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Fretless Basses and Sustain

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mud Flaps, Sep 4, 2003.


  1. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    It is a well known fact throughout the bass world that neck-thru basses have more sustain than bolt-ons. Before I pose my question, it is important to tell you that I have a soft spot for neck-thru basses. But currently, I only play four fretted. I have been searching online for a 5-string fretless bass. But so far I haven't found a neck-thru 5 fretless in my price range. Okay, here's what all of this is getting to...

    Will a fretless bolt-on bass have more sustain than the same model fretted bass?
     
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Actually, this isn't a well-known fact, and many luthiers will say that a bolt-on will give you just as much sustain.

    As for your question, I'm not sure how a fretless would have any more sustain than a fretted twin of it. You still are creating a breaking point where you place you finger to fret, so in essence it would be the same. You can sustain notes longer, however, by using vibrato, which can last longer on a fretless as you can move your finger further up and down the fingerboard.
     
  3. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    Really?!?!??!?
     
  4. Why are you so concerned with the sustain?

    Usually I find that my basses have too much sustain if anything, I am usually muting out notes at the end of songs and at certain transitions to match other instruments I am playing with (guitars, trumpets, etc). The sustain is related to the overall sound of the instrument, so I accept that this is how I get the sound I like.

    :)

    Geoff
     
  5. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Yes really.
     
  6. start playing fretlesses around town, and find one you like. then buy it! don't worry about the sustain. zon and roscoe fretless basses are both bolt on designs, and they're fabulous. i own a pentabuzz neck thru which is fabulous as well.
     
  7. TRIPSTER

    TRIPSTER

    Aug 13, 2003
    Sulphur LA
    I have 2 Zon fretless fives. One Sonus and one Legacy. I also have an Alembic Orion. The Sonus is Bolt-on and the Legacy and Orion are set-in designs. They all have wonderful sustain. I don't think they have as much sustain in upper registers as a fretted bass would though. Also in fretlessdom, you get what you pay for, I think anyway.:)
     
  8. Wal basses have bolt on necks and they have been known to make a rather mean fretless!:D

    Matthew
     
  9. Absolutely!
     
  10. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    Because I like more sustain than most bassists.

    But I think because of the availability of 5 fretlesses, I will just go for a bolt-on.

    After I post this, I'll google search for those Wal basses, then if I find something I like, I'll report back.
     
  11. hippiesandwich

    hippiesandwich

    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
    I had a Pentabuzz and really loved it, but the fretless Wal tone really does it for me. "Fifi" sustains for days on end!
    [​IMG]
     
  12. TRIPSTER

    TRIPSTER

    Aug 13, 2003
    Sulphur LA
    I want one. That's a nice bass!
     
  13. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I can't find any 5 fretlesses around town. I checked all 3 of the Guitar Centers and my local shop. One of them has $2000 Modulus Quantum Fretless 5, but that's a wee bit out of my price range.

    And About how much are those Wal Basses?
     
  14. hippiesandwich

    hippiesandwich

    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
    Sadly, they are very hard to find and generally more expensive than a Modulus. :(
     
  15. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I also think sustain is an overrated issue. With most music I have the opposite problem with modern basses, controlling too much sustain. Less (shorter notes) is often more.
     
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    If you're REALLY looking for a lot of sustain, try to find a bass with a quality-brand heavy bridge, as that's a big factor in sustain IME. Maybe look around for a used Hamer CruiseBass with a 2TEK bridge.

    Then again, a normal good-quality bass will give you sustain at about the same volume level for at least 12 seconds, and it's pretty rare to hear a bassist get to hold notes that long in multiple songs.
     
  17. If you want proof of Bryan's assertion regarding the sustain of bolt-ons, listen to Jaco.
    I agree with the above posts. Unless you're a solo player, sustain can be a pain in the arse. Which is why I use flatwounds! :D
     
  18. monkfill

    monkfill

    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    I have an MTD Kingston 5 fretless, completely stock.

    Lots of sustain from the open strings, but not a whole lot from fretted/fingered notes, especially as you move up the board.

    But this is by no means a high-end bass and it is pretty light. I would imagine the wood in the neck isn't very dense/heavy, and I don't know how this ebonol stuff compares to actual ebony. I guess a heavier bridge might help, but since there is such a difference between the sustain of open strings versus fretted, I'm doubting it . . .
     
  19. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    A heavy bridge can give a better transfer of vibration to the body, where the sound can resonate more. Not a rule, but a good guideline. The design of the 2TEK bridge was great because the bridge was so big it went through the the body of the bass itself to maximize this bridge-to-body energy transfer, and it had individual string saddles (like the Ibanez monorail bridge) so each string's vibrations would be far less likely to transfer to other strings.
     
  20. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    what is your price range, exactly? I don't know if we've covered that yet. Pedulla's and Wals and so on are pretty pricey.

    F's are nice, he does a mean bolt-on fretless. I still not sure why I'm selling mine. Not usually cheap either.