1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Advantages of a Fretless Neck

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wisconsindead, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. So what are the advantages of a fretless neck?

    No fret buzz, more comfortable for people who learned on double bass etc.

    Why do you or why would one prefer it?
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Ummm...they sound fretless?
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Thread done in one response. That's all there is to say.
  4. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    1) I never have to worry about the ins/outs of fret redressing or wear.
    2) I can get away with blaming my quarter tone intonation on "jazz" (only works if you have unlined neck)
    3) Puts an end to guitar players staring at my hands trying to figure out chord.
    4) No one wants to borrow my bass.
    5) No non-musician will ever talk to me about my "guitar".

  5. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    The quick resale turnaround.

    Wait...that's fretted basses.
  6. Markent17

    Markent17 Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2013
    Yes, they obviously sound fretless, but what does that really mean? My original motivation was that i believed fretless gave me more freedom to shape tones and express ideas; i viewed frets as an obstacle. But i also was into avant-garde music. And the very shallow me thought fretless basses just look stunning. And because appearance used to mean a lot to me, playing one made it apparent that i had truly mastered the instrument; pulling a fretless out of the case brought instant respect. Of course one has to back that up by playing well. I'm 60 now and couldn't care less, but those were the original motivations.

    The fretless sound is also very appealing and frequently sits in the mix more satisfactorily than a fretted bass.
  7. Along with no fret buzz, you also don't have to deal with fret issues/maintenance.

    Plus, when you slide from one note to another, it sounds way better.
  8. because I'm more engaged with the feel of the fingerboard and forming notes... I have to dig a little bit deeper inside myself to make it work
  9. MrYellow


    Dec 30, 2013
    Ok, let's take a look at this from 2 points, a) musically and b) practically.
    Music wise, the fretless has a very unique sound, its tone is often described as 'mwah', of course with some quick EQ adjustments, I believe you can get rid of this vocal effect, the lack of frets gives you a beautiful legato effect when you move across the fingerboard, a great advantage of this, is that you can get really nice horizontal vibratos and bend one or more notes a range of less than a quarter-tone to more than a full tone (But that would really just be sliding). Markent17 also brought up a good point that I agree to, that is, the fretless (can) grant you the freedom to be more expressive, the way you slide between notes at different speeds, pull off different bends and utilize legato creates tones and phrases not possible on a fretted.

    From a practical viewpoint there isn't as much, you no longer have to worry about fretbuzz and cleaning the fretboard is bit easier as you can access more of it, that's really all I can think of.
  10. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    I have a fretless because I feel like practicing with it improves my playing in different ways than practicing with a fretted. IOW, I like to practice with both.
  11. Advantages? Harmonic Slides. What other advantages could you ever need?
  12. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    Am I the only one that finds fretless easier to play?
  13. Thanks for the input.
  14. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    I found another advantage back in 73. It was Winter and I was playing a borrowed fretless Hohner. We would often come straight in from the cold, set up, and start playing straight off. As the bass warmed up to room temp, the tuning would drift. I found I could easily compensate by shifting my finger positions until the tune ended and I could retune. It was easy and seamless. Unfortunately, for me, the guy who owned it didn't want to sell. :(

  15. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Great excuse for playing out of tune.
  16. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Nope, the only people that find them harder to play are those that do not play them.
  17. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    Nope, same here.

    I find the feel of it much more pleasant and actually less confusing than a fretted. It makes me rely more on what I hear and where my hands are on the fretboard as opposed to feeling the little speed bumps as I move along.
  18. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I feel I'm more in control of the sound. Lots of tonal and articulation varieties. Ability to play in tune with other instruments that might vary their pitch. Greater sense of blending with different ensembles (I play with a lot of vocalists, and string sections).
  19. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    Fretless is way easier for me as well. Live performance is everything for me... looking at and making a connection with the audience. I usually go through most of the evening without a glance at my fretting hand. My arm already knows what position my hand should be in, and one note on a fretless instantly tells my ears what adjustment my fingers need. There's a constant play-listen-adjust feedback loop. I find with frets I'm more frequently glancing at my fretting hand as I don't get any sound info about if my fingers are drifting... until an unintentional note is played.
  20. MethodsofDance


    Nov 19, 2013
    Fluidity of playing motion and note expression.