Fretless bass options

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ezmar, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    So I have decided that I will have a fretless. I'm going to be a little choosy, but what I want is names. What are some 4 string fretless basses that I can get for $1500 or under? Ideally I want a really nice one, like a Zon or something, but that's way out of my price range now.

    So just names, I guess, and what they sort of sound like? I'm kind of just doing research right now, looking at my options.

  2. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Check out Carvin. For $1500 you'd be able to get something really nice.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    If you're willing to look at used instruments, you may get lucky and find a used Zon, Modulus, or Pedulla fretless for $1500. I would definitely not rule that out.
  4. punisher911


    Jan 20, 2005
    Clawson, MI
    Warwick Corvette Fretless is nice..
  5. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012

    That was the first fretless I played at a local GC. I didn't buy it but it convinced me to buy one and eventually build a Warmoth fretless.
  6. IronLung1986


    May 19, 2010
    Exeter, NH
    i prefer to buy new myself, but in your case used seems to be the way to go. i could be way off the mark about this, but i feel like the added value in boutique-level construction makes a bigger difference with fretlesses. so a used zon or pedulla is probably your best bet.
  7. steve f

    steve f Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Toxic, Maryland
    A few thoughts -
    Here is one in the classifieds that seems like a good deal -

    I would consider a fretless EBMM stingray, fretless Fender jazz, or precision - all great options, new or used...
  8. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Try for a used Pedulla or Zon. There's a Pedulla in the TB Classifieds right now that's just about in your range.
  9. bass5str


    Jun 27, 2010
    + 1 to the used high/mid/custom range gear. for specifics it would help to know more about your style/preference/focus?

    as per my personal interest i would say zon's have the best fretless feel/sound for my taste. honorable mention goes to a tony franklin fender, clement and thumb.

    can you give us more info?
  10. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    WI, USA
  11. Nahguavkire


    Sep 28, 2012
    Haven't played all of the aforementioned but my money's on Fender Jazz. You won't find a better players bass as far as I'm concerned. It's all I play these days and the only thing I'm considering otherwise is a Fodera Imperial/ Emperor II if funds would allow.
  12. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Right now my fretted is a Fender Jazz, which I like quite a bit. Mostly I'm looking towards a fretless because it will sort of expand my horizons, I guess, make me think in a little different way. In terms of music, I like Classic rock, progressive rock, and some other stuff on a case by case basis. None of that stuff requires a fretless, but the reason I'm kind of itching for one is because of Michael Manring's stuff, and that sort of solo bass thing. You can't get harmonics to sound right with fretted notes sometimes.

    I guess in terms of the sound I like to get, I typically use Roto Swing bass Stainless strings. I like it tight and bright, for the most part. I would Try and play something before I bought it, if I could, but sometimes you can't. But even if I couldn't, I'd probably be getting something of a high enough quality that I'd be hard pressed to be unhappy about what I had.
  13. bass5str


    Jun 27, 2010
    that helps :D

    given what you said i'm suggesting couple things to try in the used market.

    1) since you love your jazz i'd say keep it in the family but look for an ebony fingerboard (might up the difficulty level in finding one). i'd also suggest modding an active pre, detuner and possibly swapping pups at some point in the future. at first, i'd go easy and look for a comparable 4 banger to what you have.

    suggestions: tony franklin, jazz or a pj fender

    this route will save you some coin with a slightly lower entry price point and the extra cash can be used later to mod it as you see fit.

    2) a used zon sonus 2 pup model with 34 scale to help with the muscle memory in swapping instruments. mod a detuner later.

    gl on your journey. i first picked up a fretless much like you... to think about music differently. now its my primary go to :bassist:
  14. IronLung1986


    May 19, 2010
    Exeter, NH
    If you want to do the michael manring solo bass thing you'll want to make sure you get a fretless with a coated fretboard so you can use roundwound strings. That's a major factor IMO.
  15. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    My plan was to use rounds. I'll see what I can find. I don't have a lot of cash now, since I'm in college and I mostly earn over summer jobs. But I'll keep my eyes open.

    I also have a Squier Jazz that was my crappy old bass. It's not that terrible, a new bridge would fix most of the issues it had. It wasn't a great bass, just acceptable. would it be worth it to get a new neck for that one, or to spend more money for an actually nice fretless?
  16. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars

    Jan 21, 2007
    Always P/J
    Always rounds
    Always active tone circuit
    Always a finished/coated fingerboard
    Always a hard wood for the fingerboard.

    Just my preferences :)
  17. speak2planets


    Oct 25, 2012
    I got a used but flawless Modulus VJ4 fretless on eBay for $1100. It was probably one of the best purchases I ever made and now it gets played just as much as my EBMM Sterling fretted. Definately don't rule out used as long as its in the right condition. Quality instruments are definately out there for good prices
  18. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Yeah, if I can find one, I'll get it used. I got my jazz used, so I'm familiar. It's kind of frustrating, though. At least in the TB Clasifieds, nobody seems to be selling their nice 4 string fretlesses. It's all 5ers and 6ers.
  19. Roger Haworth

    Roger Haworth

    Mar 31, 2005
    I've just gone from flats to Roto solo bass pressure wounds on my Fender Jazz fretless. Essentially they are rounds with the rough edges smoothed off. They will be kind to the rosewood board and sound bright and alive, with plenty of presence compared to flats. Might be an initial compromise for the OP?
  20. IronLung1986


    May 19, 2010
    Exeter, NH
    I would say not man. I think saving up for a nice new bass is almost always a better idea than trying to upgrade a cheap or crappy one.