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5 string fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by El_Bunto, Sep 27, 2002.

  1. as my next bass i am planning to get a five string fretless and was wonderin what would be a reasonable price for a good one. im not too fussed over the manufacturer, i just want a good five string fretless.
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    The sky's the limit, so they say.

    That aside, it really depends. I hear the MTD Kingston fretless is supposed to be quite good. It would retail at $659 US, so I imagine it would be about $500 to buy. In England, I don't know if they are distributed there.

    Hopefully people who have played more fretless 5s will be about shortly.

  3. lpbassics

    lpbassics Guest

    Jan 26, 2002
    i'm also interested!

    i was thinking of going with a corvette standard, although i still have to find a store to play on one, but i liked the thumb, xept its price.

    another question tho:

    I was just going to get it unlined even though it would be my first fretless, is this a good idea? I figured once i got the hang of it, it would end up being cooler if you know what i mean!

  4. Well, I like the pentabuzz, but if price is a bigh concern, I would be very tempted to try a brice bass. I bet they are nice for the money.
  5. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    One thing I considered before ordering my new fretless is scale length. My basses - except a Fender P - are 35". My thinking is it should be best to stay with one scale length, especially for fretless basses. Practicing to get good intonation should be easier if the neck length is the same. I'm sure many can make the adjustment when switching between basses, but I'm afraid I don't practice enough to cope with that additional difference. 35" fretless basses don't seem to be that common though, at least not lower priced ones. Just a thought.
  6. I've got a StingRay5 Fretless that I think just kicks butt.
  7. Well, you need to narrow it down a bit for us to really be of any assistance!

    The biggest help for me would be a price range (in US $ please, pounds confuses my poor dumb American brain! ;) ), there are very good basses in several price ranges.

    Quick answers (these are "street prices", not list):

    Under $1000: MTD K5, Lakland 55-01.

    $1000-1500: Lakland 55-02, Ernie Ball Stingray 5

    $1500-2000: Elrick Gold Series Bolt-on or NJS (basic, no fancy tops)

    $2000-3000: Zon Sonus, Elrick Hybrid, Roscoe LG 3005 or SKB 3005, Lakland C/S/D 55-94, Pedulla Pentabuzz

    Shoot the moon: Fodera, MTD (USA), Elrick Neck-thru or single-cut

    There are a bunch of other questions: What kind of tone are you after? Single or two pickups? Passive or active? Is a fancy wood top important?
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    This here Dean Edge cost me about $450 a couple years ago and I've been tickled pink with it. Plays, feels, and sounds wonderful.


    It's no botique instrument but it gets the job done.
  9. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Would someone with experience address this question please? I was going to go with lined for my first fretless but if the consensus is that unlined isn't much harder I might consider it. Any opinions?

    brad cook
  10. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i recently bought a fretless warwick that was not only unlined but 6 string. i thought it was going to take forever to get comfortable with.

    but then, after playing it for a day or two, i was noodling around on it without looking at my hands, and when i checked 30 seconds later, i was dead on. and now i don't have to look to play it up until after the octave. so if you have a good physical memory of where the notes are (and dont' go to something with a different scale length than you're used to!) unlined should be fine.

    and btw - you should play a fretless warwick if you get the chance. buttah.
  11. ...the first time you get on a stage with a bad monitor mix, you will LOVE your lines. I've found that as long as I can hear myself well, I hardly ever "peek", but once things go south in the onstage mix (which is more often than not, IME), it's comforting to know I can glance down and confirm where the heck I am on the fingerboard once in a while.

    Just because you have lines doesn't mean you have to constantly stare at them.

    ...besides, Jaco had 'em! ;)
  12. As far as lines vs. no lines, I lerned on an unlined, but prefer a lined fretless.
  13. Go for unlined. It looks cool and impresses people.

    And that, after all, is what playing fretless is all about. Don't listen to all this stuff about mwah and expressiveness. If you wanted to be expressive you'd play a trumpet or saxophone. The point of bass is to thump, not to help you bare your innermost soul.

    The point is that fretless looks difficult, like a REAL musical instrument, not a bass. Looks are everything.

    So go unlined.
  14. Having said all that, I find it just as easy to place my finger in a bad mix using side dots as I do using lines.

    All other things being equal, I would choose unlined as I do find lines slightly distracting, but it would never be a deciding factor in my choice of a bass.

    It really comes down to what you are comfortable with.
  15. Have owned a lined fretless 5string Wal which was easy to play and had a wonderful tone. But is was heavy [11.5lbs] which was the only reason why I sold it. Speak to Pete Stevens at Wal and he will give you all the advice you want.

    Am having a 7 string fretless made at the moment by Martin Peterson at Sei Bass. It will have an ebony freboard but with black lines so it will look unlined from a distance. To help me further I am having Leds on both the side of the neck where the fretlines will be and on the face. These Leds will be behind dark smoked lenses. This will again not show from a distance untill you switch them on. Good for effect but will also help you find the lines.

    As already said If your foldback is ok unlined is not a problem but if you cannot hear yourself then lines or dots on the top of the neck are useful.


    Speak to Pete at WAL [01494 4429225] or Martin at Sei BASS [020 7 267 5458] either will give you very honest and straight advice.
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Don't worry about having trouble with an unlined neck, you'll be fine. That Dean up there was my first ever fretless and I had no trouble adjusting to both a 35" scale and no lines simultaneously. Personally I think unlined necks look much nicer than lined ones.
  17. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    I'm with Gard on this one! I've played many a gig where I couldn't hear myself at all on stage. At least the fingerboard lines allowed me to play decently in tune. Also I like the lines because peolple come up and ask questions like: "How do you make that fretted bass sound like a fretless?":p
  18. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    If someone else hasn't already suggested it to you, try out a Cort Curbow fretless. Good quality-to-price ratio and it lasts a long time that good ol' luthite.
  19. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    That is why I prefer lines. I have a lined and an unlined. I can play both pretty much in tune, when my ears are working;). But when playing in a situation where I cannot hear myself, or when I have those bad ear days, lines are nice to have for reference.

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