Fretless Bass Action

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jblmusic1994, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. I've recently converted a Washburn bass into a fretless bass.
    I was wondering about how the action. Approximately, how far should the strings be from the fretboard? I do not need perfect measurements, as my converted instrument is far from perfect. I just want to be able to get some fretless playing experience before I actually buy a fretless bass (which will likely be a while from now.)

    Any other fretless 'setup' advice would be appreciated.
  2. I think this has been covered previously. Maybe do a search?

    I'm doing the same thing with a bass, I'll go for the "thin business-card clearance" at the nut on mine.

    Good luck and have fun with your new fretless!
  3. As low as you can get them while still being able to hold a decent sustain.
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Adjust to taste. But remember that by removing the frets you've lowered the point of contact for the string. So you'll have to lower the action to get back to what you felt with the frets. Also, and this is important, you'll have to lower the nut slots. Whether you do this by refilling the slots or removing the nut and filing off the bottom is a matter of what you want to or can deal with.
  5. Some like VERY high action on a fretless, for an upright feel. Depends on your playing style.
    Ray Matthews likes this.
  6. tlvernon

    tlvernon Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2011
    Columbus OH
    Try different heights and feel and listen. For a long time I was trying to get as low as possible. I tried a relatively high action and love the thump that I get. I still play with a pretty high action. There is no right or wrong here.
  7. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    Another thing to remember is, as the string action goes down, so should the pickups, especially if you liked where the string vibrated within the pickups' magnetic field. Just throwing that out there.
  8. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    As a ballpark check, I use a 2mm pick. If it fits under the string with no tension to hold it in place, my action is too high.


    Oh, and check out the "Hardware, Setup, and Repair" section. Lots of good info there.
  9. spufman

    spufman Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    Definitely personal preference, depending on how you want it to play, feel and sound. I like it super low and am happy with the way my EBMM Sterling fretless' nut was cut: it is pretty much at the board level (maybe the tiniest hair above) and the tuner side of the board itself is tapered and grooved to allow the necessary breakaway. I keep the neck flat (and in fact it still plays with a slight amount of backbow). Some people would hate this setup but for me it sings just the way I like.
  10. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    It just depend what kind of sound you want reach and how much comfort do you wanna get when you play.
    High and low actions made you bass sounds different, usually any kind of bass, not only fretless, the action it's a personal setup, so just experiment, low and high and you'll see what will fit good your playing and your tone idea.
    Cheers. Enrico