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Fretless Bass Advice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sonic, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    So I'm looking to pick up a fretless for a number of reasons (One of which being I want to be one those *edited for virgin ears* who uses a fretless in a metal band :D you may commence flaming) and I'm just wondering what everyone's experience has been with the brands we see a lot of (and can afford for that matter). Fender, Ibanez, lower end Warwicks and Spectres, etc.etc. I currently play a Warwick Corvette Standard to give you and idea of the sound I like (articulate but growly). So, what has been your experience my bass brethren? Who makes a good fretless?
  2. Jazzcat


    Jan 20, 2009
    Titusville, FL
    I had a Warwick Corvette Standard fretless that would probably fit the bill just fine.
  3. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    The list of who makes a "good" fretless is too long for this post. All the brands you've mentioned make perfectly capable fretless instruments. But they each have their signature sound, shape, feel. Which one do you prefer?
  4. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
    Choose a bass of your liking and have a pro de-fret it.
    Also some one else will pick up on the swear so you should
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Have you ever played a fretless? You don't want to get one and run down to band practice with it, just a heads up.

    You have to have good intonation, and it will be very apparent if you do not.
  6. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    I play upright bass as well as electric, so I got an unlined cheap little Stagg fretless. If you think intonation would be an issue for you get a lined fretless. Really most basses can make ok fretlesses, but you'll want to look into fingerboard woods especially with a fretless. Mine is rosewood, and it marks pretty easily. Make sure you condition your finger board especially if you end up putting round wounds on it. Warwick does make a decent fretless, and you can't go wrong with a fretless jazz bass. Hope that helped!
  7. UK_Lefty


    Jun 5, 2012
    I got a cheap fretless 10yrs ago and used it in a bluesy-rock band. If you get a rosewood fretboard use flatwounds or halves otherwise you'll have scars in the fretboard. I would strongly recommend a lined fretboard too as your first fretless, which most cheaper ones are likely to be. If you play a song in a style that doesn't suit fretless then don't slide notes and mwah it all the time and nobody will care (hopefully!!).

    I love my fretless so much I am thinking of having my Fender Jazz de-fretted, or traded in against a PJ fretless...
  8. I'd advise against this as defretting will alter the tone significantly- if you like it fretted, you may very well not like it smooth. My own experiences w/hunting for *the* fretless are that there are so many variables- bass & personal preference-wise- that I have tried a boatload and have yet to hit *the one* I have had half a dozen stock, off-the-rack models and two customs(Stambaugh)and the closest I've come was the used Stambaugh 4 I sold(like an IDIOT)because I *wasn't doing 4's* at the time...

    Ditto on potty mouth. I'm not offended but there may be younglings here. :)
  9. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Some people actually did grow up all uptight and with strict rules to follow and also with the seeming right to tell you how to talk, act and write. I'll suggest this, as it feels good to sometimes swear. All my musician friends swear by it but we all watch what we say and pay attention to where we are beecause we like to get paid. Since this forum is in essence a public place whenever you want to swear, just put the word swear in it's place. Eventually it will not have the same affect or effect and you will stop using it and eventually get to the point where at least on TB you'll never swear. :)
  10. Um, I dunno if I need to get all butthurt(pardon me- I realize the B word may be potty mouth to some), but I actually tend to toss most rules. That said, this is NOT what I'd term a public place- more a very culurally-diverse party, w/excellent security ;) and has some fairly rigid rules- which I will respect, and only remind people of in an attempt to keep more and varied members here and active. I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt and try to believe that you have something to contribute.
    BTW, if the term *uptight* etc was not aimed at me, I'll just go get BH somewhere else now- derail over. ;)
  11. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    I suppose I should make this a bit clearer:

    This will be the first fretless instrument I will have owned but not the first I have played/cared for. I've noodled with a couple in the past and just want some opinions on good makes/deals. Though it's appreciated, I'm strictly looking for people's opinions on bass makes/models, not advice about technique (I have a solid lack of that already :D).

    Very sorry about the initial use (or misuse) of language. IMO I really doubt there's much that could shock kids on the internet these days but rules are rules. My bad and I apologize to anyone I offended. See, I can be civil :p.
  12. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    MIM Fender Jazz fretlesses can be found usually on craigslist pretty cheap. Also Stagg makes an alright cheap fretless (what I own). SX basses are ok, but I haven't found that they live quite up to the hype they seem to get (I also have one). They're very cheap. If the budget allows the Jaco Pastorius signature (but not relic) is $1800-ish, and obviously is a nice bass. Warwick makes a decent fretless, but the tone you're looking for seems to fit a fretless Musicman pretty well. Hopefully that helps more in what you were looking for!
  13. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    God I wish I had the budget for a Pastorius... this thread wouldn't even need to exist. Unfortunately I'm surfing more in the $4-500 range at the moment. Thanks though! Muchly appreciated!

  14. tomshad


    Feb 15, 2007
    Id suggest getting an ibanez gary willis model. Fretless in a metal band is cool.
  15. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    I've been looking at these and I really dig them. It's finding one for the right price.

    On an unrelated note, in my fever induced haze from the night I posted this thread, I saw an Ashula briefly pop up on ebay. I almost bought it and then thought to myself "Why are you doing this? What are you going to do with that thing?" I'm still not sure if it was a moment of clarity or more fog.

  16. ilikebass7


    Sep 7, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Marco Bass Guitars
    I haven't played one but i have heard some old Warwick thumb fretless 5s. They sound incredible. The tone I like in a fretless is a snarly jazz pickup tone. The closer they are to the bridge the better. Take a look at a neck through 5 string thumb. So nice.

    I have owned a fretless mim jazz an was underwhelmed. The neck was really nice though! Maybe get one cheap and toss a pre and better pickups in?
  17. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Wow. This has to be some of the worst advice I've ever seen. You pay a premium to remove something you don't want, then you end up with side dots that are off the correct pitch and then you have to crane your neck to the point of injury over the long term to see where the correct pitch is. All the while, you've doubled the number of decisions you need to make while trying to create a fluid bassline.

    Buy a fretless with side dots at 3 5 7 9 12 15 17 and you're all set. Among my FL basses, I have a Warwick Corvette standard FL that sounds great. If you like the bass, consider that one in FL.
  18. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    I've been thinking of a corvette standard. I love my fretted and though I know it won't sound exactly the same, it will capture a lot of the same colour. I just love how sturdy they feel as well.

  19. At the same time that I had the previously-mentioned Stambaugh 4, I had a fretless Dean Edge that actually compared VERY nicely w/the Stammie, and IMO, destroyed a Thumb BO-5. I thought I had noe real use for a fretless 4 at the time(big mistake for me); I really wish I'd kept either of those two(Stam & Dean).
  20. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    +1 to this

    Avoid lined fretboards if you can. They can become a crutch for many people new to the instrument and can hamper your ear training which is crucial to being a good fretless player and getting correct intonation. Some students just end up watching their fingers and that can be a hard habit to break.

    Side dots, will get your fingers to the right ballpark, but still require your ear to fine tune most of the notes.

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