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A couple of questions... fretless and sustain - mutually exclusive?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WarwickNut, May 30, 2007.

  1. WarwickNut

    WarwickNut Homer mad, Homer smash! Grrr...

    May 21, 2007
    North Texas
    I'm saving up to someday purchase a Warwick fretless (I fell in love the first time I saw one!) and I was wondering if and how the flatwound and fretless combination affect a bass' sustain. Should I expect the sound to be a little or alot duller?

    The reason I ask is, say I hit the 9th fret on the G string (roundwound D'Addario), I expect it to sound out for a bit (nothing outrageously long, it is a bass after all!). Can I expect the same sort of reaction on a fretless with flats or will the note just fall right off?


  2. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I highly advise you to try a set of flats before committing.

    Part of why i have 2 electric basses strung with flats is for the thumpier tone of them. I haven't really ever thought it in terms of sustain.

    There's strings that can do a compromise such as GHS Brite Flats and other ground wound strings.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    That's too hard to answer in isolation. Fretless sustain depends on string choice, setup, bass and technique.

    If you want to maximize sustain, I'd recommend as low a setup as possible and a string like the GHS black nylon tapewounds, which are basically roundwounds with a nylon wrapper. Of course, if you have dead spots on your neck, there's not much you can do.
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I don't fully agree to that- I usually use as low of an action as I can without excessive fretbuzz myself, but I have noticed that raising the action a bit can add a bit more sustain- maybe because there's more tautness to the string. Too low and the notes can choke out.

    If sustain is really important to you, I'd skip flatwounds altogether and get some nickel rounds or tapewounds as suggested. I can usually get about 7 or 8 seconds of sustain when fretting around the 8th fret on my fretless strung with nickel rounds. I honestly haven't found a use for more sustain than that other than when ending a song. I have a sound sample or two if you want to hear it.
  5. youll get alittle sustain, not near as much as a fretted obviously...but probably a good 3-4 seconds (rough estimate). I will say that you'll love playin fretless....i wish i had one :(
  6. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I don't get much sustain on my fretless Carvin with an ebony board and strung with flats. It is also set up with medium-low action. I'd say 3-4ish seconds of sustain is about right
  7. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    All of this is very dependent upon the bass/strings/technique you use. Certain basses are sustain machines regardless of the strings used. I have a fretless 6 that has amazing sustain with fairly old flatwounds on it and a fretless 4 with the same type of strings that has far less sustain. I also have a fretted 7 with the same string set that doesn't really have much sustain but yet is very punchy and crisp.

    If you can, try varying combinations of strings to see what works best in your case .... :cool:
  8. I've played Modulus, Warwick, Fender, Yamaha, and EBMM Sterling fretless basses. I've just received my Lakland 55-02 fretless bass with ebony fretboard. It's better than any other fretless that I've played as far as sustain goes.
    Defretting a bass will cause a decrease in sustain. If you really want to use flatwounds, I was told by a bass luthier that D'Addarrio Chromes are good for the neck and you don't lose all of your treble like with regular flatwounds.
  9. doctorjazz


    Oct 22, 2006
    Wilmington, NC
    For sustain with flats, I definitely wouldn't want anything softer than ebony, epoxy would be ideal. I played a Brice fretless with flats and a rosewood board... ouch.
  10. Like Bill Clinton once said, "I feel your pain.:bawl: "
  11. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I like Chromes on my project fretless P, which has good sustain. The biggest change, though, was moving from the stock MIM Fender bridge to a Gotoh 201. That added clarity, sustain, and punch. Of course, on a Warwick you're starting with solid hardware so that shouldn't be an issue.
  12. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 8, 2021

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