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Diffirences between fretted and fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Albini_Fan, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    Gasp! Yes, I am a newbie :p But latley, I have been fascinated with fretlesses. I have no idea why they are diffirent at all, but I think they look nice!
  2. On your fretted bass, the "frets" are all of the metal pieces that you press the string against to make notes. The fretless has no frets. You make the different notes by pressing the string against the fretboard in different spots. Normally, the fretless sounds different, and is often used to get a somewhat double bass or upright bass tone.

  3. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    Yeah, I know what frets are and do :p But thanks, anyways! Can somone just take the frets off a fretless, and achieve the fretless sound?
  4. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    There are literally hundreds of threads dealign with this. Do a search and piles of information will come your way! :)
  5. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Yes you can. any fretted bass can be made frettless. Just pop those suckers out,,,,well....take more care than that....do a search,,,please.....
  6. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    Can I delete this, or somone? I feel bad spammin' up the place ;P
  7. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    No problem - there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers :D

    Actually, Albini, fretless is rather different to fretted. For one there's the obvious difference that the fretless has no frets - therefore, in order to play in tune you have to be accurate with your fretting hand (rather like a violin, viola or cello player - though you don't have to be as accurate on a fretless bass as you do on a violin). You have to stop the strings at the points the frets would be, in order to play in tune. So, from that point of view, fretless is harder to play well.

    However, the fact of it being your finger, rather than a metal fret, stopping the string makes a significant difference to the sound.

    With a fretted bass, the string is being held against the raised fret, and so the part of the string that vibrates doesn't come into contact with the fretboard at all. Whereas, with a fretless, your finger is holding it directly against the fingerboard - which makes a big difference to the string's vibration, as it is vibrating against the fingerboard. This is what gives the "mwah" effect whereby the note "grows" after the string's been plucked.

    Also, because the pitch is defined by finger position, not the placing of frets - you can achieve "legit vibrato", like a violin player would. You can also do true glissandos (i.e. slides) on a fretless, which you can't on fretted.

    Generally, I'd say that fretless is a far more expressive beast than fretted. You have much more direct control over the tone with your hands. I think it's fair to say that it's harder to play fretless than fretted - but well worth it IMHO for the level of expression, and the tone.