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!  

Fretless....5 String or 4 String...Why?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Geoff St. Germaine, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I am looking at getting a fretless bass in the near future. It is probably going to be a Kinal. I am wondering what people here think so far as whether a 5 string fretless is useful, or whether they find themselves not really using the B.

    I have a feeling that most people will just be of the opinion that they are for fretted basses. But I figure I would ask in case people had other opinions.

    Any insight is appreciated.

  2. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I play my fretless Stingray 4 and 5 equally. The fiver has a good B string, and I like shifting less on some songs. My 4 is piezo, so I get different tones than the fiver. Both fit well into my arsenal.
  3. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    are you suggesting then, that you wouldn't play the fretless the same as your fretted?
    if i had a fretted 5er, which i do, i'd want a fretless 5, why would i want to change my thinking of the bass and my technique and such just because i think i wouldn't use the B.
    why wouldn't you use it? and if you can answer that, why are you playing a fretted 5? :)

  4. I'd say stick with a 4. A fretless can be used for any type of music, but, Jazz is probably most often played on a fretless, and most DB players still have 4s. I'm just a traditionalist. A 4 feels better in my hands than a 5, but, this is just me. A 5 is nice to have, but, so is a million bucks; most of us can live without either.

    Just my $.02
    Mike J.

    JAUQO III-X Inactive

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    For me one of the nicest aspects of a fretless 5 is that the low B adds a very descent low growl,similar to a bass synth,with proper lyricism.
  6. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Nope, I am not, in fact, suggesting anything.

    And as for playing a 5 as a reasons to only play 5s, I don't think that is proper reasoning (just me).

    And why wouldn't I use it? That isn't a reason. I am not sure if I would use it. That is whay I am asking for opinions of the people around here.

    The reason I am getting the bass is basically just to learn to play fretless. I am simply interested in learning my way around as much as I can.

    Thanks for the comments so far.

  7. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I play fretless about 50% of the time. I thought about getting a 4, but have never regretted getting the 5s. The same flexibility and note choices offered on a fretted 5 are just as important on the fretless, IMHO - maybe more so.

  8. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    no regrets on a fretless 5 here either. I really depend on some of the chord combinations it allows me.

    I like to have a couple of each lying around though, so I may not be the best judge...
    But I will say that I probably use the B string on the fretless more often than on fretted. Does that throw your curve off?
  9. Well, I play a fretless 6, if that means anything. And I find a use for all 6 strings, though naturally some more than others, and the high B (no, not high C) probably least of all in most settings.

    My feeling is that anybody who can make intelligent use of a low B on a fretted can make intelligent use of one on a fretless.
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I say get the five.

    When I decided that I wanted a good fretless, I started to get a four stringer(I already had an old inexpensive fretless) but thought that I would miss the flexibility of having the lower notes, and being able to play in F and G on the B string.

    I had never really spent any time on fretless, despite the fact that the four had been in my possession for over 10 years.

    At first I thought that it might be easier to learn on a four, but then I decided that if I got a nicer four, it would still probably not get played much.

    So, I found a nice enough five, and paid enough money for it that I could not justify it sitting unplayed, and started playing it 100% of the time at church.

    The first few services, I did a lot of root/five stuff, but as I gained confidence in my intonation, I opened it up more and more.

    These days, I play pretty much everything on fretless that I do on fretted, and because of the expressive nature of the fretless, I play a lot of things that I don't play on fretted.

    IMHO, it has helped me to grow melodically, and made me a better player.:)
  11. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Not really any help here, but I am planning on a fretless in the near future. Since I have gotten used to the versatility of having the low B string on my fretted basses, there is no doubt in my mind that I am going to be buying a fretless 5 string.

    Anything less would be uncivilized.;) :D
  12. SRSiegel

    SRSiegel Guest

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    get the fiver man. i went from a fretted 4 to a fretless 5. man did that expand the way i look at different lines on the bass. i recently switched my fretted bass to a 5 as well. no regrets whatsoever (cept for the fact that my speakers cant handle a B very well...)
  13. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    If you're used to a five string you'll feel constrained on a four string. Fretless or fretted is irrelevant. If you like fives and want a fretless don't get a four.
  14. I have always wondered this myself, and even started a thread similar to this one about a year ago. My thinking finally came around to this: I like the sound of the fretless notes played mostly on the D and G string, 3rd fret and above. To my ear there is more mwah/growl/ in this range. This is where it sound good to me so I tend to play more here. I tend to not use the B string much, probably for this reason and have also considered switching to a 4.

    Now, only if I can find a (cheap) Zon 4.
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Wow, I absolutely love the sound of the low notes on the "B" string on my fretless. :)
  16. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Go with the 5, if you like playing 5. My frettless 5 sounds great, and I use all 5 strings.
  17. Zoot H Rollo

    Zoot H Rollo Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    ...for the 5.

    i played 4 stringers for years.

    and yes, i started on fretless in the 70's. had a fretted P in the 80's for a couple of minutes.

    my notes on the B string sound fantastic.

    could be the gear...maybe the player?!?!


    i may get a 4 later, but just as a conversation piece.

    and to beat a topic into the ground...don't listen to those that tell you fretless is mostly for jazz. its a load of crap.

    those that can't (or haven't), dis. they usually just regurgitate what they've read.

    i'm in 2 bands and play only fretless. one is a metal/punk/experimental band, the other is blues/groove rock.

    we've recorded several times. there's tons o' punch, and i can get it to sound non-fretless when i need to.

    broken record huh?

  18. I personally have a five-string fretless. Being that a fretless is a great instrument for expression and solos I reccomend a 5 string. Sure a 5 string has those extra low notes, but another important advantage to consider, is the fact that in soloing, a five string allows you to run further up and down scales without moving as much horizontally.
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 15, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.