Advantages/Disadvantages of going fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tyler_W, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. Tyler_W


    Jun 15, 2005
    Woodbridge, VA
    As most of you know, im looking to buy a Carvin bass. Im still debating if I should go fretless or not. Could somebody tell me the advantages/disadvantages of going fretless?
  2. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The advantages and disadvantages are going to be very situation dependant. What works for me won't work for you or someone else.

    If you don't know whether you want fretless or not, I'd recommend getting your feet wet with an inexpensive import fromRondo Music. The Essex and Brice fretless basses are a darn nice and inexpensive way to get started into the world beyond speed bumps.
  3. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    IMO it's not a matter of advantages... Fretless basses offer a completely different voice than fretted ones..

    Not better or worse.. Just different...
  4. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    • sounds different
    • plays different

    • sounds differnt
    • plays different

    +1 Mark.
  5. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    disadvantage : you have great success with it and love it and nobody notices .
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Hey doesn't that apply for all bass playing?
  7. jde303


    Jun 8, 2005
    I am a little confused by your caveat:

    If you already own a fretted bass and want to purchase another bass go fretless. This will spice up your Bass life.
    If you don't want to spend do much then EBAY. You really do get to try things out for less.

    If you get it and hate it (or more likely never find the time to really learn how to play it) then EBAY it back!!!!

    THe power of EBAY. You never really buy anything, you just seem to rent it.

    John :0
  8. +1!!

    Like most aspects of bass playing, skill with a fretless will only really be appreciated by other bassists. You may find the rare non-musician who can appreciate the difference in sound, but don't expect many people to compliment your fretless ability. Most people don't know what frets are or what they do, much less the difference in a fretless and a normal bass.
  9. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I don't know if it is a disadvantage, but one of the things that happens is that you may be focusing on each note, and small intonation adjustments, as opposed to scalar/chordal things. It certainly could kickstart your melodic side, but I think that the attention to detail and the need to be right on the pitch all the time, not just between the frets, means that there is a different approach needed. Depending on where you are with your playing and what kind of gigs/projects you are doing the change to fretless could be a big boost, a big distraction, or just a new sound.
  10. Advantages: Fretless is wonderfully expressive, very versatile and a superb instrument for melodic playing. Fretless can bring tears to your eyes and joy to the heart.

    You can get that lovely "mwah" sound.

    Disadvantages: Playing out of tune. You WILL play out of tune, now and then. These are called "performance errors". Your guitarist may hate it and complain.

    It's difficult to play chords.

    Fretless basses are difficult to play in a band when another guitar is out of tune with itself and/ or other instruments.

    Differences: Doesn't have the attack of fretted bass, so turning the amp up or boosting the mids can help.

    That'll do.
  11. Advantages:

    1.) It may help you to develop your ear.
    2.) If you play something well on a fretless, it impresses the tar out of some people. :cool:

    But, we are bassplayers! We do not seek praise!


    Right. :D

    Mike ;)
  12. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    But chords sound soo sweet on a fretless.
  13. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    San Antonio
    If you can play them in tune :) I have a hard enough time with double stops.
  14. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    the main thing of fretless is intonation

    But fretless is fun to play and adds a special sound, i love it. :cool:
  15. DrewBud


    Jun 8, 2005
    Fretless is gives an ability to sing and expressivness that just cant be found in fretted basses. I would definetly recommend getting one.

    You do have to spend a decent amout of time shedding just to get your intonnation up to par. and be ready for any out of tune guitar player to blame you (and unless you're playing long notes staring at a Tuner you do't really have the right to argue).

    I've played fretless for a long time and once you are used to it it can 'almost' fully replace a fretted in regards to tone and sound. Now I use it to get a really clear, cutting, vocal like effect for bass melodies and slower songs where you can take advantage of the differences.

    My thoughts are when just laying down grooves on it, if no one can tell I'm playing a fretless then I'm doing it right. Then I can pull out the cool "fretlessness" licks when I want them to know.
  16. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Another disadvantage is that you need to be able to hear yourself to play in tune - that means you need good stage sound. Another advantage is that it's easier to make the transition to DB because you're at least used to hearing whether you're in tune or not.
  17. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Did you say "NORMAL BASS"?? It's o.k, I know what you meant!

    While I wouldn't consider fretless basses ABnormal ;) it is not considered the standard. If you don't know that you want a fretless bass for sure then you probably don't want it. Fretless basses are more difficult to play. Players that can take and apply a fretted aproach and sound on a fretted bass have had to put their time in for sure. In general a fretless bass' benefits can be enjoyed more in a musical invironment that has more "space" or "room" to allow it's melodic character to come through, the notes can take longer to form and take shape and this isn't always a good thing, but in the right situation in the right hands it can be a beautiful thing. But like anything there are always exceptions.
    The comment(s) about making the transition to UB easier are just rubbish, IMO. They are two completely different instruments, period! The technical work needed to properly learn UB will allow the student sufficient time to develop the hearing neccesary for proper intonation. Intonation on UB comes through technique not through the excercise of "fishing" for notes.
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I find the biggest difference to be in attack...on my fretless, it takes longer for notes to open up, making it great for slow and mid tempo stuff, but a struggle for the quicker stuff.
  19. Tyler_W


    Jun 15, 2005
    Woodbridge, VA
    Alot of you have been talking about playing out of tune and stuff... Luckily, its not gonna be a problem because I play DB :cool:

    thanks guys, I shall be ordering my fretless B-4 from Carvin in a couple of months :bassist:

    Ninja Edit:

    Would a fretless bass sound good for my playing style? (power metal, christian, jazz)