Fender Fretless Jazz..,addiction?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adk teleman, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. adk teleman

    adk teleman

    Aug 28, 2011
    Alex Bay NY
    Spector Basses, La Bella Strings
    I’ve played bass for 45 years. I have a Fretless Jazz Bass which I love, but only use on occasions. Well, recently I’ve been playing my Fretless exclusively and finding a thrill that I haven’t felt in years! It’s to the point that I’m seriously thinking of only playing this from now on. It feels effortless and I find I’m trusting my ear much more and my lead vocals are much easier when I play the Fretless. Who else had this kind of experience ?
  2. WillyW

    WillyW l’art pour l’art, fonction de baise Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2019
    I think I have an almost 3:1 fretless ratio in my collection.

    Fretless is refreshing and fun, and hard to put down.

    When I’m learning new things I start out on fretted, then transfer over to fretless.

    I think I’m close to being confident enough to perform exclusively on fretless. When that happens I may cull the fretted collection even further.
    CaribooBass and roccobass like this.
  3. nonohmic


    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    I bought a fretless about 6 months ago. The pull is real and I love it.

    I now also really enjoy going back to fretted and just rocking out.

    But I feel like all my real growth as a musician will now be through the fretless.

    And it's LINED mofos! Mwahhahahah
  4. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Fretless is pretty much all I play, and all I've ever wanted to play. I own two fretted basses right now: one is in pieces and has been for years, and one is on long term loan to my daughter and has been for years. I used to switch back and forth a little, like 25 years ago, and I did a stint in Nashville where a fretted P just fit the music better, but other than that, fretless fretless fretless.
    Sands, murphy, kobass and 2 others like this.
  5. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    If I could play fretless so effortlessly and sing like Esperanza Spalding, I would play fretless. But since I can, so I don’t even bother. :smug:
    nonohmic likes this.
  6. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    Speed bumps just get in the way. Been pretty much all fretless all the time for a few years now.
    nonohmic likes this.
  7. I love my '86 fretless MIJ Jazz, it's like buttah.
    mc900ftj likes this.
  8. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I switched to the FL sometime around 1999-2000; I continued gigging with my rickenbacker 4003 here and there and ironically switched to the FL full time as I slowly quit gigging altogether around 10 years ago.

    I originally switched to fretless because I discovered I just couldn't make a fretted bass sound good. Too much clinking and tinkling and crinkling. It eventually turned out, though, that I can't make a fretless bass sound good either. Well, snap...

    But by the time I figured that out, I was already quite a few years and quite a few basses into FL. So, even though I still sound terrible and suck, I just stayed with FL going forward because now it's just what I'm used to.

    I've owned a bunch of FL basses, but as of today my main FL's are a Jaco Pastorius Artist (not the custom shop relic'ed one) and a Tony Franklin sig P bass. The TF has the most amazing tone, I think because the pickups are hotter. The jaco I'm still working on the sound of it to get it more to my liking, but in terms of how nice a bass it is, I just can't say enough good about it.

    The jazz bass has the best neck though. I love the P bass neck on the TF, but that jazz neck is just the end of the road, stop the Winnebago, kill the engine, and setup camp for good. Especially with FL....

    andronik, Sands, kobass and 1 other person like this.
  9. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Your ear might not be trustworthy. You should try listening to a recording of yourself.
    Sands, pipaberg, J_Bass and 1 other person like this.
  10. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    The only pain point about the FL, though, is instrument selection. Almost as bad as the lefty situation. With the fretted bass, the world is your oyster as far as just a huge array of basses, and most of them are in stock where we tend to shop, etc.

    But for fretless, especially if your preference is unlined fingerboards (my preference too), it's truly slim pickins. I was lucky that the Jaco Pastorius dings all but maybe only one or two of my bells and has the neck of all necks on it. For P bass lovers, there's the Tony Franklin and a few others here and there.

    Otherwise, you're looking at custom orders for extra money and 6 month waits and so forth for most of the basses out there on the market.

