Fretless Acoustic Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by relman, Apr 4, 2002.

  1. ok...i've seen a few and played a couple...and i've decided to search for such an instrument. The problem is, my local stores don't carry them, and one of them said that one of the brands i was looking for (epiphone) didn't produce it's a pity because it sounded/felt great...

    so can anyone help me find a moderately priced (around 500 canadian), most likely used fretless acoustic bass?
  2. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    If you were considering a semi-acoustic,
    or might consider one, the Godin A4's or A5's
    are real nice, & sell new for around $800 US I believe-not sure of exchange rate, but a used one should be well within your $$ range.

    Plus- they're made in your 'hood!:D
  3. yah...i've considered sounds great plugged in, but it does not have enough volume to jam unplugged...great bass though
  4. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    I have two Godin A series basses. A fretted 4 string and an fretless 5 (tuned witha high C string). These are incredible basses; very expressive and dynamic. My solo CD, "A Caravan Of Dreams" is recorded with about 90% the fretted 4 string.
    I use these basses for nearly everything...and exclusively for my solo bass performances.
    Not only do they sound and play great, they are incredible bargains, also.
    As for playing unplugged: I have tried, and owned, several ABGs, and none really project enough to qualify as true unplugged instruments (although the Tacoma comes close). Godin's are plently loud for personal practicing, in fact louder than most sound-hole equipped ABGs, but performance-wise, they need amplification. I have found that a small amp, such as SWR new 1x10 reissue of the Baby Blue works great.
    As someone who plays ABGs nearly exlusively, I have found that any of these unique basses cannot really function sans-amp. This is true oif Martin, Taylor, Tacoma, Washburn etc. Tho some have "decent" projection un-amped, I have found them to be fairly unacceptable for true performance standards. It's simple physics, cannot get around that (which is why the DB is so big). They are not totally "acoustic" instruments, but rather "Acoustic-based" (meaning resonant) basses, which due to their constuction impart an unique and truely responsive tone, enabling the player to use an whole new vocabulary of dynamic control and techniques. Of the ABGs on the market, the best, IMHO, are Rick Turner's Renaissance, Rob Allen, and Godin. These three share several design characteristics, but each is quite unique.
    Godin is an incredible bargain, extremely well-made, and a professional-level instrument. The quality on every Godin A series bass I have played (and that numbers quite a few) is head and shoulders above all others in that $1k (list) price range.
  5. G


    Apr 12, 2000
    Wellm I love these things. In my opinion, Tacoma makes the best ones, kind of like this:
    it is a five string, and the B isnt even that bad! However, It is pretty difficult to hear notes on the B string when played with other instruments.

    Now then, the one below has no drawbacks, imo, save the missing fifth string.
    Both sound fantastic, and I really think that you could play the 4 stringer unamplified with other instruments. These Tacomas really have some projection to them. Couldn't tell you why, but they do.
  6. Hankie


    May 19, 2001
    relman, Whatever you do not buy a fretless unlined bass from Michael Kelly guitar's. I made the mistake of buying one on eBay. It looked great , jumbo sized, vine, rose and dragonfly inlay on fingerboard, amber quilted top and back (PLY) It sounded good , but I was so pissed to find that the side position dots where placed as if it had frets or lines. I called MK and asked them about it and they said all of the fretless basses (unlined) were like that :eek: Be careful of these basses made in Korea ,they havn;t got there **** together yet. but close. I sent it back and got my money back minus the shipping and time..... I was sad because it was so fine looking.
  7. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Gotta go with the Tacoma!

    I have a Tacoma CB105 (5 string fretted), and it is incredible. I have to say that it is without a doubt the most useful and well built piece of equipment I have, and I own and icredibly well built G&L L-2500 in addition to a Nemesis amp and Hartke 3500 bass head. It is indispensible in my opinion, because of its incredible volume. Song writting has gone from a painful experience of bringing an electric bass and combo to a small acoustic jam, to a pleasureful trip with my wonderful sounding Tacoma.

    In reference to the B string which one person said was hard to hear, that is somewhat true, but it is not weak in the usual sense that a B is weak, its just a bit toooo bassy (if that is posible) with not enough higher freq. sounds. This can probably be solved with different strings, but I just use a pick, which also makes playing easier since it doesnt have a place to rest your thumb for fingerstyle playing.

    Oh and one more thing! Unless you really want to play this bass plugged in, dont get the electronics.
    I once played one with a pickup but no preamp, and it got feedback really quickly. I was very close to the amp, but feedback was a problem. Besides, with the Tacoma, Volume isnt a problem.

  8. I'm thinking about getting a Thunderchief. I'm contemplating a 5-string, or perhaps a 4 (tuned down a step). I'm thinking that the 5th string might be OK, but not quite a match to the other strings in feel or volume--if that's the case then I can do without. I'll try one out if I can find one in the VA Beach area in a few weeks when I get back from a business trip, but until then I'd like to hear what other folks know about them. I'm also thinking that it's unlikely that I'd need the lowest of those notes in an acoustic setting anyway (practice, with friends and acoustic guitars, etc). From what I'm reading about the corners that are cut on the Olympias, I'm not really interested in one of those. I do want the volume, and I understand that the size of the body on that thing is something to deal with, but it looks like it's worth it to get the volume without an amp. I need to try the felt pick idea! I'm inclined to find a used one for a good price, but how durable are these basses?
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    what's the deal with your hatred of this???? fretless basses are made 2 ways. with the dots in the normal positions and with the dots where the frets would be. in my experience, i've YET to come across one with the dots where the frets would be. seems to be a throw of the dice. fretless basses that have the dots where they'd normally be that I've played (or owned):
    -fender (at least the mexican jazz for sure)
    -michael kelly
    it's a preference thing. it's not right or wrong.

    that being said, the michael kelly bass also has dots along the upper side of the fretboard where the frets would be anyhow, so it kind of gives the advantage of a lined neck, while still retaining the beauty of the fretless neck and vine inlay.

    i have one for several months now and can't put it down. it sounds great amplified and unamplified, and i don't believe the price can be beat. it's without a doubt the most beautiful instrument i own. even if i didn't play it it looks great sitting next to my couch. :)

    i paid $300 on ebay for one that they claim has slight defects. the only defect I've found on this after really searching hard is a pinhole sized bump of extra paint on the underside of the neck. cant see it (even if you look) and my hand never touches the spot. IMO the bass is flawless. only drawback for me is that it's 32" scale and took a little getting used to.

    final note. it's strung with roundwounds, which dug into the neck after only 2 months playing time. i switched them for nylon taper wounds. i'm in love.
  10. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I played a few, which was all that I could find in person. They were both fretted and fretless. I ended up with a Tacoma CB10F and it is an amazing bass. Mine is unlined fretless and the neck is just the way I want. It has enough beef but doesn't feel like a baseball bat, and the fingerboard is perfectly dressed.

    The unplugged volume issue always comes up and I feel that it is overblown. NO bass in this size range (and the Tacoma is BIG) is going to make a low E go BOOM. It is loud enough for quiet practice. If you need to play unplugged often then get a 1/4 URB and leave it at that. Otherwise plan on having a practice amp or even a Taxi Bass Bus for reinforcement.

    I don't think that the import Olympia basses come in fretless, but if they do they would be a good choice at a lower price. Otherwise scan eBay and the like for a deal on a used one.

    Be Warned: the Thunderchief is a big instrument and if it has the hardshell case it is even harder to ship. Even if you get a deal on one it might coast 50-75 bux to get it to you.