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Fretless acoustic bass guitars

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrWalker, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    OK, been looking a little around after hearing Alain Caron's beautiful acoustic fretless tone on a couple albums (Conversations and Natural highs w/Frank Gambale). Really intrigues me and something I've been looking for.

    However, finding an acoustic bass that actually SOUNDS that good is a lot harder. I've been looking a little around, and either things are insanely expensive or just impossible to get hold of.

    Alain Caron is playing a MF fretless... but what other good-sounding fretless acoustics are out there?

    Michael Kelly?
    Boulder Creek?

    Recommendations, suggestions and reviews are appreciated! :)
  2. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    I own two Michael Kelly Ace basses. One fretted one fretless. GC was blowing them out for $300 each. They play fine, but no tone to brag about. I played a Breedlove and wasn't happy with the workmanship. I'm looking for an older Guild, Aria, or C.F. Martin Bass.
  3. lowstar


    Jul 3, 2001
    epiphone el capitan.
    i have a 5er that is truly amazing.
    problem is, they┬┤re out of production now for some time; i got mine used, too.

  4. Godin has an acoustic electric fretless that can be had used for around $6-700. I'm not sure of the model number. I played one at Daddy's Junky Music in Shrewsbury Mass and was impressed with the tone and the feel. I already have a fretless or I would seriously think about snagging it. If interested, I can find the page. Otherwise, it's www.daddys.com. look for specialty basses
  5. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Thanks for the tip!
    I've played the Godin earlier, and it's a very good bass. however, I would want something more acoustic, so keep the suggestions coming! :)

    Any experience on the Boulder Creek basses?
  6. Gary Lynch

    Gary Lynch

    Nov 18, 2008
    Sonoita AZ
    The Breedloves are pretty good for a fretless ABG under $1000. Go custom if you can. All the builders still have a long way to go with these if they want to get serious about them. I play a Breedlove fretless model that has been discontinued but the replacement is pretty good and only $800.

    I wrote Taylor and they told me they are now considering building more ABG's. They had a nice one going for awhile. Taylor AB-2 Fretless Acoustic Electric Bass AB2

  7. lebrett


    Mar 14, 2008
    Quebec, Canada
  8. Fretless acoustic is more than a bit of a niche market. My #1 pick is Rob Allen in the semi-acoustic department. He's a little expensive, but he more than makes up for it in sound, comfort, and looks. You can sometimes find used Rob Allen basses in the classifieds for a decent price.
    lamarjones likes this.
  9. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Looks awesome!! :)
    I also have a heavily chambered fretless electric on its way. But I'm thinking more acoustic in this thread... more like this:
  10. Dan55


    Apr 26, 2006
  11. Those mf acoustic bass are so sweet :D
  12. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Tell us about yours, barbe!!! :)
  13. Ok, here you got the big story :

    I had mine this summer from a Montreal music composer who ended up not playing it that much. He let it a couple of month on craiglist at an appealing price and nobody but me contacted him. Despite I bought a Tacoma a few month ago I ended up buying that one and selling my Tacoma.

    This bass is only acoustic, no piezo here.

    The sound is hard to describe, it sound close to a double bass with the labella flat but less dark, you can get a nice attack with bottom and high mid by playing close to the bridge, this sound would be good to play some old Rush songs in an acoustic jam. For a more jazz oriented sound, just move your hand toward the neck for a rounder sound with some mwah. Want more mwah? put some thomastik-infeld and here you mw-are.

    The bass is not perfect though, there is a short range where there is almost no sustain (dead notes) E, F(here is the worst) and F# (the one above the 12th fret on the D string) in the high registry of the bass. It is not related to the neck but probably some frequencies that doesn't resonate well in the body. Once you are out of this area but still above the 12th fret, it just sing, just don't go to close to the 24th fret because even good things have an end.

    Yeah I know there is no fret on a fretless.

    I tried a lot of strings on it, bass came with thomastik-infeld acoustic string wich sounded good but not loud enough. I then tried all the strings I had available : d'addario flat wound, f-bass, d'addario round wound, d'addario acoustic bronze, and labella flat wound. I prefere the labella, they are heavy gauge and allow you to play loud if you need. Thomastik-infeld offer a really nice mwah, other where not really good for an acoustic fretless.

    As far as the wood I would guess that the back and side are mahogany, the top is very probably spruce, the neck is mapple with a sweet D profile and a eben fingerboard. There is also a laminated headstock with some dark wood, koa or something.

    I hope I satisfied your curiosity despite my poor English skills.

    here is a link to a thread with the pics of the bass : http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=563540
  14. Sharkman


    Apr 23, 2004
    Well, after reading this I remembered an old GAS about a Fretless acoustic.
    Always thought the acoustics had really bad lows (naturally) until I saw John Paul Jones' acoustic... Really BIG box = Better lows!

    Anyway, while checking out the available fretless acoustics (I found them starting @ 150.00€), I looked for acoustic flats....
    I found NO manufacturer making bronze flats. Should (must...) we use regular flats on the acoustic instruments?
  15. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    I have been interested in this for a few years.
    I've been looking for a totally acoustic fretless ABG. (No pickup)
    That can hold it's own with other acoustic instruments.
    Finally, Marco Cortes of "Marco Basses"
    Has just started building me one.
    We are still working on design.
    I'm confident, Marco will pull the off. ( he is the man)
    No time-table on when bass will be finished?
  16. Gary Lynch

    Gary Lynch

    Nov 18, 2008
    Sonoita AZ
    Hear their acoustic bass on this tune;

    It's a Boulder Creek Bass
  17. I have been playing a Tacoma fretless ABG for years and it is a great bass. I never really liked the factory piezo, and I'm a bit of a tweaker, but the bass has been very solid. I put a K&K big twin on the bridgeplate and (usually) send the signal from the endpin jack to a K&K beltclip preamp. The neck feel is like a J bass, and the tone is pretty upright-like with the TI Jazz Flats that I run on it. I've experimented with different strings and ran Acousticores for a while. You can dial in more or less of a "tight' sound with string choice and a some EQ. I like the sound straight from the bass as it is.

    I have also owned a Turner Ren 4 and a Rob Allen 4 and both were excellent. I felt that the Allen was all about low end and always sounded a bit thuddy, which I like, but it was really hard for me to play it in tune without a clear upper-mid voicing. The Ren is an amazing bass, and when strung with Acousticores, had the widest dynamic range of any bass I have ever played, hands down. Both are not true acoustics, but they are great basses that have strong acostic character.
  18. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Thanks everyone!
    I listened to that performance with the Boulder Creek bass on youtube, and it's got a very warm and nice tone. Could be a lot of amplification and EQ-ing, of course, but it does sound nice.

    And it's by far the cheaper alternative than most! :)

    I'd love to go hunting, though... .not a very good selection around my necks of the wood, unfortunately. :(
  19. Jazzcat


    Jan 20, 2009
    Titusville, FL
    Those Taylors look amazing. There was recently a Taylor ABG listed on the TB classifieds too. Don't remember if it was fretless.
  20. Jazzcat


    Jan 20, 2009
    Titusville, FL
    I have fretless Tacoma and Guild ABGs, in addition to a fretless Godin A4 semihollow. For unplugged sound, the Tacoma is nicest to my ear, and consistently ranks high in reviews. Tacoma used high quality tonewoods, has that big wing body and are pretty good bang for the buck. No longer in production thanks to Fender, about the only way to get one is eBay.

    The Olympias are Asian Tacoma clones that are a step down in wood quality, but have the same design and seem to be pretty well reviewed here on TB. I don't know if you can find an Olympia in fretless though.

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