Fretless Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dirty Road Cola, Sep 8, 2000.

  1. Dirty Road Cola

    Dirty Road Cola Guest

    Sep 8, 2000
    Gainesville, FL
    Well, I've been looking into fretless basses for quite some time now, but I have no idea which one to buy. So, could someone suggest one? Preferably in the 300-600 price range, but I could save up and get a better one.

    Also, what are the care and feeding techniques, like, what should I do to keep the fretboard clean and wear free? Stuff like that.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. 300-600? How about a MIM Fender Jazz? You sould be able to find one new for under $400.

    As for care, just like any bass, wipe down the fingerboard after you play. If you use flatwounds (which is what they come with stock) you won't have as much of a wear problem. Of course if you want that Jaco tone you'll need roundwounds and they'll put some grooves in the fingerboard which'll have to be planed down every so often.
  3. I would up that recommendation by looking out for any of the MIJ Fender basses in fretless. Fender made a series of what are commonly called "reissue" basses in Japan. The best one is the line of '62 reissues. Very nice necks, great tone, simply wonderful basses in the very range that you are looking for. The term reissue should be explained however. In reality these basses lack some of the vintage hardware that the originals had so a more accurate term would be "in the style of" a '62. I own one of these and have played others that are just as good. The workmanship is on par with the American instruments and you'll have, though not rare, an interesting, high quality guitar.

    Another component of the Jaco tone was the hard finished fingerboard. Of course, since he used a Fender, the board was rosewood, but it was finished with a clear epoxy coating. This filled in the grain and gave it extra life. I personally thought that a fingerboard of this type wouldn't be very good, but at the Atlanta Bass Get-together I noodled around on John Turners Conklins with completely gloss finished boards. They were great! They had tons of tone and with the harder coatings that are available now, showed no signs of string wear. That sold me on the process and I'll be taking the ol'Jazz apart to do that to my fretboard too.
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I agree with Hambone. The hardcoat epoxy is great for fretless.

    If you are going for a fretless and want to keep the fingerboard in good standing, I'd suggest avoiding rosewood boards. Look for a bass with an Ebony, Pao Ferro, Phenolic, or Maple (if you can find it). They are denser woods and take a beating... that's why most fretless have them. The MIM jazz is okay, but it lacks a lot of attention to detail. Not that many 300-600 basses do, but some are just nicer. I've never played a Cort Curbow, but I hear they are good. They are active, made of luthite/ebanol, and probably sound better than the Fender.

    I experimented with fretless once. I had a Music Man Stingray 4 fretless. It sounded great and held up against pounding on the board, but I couldn't shake my slapping habit and having a Stinger that you can't slap (and make it sound like a fretted Stinger) is like having a Ferrari and not being able to drive it over 50 mph. I miss having a fretless now, but I traded it for a bass I like much better (a fretted stinger). I guess in short, get a bass that you want as a fretless bass.

    And if you want a Fender Std J fretless, Guitar Center and mars have them for $319, case not included, solid finishes only. The Cort Curbow is $430 at Mars.
  5. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    My MIM Fender J fretless has carried me through many a gig and recording session with nary a problem. I have roundwounds on her and the rosewood board is holding up nicely. Sure, ebony and the like are going to hold up better, but like rojo said, that's nearly impossible to find in that price range.

    I have some sound samples of my fretless online if you'd like to hear it...let me know.