Fender Precision Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jason Hollar, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    Fender Precision Fretless?

    I'm primarily an upright player and I do mostly jazz casuals and such. I'm thinking about picking up a fretless 4 string for certain club dates and outdoor gigs.

    Anybody here prefer a Fender P style fretless over a J and why? I'm thinking about a Tony Franklin or a Lakland or a G&L with flats, P/J pups, and an unlined rosewood or ebony finger board.

    More questions: besides the TF, does Fender even make an American fretless P nowadays? And are any of these type of basses anywhere near 9lbs or less? Seems like most of the Fenders & G&Ls all weigh in around 9.5-10lbs...
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    There are a few vintage fretless precisions in the classifieds right now.

    The Tony Franklin is excellent. I love PJs. I think there's one in the classifieds as well.
  3. MarkoYYZ

    MarkoYYZ Commercial User

    Jan 31, 2012
    Hammersmith Music
    One of the best fretless Fender P basses is actually the fretless Jazz Bass Special... MIJ in the 80s. Most of their fretless offering is indeed on the Jazz side and AFAIK, the Tony Franklin is the only P style available from their present model line up.
  4. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Yes and they are awesome! Just picked this up last week. Fender MIJ neck from 93-94 with DiMarzio pickup. Adding a black badass bridge this weekend.
    Fender Fretless P Bass2.jpg
    nonohmic likes this.
  5. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    Yes. I have a 70s P fretless for sale in the classifieds (I don't need two lol).

    Even my Rob Allen Deep 4 fretless to a degree is based on my '78 P - mainly neck.
  6. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I roll with a ~'96 MIA fretless P, and love it.
    Never been one for the hyped, burpy mwah of a fretless J. The P just sits in the mix perfectly.
    I read that Juan Alderete uses fretless P's because they sound the closest to a double bass, for whatever that's worth.
  7. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
    That is a big reason why I prefer the P (with flats).
  8. Les Ismoor

    Les Ismoor Masochist of the First Order

    Sep 10, 2015
    SW Ohio
    I've owned two '70s fretless Ps, and a late '80s fretless Jazz. The Jazz played like a dream, but I liked the sound of the Ps better. The first Precision had a maple 'board, the second and the Jazz had rosewood; all were strung with rounds (usually D'Addarios). The maple P saw some work in a piano/bass/drums trio doing jazz standards, and was a nice fit. By the time I had the two others, I was settled into the blues and they both worked great there.
  9. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    I appreciate the comments. Back in the early 90's I owned a Fender Power Jazz Bass Special fretted - which had the P/J pups and P body and I think was MIJ. It was a really nice bass and I have seen some of the fretless models pop up here and there. I guess I've always gravitated toward Jazz basses - but I think it's time for a new Precision!
  10. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I think in the beginning of the video he's on the solo'd J but here I believe he's on the solo'd P.

    MarkoYYZ likes this.
  11. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    It's not a Fender per-say, but I play a Precision style (P/ unlined rosewood fretless, the ESP/LTD Vintage 214. It's one of the only Unlined Fretless P's currently in production today and AFAIK, it's the only Fretless unlined P/J under $1000.
    Products - Vintage Series Basses - The ESP Guitar Company
    Despite being less than $400 new, it smokes the Squire's and feels every bit as good as the Mexican Standard Fenders. The stock electronics are fine, but if you're a jazz cat with discerning ears, you might want something a bit more vintage. I put the passive EMG Geezer Buttler set in (solderless installation for the win!) and it's now an old-school tone monster. Now with the new pups and pots, sound and feel wise I'd put it against a USA Fender, but there are a few construction details where it falls a bit short as enumerated in my review.
    ESP/LTD Vintage 214 Fretless
    To be fair, none of the shortcomings I found in my 2 year old version have been reported by folks who have bought newer examples which I think are made in a different country. Lastly, It probably isn't a big deal, but aesthetically, I love the thick slab fingerboard rather than the thin veneer fingerboards on current fenders.

    As for the P-vs-J there's several reasons. I simply like the sound of the P-bass pickup. I'll sometimes run it by itself, but it's nice to have the J for flavor or to solo as well. I also like the lighter weight of the P-bass body which is smaller than a standard Jazz. Of course you can find light Jazz bodies and many companies make smaller J-style bodies as well, but I just like the P-bass. Lastly, I much prefer the slightly wider P-bass neck width. Probably as the combined result of starting out on upright and having my first bass be a P-bass I just don't like skinny necks. All but one of my basses now have p-ish width neck and my only Jazz has a p-bass neck on it.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
    seang15 likes this.
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    Gorn - thanks for the clip - I much prefer when he flips to the P pup - I'm not so sure I'm crazy about that 3 way switch, I think I'd like to be able to blend a little J in with the P.

    Eilif - thanks for the suggestion - I never really considered an ESP - looks like I've got a lot of research to do - but it looks like a nice bass.
    I've been thinking about a Fender because I've always wanted a really nice American Standard.

    So what are weights on some of these axes you guys play?
  13. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    You're welcome. I hadn't really considered ESP before either. Except for some of their custom MIJ stuff I always pegged them as a company making modern and aggressive styled instruments, but when I went looking for an unlined fretless P, it was virtually the only option. The only other was the Retrovibe super P. Retrovibe Super-P Bass Burst Fretless It got a couple pretty good reviews, but it would have been more expensive, I preferred the P/J setup and while Retrovibe is pretty new, ESP/LTD is established and known for very high QC standards. So, when an Vintage 214 fretless came up for sale locally I grabbed it.

    I'm very impressed by the overall quality. It's a sweet bass and worth checking out, but if what you want is a nice AmStan, then that may be the way to go. For a new USA Fender Precision naked fretless options, I think you're pretty much limited to the Tony Franklin.
    Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass®, Ebony Fingerboard, 3-Color Sunburst | Fender Bass Guitars
    Sweet bass to be sure. As others have pointed out your other Fender options are mostly vintage or MIJ. If you're not wanting black or sunburst, one other option would be to have someone like Nino Valenti build you one. It wouldn't have the Fender headstock, but I think the price would probably be a bit less than Fender, the quality would be even better and you could have any options you want.

    Lastly, if I had unlimited funds, I'd have Lakland make me a Fretless P, but that would cost considerably more.
  14. Holy cow, I thought you were John Petrucci at first! :D
    imdkoz likes this.
  15. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    Darn my cover is blown!!! :)
    amusicalperson and seang15 like this.
  16. I was for sure expecting a comeback about preferring to be called John Myung, I'll take dibs then! ;)
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