses that aren't too expensive, including fretless.
  11. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    i' ve been playing a 4 string fretless for the past 20 years almost exclusively and nobody noticed.
  12. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Using rounds will chew up a fretless board really quickly and is not a good idea unless you are sponsored ...or otherwise independantly wealthy!

    2 basses

    I just posted the same link in the DIY thread, but seeing as you asked ... it's the one on the right.

    Mity Mite Alder body nitro black finish, front rout, Duncan SJB1's , BA II bridge (not in this photo), MIM Fender lined fretless with stock keys and a graphtech nut. DIY assembly, Pro setup after I finished. D'Addario Chromes (my fav string on a fretless, yes even more than TIJF's which I like on fretted basses. Chromes are 'woodier' to my ear).

    About $400 into this one. and it smokes most every other fretless J I've played. The MIM neck is sweet. This is a phenomenally easy bass to play. As far as genre goes. It's open season. I wouldn't do hard rock covers with it but blues, my impression of jazz, r&B, songwriter duo stuff, dub. It works for all those easily.

    Fretless takes a little while to get going if you're a fretted player. I find the lines to be helpful when I'm practicing. A purist will tell you it's a bad idea and that your intonation should be exclusively by ear. I like the training wheels though! I play fewer notes fretless. Those notes are very percusive. A different and slower attack than fretted and generally less sustain. Kinda of approaching the upright vibe. I tend towards quarter note lines with a swing feel just by picking it up.

    Is it a necesssity, if you're a studio guy it sure is. If you're just a working stiff probably not. It will expand your voice and very likely your musicality though and for hat reason alone a 4 string fretless is a worthy addition to your quiver.
  13. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    No, the Mexican version is not crap, you just have to get the right one. My MIM fretless is amazing. All stock stuff on it, love all of it, except that the knobs turn a little too easily.
  14. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    A fretless 4 that really feels "right" to you can be a lot of fun.
    Playing a song with a "boring" bass line can be a lot more
    interesting on a fretless. When I got first fretless I
    didn't want learning to play it to be any harder than it had to be,
    so I got a 4 string to keep it simple. Basses with more than 5
    strings have their place, but a 4 will always be more fun to play for

    If you are playing original music, a fretless can lead to writing
    songs you never would have thought of. IMO almost any style
    of music can work with a fretless, though I wouldn't think a hardcore cover band would have much use for one. Great for any type of originals though.
  15. :cool: I used to have a Fender AmDlx fretless 4-string J-Bass. This only J-Bass I've ever owned that I really liked. It was great in feel, balance, tone versatility, and it looked great for a J-Bass. I sold it for stupid reasons.

    When I realized that I missed owning a fretless, and wanted a new one, I went looking. Since I really prefer P-Basses, I bought a fretless P-Bass. It's a '95 AmStd with fretlines. I've really enjoyed it since I bought it. It's got great tone and thump, like a good P-Bass should, but has that softer edge to it of a fretless. However, Fender doesn't make fretless Ps anymore, and hasn't for some time now.
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Hey Sammy,
    Your old Tacoma is about to become a fretless. I've been thinking about doing that for a long time. Now that I have a relationship with a decent luthier, I've run out of excuses. Still got my old Strat ? Mal
  17. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    +1 on that :D You can't beat a Yamaha for $200, definitely a great buy !!!
  18. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    I just ordered a P-bass style 4 string fretless SX yesterday.......got it just to mess around one, hopefully I'll like it.
  19. I've never posted before ... so I'm just coming out of lurk mode. I will say this about the MIM Jazz. I think they are useful as a building block. My one and only bass is a MIM Jazz, but it didn't start out as fretless. I put a Warmoth Fretless neck on it. Maple with Ebony Fretboard, and warmoth puts a nice fat slab of ebony on. I also put on some DiMarzio Jazz PU's, changed the pots, but I still have the original bridge on it. I just added a Hipshot Bass Extender. I sort of messed up the installation, so I only got 3 out of 4 screws in. The other one stripped. My guide hole was a little off. It works for me. I don't really have the "mwah" sound though. My sound is a bit odd for a fretless actually. I use Rotosound Jazz 77's, which are pretty bright. So I slap and do fingerstyle on it. I leave both pickups on and the tone all the way up, so I get a pretty clear tone. For the bump I usually just turn the Timber control on my new Thunderfunk. I just get wet everytime I play through that thing. My two cents.


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