    In fact, the only "mass-produced" manufacturer that I know of that currently offers fretless as a no-extra-cost-or-hassle-unless-its-fancy option that takes the same amount of time to get as a fretted bass on most of their models is Carvin/Kiesel. There may be others out there, but I don't know of them off the top of my head.

    So for you guys and gals thinking about going FL full time, go ahead and investigate this first. See if an FL version of your favorite bass is available. And if so, see how much extra it costs and how long it might take to get one...

    Anyway, just a Caveat Emptor that I learned the hard way :).

    SteveCS likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I love fretless. Not only because I learned violin and cello before bass guitar. But all the reasons you said and it just feels natural and unforced. Is my intonation perfect after decades? Hell to the no. But it's pretty good, good enough that I've never hesitated to record or perform with it. I definitely listen more closely to my junk when I play fretless and I practice with a digital tuner sometimes just to make sure. There have been times when out of "boredom" I've played entire sets with fretless even though I usually use fretted on about 90% of what I play. It's just fun, makes me smile on the inside. If I had only 1 bass I'd miss a lot, I think there are some things I just like more with fretted, but that '73 in my avatar is the first thing I'd grab running from a fire.
  12. Blueinred

    Blueinred 21st century Genz-Benz guy Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2009
    Greater Cincy
    This thread may end up costing me a lot of money. Damn.
  13. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I`m in a messed up situation as I`m hearing mostly fretted in my head, but am more at home on fretless technically and find fretless more inspiring to practise. Upright still is my number one bass, but I love fretless and fretted for different reasons. Each one of my basses ( upright, fretless P, fretted J ) does things that the other ones doesn`t. That said, I`ve allways found fretless bass a fascinating instrument and a unique voice.
    Blueinred likes this.
  14. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Sadly your observations are pretty much the truth. Looks like Warwick still offer unlined ebony fretless as a no-charge option on all German instruments. Of course, Warwick are not everyone's cup of tea, so it's hardly what you would call a 'mass market' option...

    luciens likes this.
  15. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002

    I hadn't played fretless for a very long time, yeas..Than back in the fall I played a fretless musicman and was surprised at how good my intonation was. Brought that bass home and since bought another one but really only use them for noodling around the house or taking to jams at a friends house. Im not sure I'd want to gig with them for a few reasons. One reason being I just don't want to get them beat up as our stages are small, another being Im not wholly confident that I'd be able to play that well live once the light on stage go down.
  16. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012

    I have an Overwater fretless that I love but not like I'd love THIS fender fretless!!!!! That one I would never put down.
    Blueinred, Joshua and rpguitar like this.
  17. wjl


    Jul 18, 2017
    near Frankfurt, Germany
    endorsing nothing except maybe free and open source stuff, like Linux
    What is a fret? ;)

    After a hiatus of ~ 35 years I've bought my first and only fretless when I was 60 - and play nothing else because I don't even own anything else. But it's no "J" (didn't want to sound like him), but a "P". Now the "precision" part is my job...

    Did gigs with it, and also a few albums on Wikiloops - but still learning.
    Sands and BurningSkies like this.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I very much enjoy playing fretless bass guitar. But I view it as a separate instrument that needs to be approached as it’s own thing to get the best of what it brings to the party.

    Much like the double bass, a fretless electric shares a role and has some obvious similarities in construction and playing technique with its fretted sibling. But the vibe and the aesthetic are different.

    So I see it more as an alternative to rather than a substitute for something else. It’s a tool just like every other bass range instrument. I try not to let myself get too hung up on tools. Fretted, fretless, 5-string, 7-string, octave 8-string, wash tub, upright, bass synth - it’s all good. :)
    Blueinred and TheDirtyLowDown like this.
  19. sonojono

    sonojono Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    Blueinred likes this.
  20. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    I thought about going fretless, and I play mine a lot. But I also think there are times when a fretted bass just works. Just like a fretless just works. I will always have one of each. If I HAD to pick, I’d probably chose my Roscoe fretless 5. It’s my best sounding bass. A fretted will never sound fretless. A fretless doesn’t HAVE to sound fretless.