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Fretless beginner needs advice on bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rbernat, Jul 21, 2005.


  1. rbernat

    rbernat

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tracy, CA
    I'm a forum newbie. I've been playing for 25+ years. Mostly some form of rock - classic rock, southern rock, latin rock, hard rock, also blues. I use my fingers, no slapping. I played a P-bass until about 10 years ago when I bought a StingRay 5 (w/round-wounds) which has been my main bass ever since. My rig is an SWR 350 with Goliath II & III cabs.
    I would like to learn to play fretless, so I'll need a new bass. Since it probably won't be my main bass, and I'll be a beginner all over again, I don't want to spend as much as with my StingRay5.
    I've got my eye on a Carvin B5 (bolt-on) fretless. It's about $640 + about* $60 of upgrades: flat-wounds, transparent blueburst paint, no fret lines, etc. This is about as much as I want to spend. I've read good reviews in general about this bass, but not much about fretless.

    Is this a decent fretless for the price?*** Will I get that mwah sound?
    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Ryan
     
  2. You can usually find used MIJ Fender fretless Jazz Basses for ~ $300 - $400. I have been playing a long time and am now on my second one. They are very good instruments that sound good, feel good and play great. I'm sure the Carvin would be fine but I think you'd like the Fender and you'd have ~$300 more in your pocket than if you went with the Carvin.
     
  3. Carvins are wonderful instruments and many praise their feel. some are critical about their sound being unimpressive, however.

    If I were you, I'd probably go with a used MIM Jazz...

    I have a Carvin AC-40, however, and would LOVE a fretless one...but I'd be looking at about $800 for one.
     
  4. rbernat

    rbernat

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tracy, CA
    If seen talk of MIJ. What the heck does that mean?
     
  5. lefty007

    lefty007

    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I have had many StingRays 5 (even fretless) and I currently own a Carvin AC50 fretless.

    I would say the Carvin B5 fretless is a good buy. The main difference you will find is that the neck profile of the Carvin is much more beefier (as in thickier) than the StingRay. StingRay5s necks are a breeze to play in comparison, actually one of the most comfortable and easy-to-play 5-strings out there.

    I used to own a sweet fretless StingRay5 that was a dream to play.

    I can tell you about my Carvin AC50 is that the quality is very good and the manufacturing very precise. I get super low action with mwah for days (but this is a neck-through design). But actually bolt-ons are easier to adjust to lower action.

    If you are going to jump back and forth from fretless to fretted, I highly recommend that you get a fretless with lines. Not only because it's obviosly easier, but because most unlined fretless have the side dots where the fret would be (example: 7th fret dot on top of seventh fret, instead of between the 6th and the 7th) and that can really throw you off when switching back to a fretted bass with the dots located in the regular places.

    You will probably hear many, many opinions from fretless' purists, but I think that unless you play with a quiet band with plenty of stage light or just play at home, playing an unlined fretless (with the dots in the fret positions) in a loud club with poor stage lighting can be, ummm. . . not cool . . . not that I ever experienced something like that... :rolleyes:

    Check this link to understand better what I mean:
    http://www.warmoth.com/bass/necks/necks.cfm?fuseaction=include_fretless
     
  6. lefty007

    lefty007

    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    MIJ is a Fender "Made in Japan". MIM is Fender "Made in Mexico", MIK for Korean, etc.

    I think the guys are refering to 4-string basses.

    I guess you are looking for a 5-string (and with 22 frets, even better) since the transition from the StingRay5 will be easier.

    One thing I have found about having several basses, is that is nice to have them all with the same amount of frets, so your hand "remembers" where to go.

    That would be specially helpful if you still decide to go with an unlined fretless, since your hand will already know where to go.
     
  7. You might also take a look at buying an SX bass from rondomusic.net. They have P and J designs, 4 and 5 string, Fretless and Fretted. They are very well constructed and are cheap too. They are of the same quality as MIM Fenders but at a quarter the price. That way, if you get one and decide fretless isn't for you, it's no loss. If you do want to keep it, they make great starting points for modification!
     
  8. Buy frets...


    ... :bag: ...


    ...just kidding my man. Welcome to the forums.


    ~Ryan
     
  9. xring

    xring

    Sep 16, 2003
    Ohio
    I have to disagree on the lined fretless being easier to play. Technically - it MAY be more accurate, but consider this. If you are the type of player as me - on a fretted bass, one basically "chases the dots." Whenever I picked up a lined fretless, I had a very difficult time chasing the LINES ahead of the dots in order to achieve the note I was after. I would constantly "fret" between the lines and could not readily adapt. When I tried the unlined, the dots on the side of the neck indicate the correct location of the note again, and my problem went away. Simply (and accurately) chase the dots again. Of course you must transpose your locations when in areas of the neck that there are no markers. If you have good hand position, feel, and intonation, you will adapt. Unless one wants to stare at their hand position the whole gig, it's all about finger position anyway. When you think about allowing room on the "fretted" area to allow for your finger pad possibly creating a sharp note, it really comes down to mastering the technique anyway. I certainly have not done that, but don't think it would be easier with lines. Plus, the unlined just looks soooo cool...Just my 2 cents.
    Randy
     
  10. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    For my tastes, the B5 is a better bass than a MIM Jazz or the inexpensive Yamahas, though there's certainly nothing wrong with either of the last two.

    But if the $640 is giving you pause, you could consider (1) looking for a used B5 or (2) if you're even a little bit handy, getting the B5 kit from Carvin, which is all the same parts but assembled by you.
     
  11. rbernat

    rbernat

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tracy, CA
    Thank you all for your input! I'm soaking it all in.
    Please keep 'em coming.

    Ryan
     
  12. jomahu

    jomahu

    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    i got my first fretless from RondoMusic. it's a great bass, and wicked cheap too.
    i'm actually upgrading now, but i highly recommend it.
     
  13. verbass

    verbass

    Apr 26, 2004
    dayville ct
    I've had both lined and unlined either works its a matter of taste and esthetics . technique is a new skill because there are so many nuances that the fretted instrument misses.

    As for great fretless basses see your local guitar shop see what they have . I have used every brand from Peavey foundation , to a custom built 5 string I have now . The best I ever played was a friend's maple fingerboard 65 p-bass.

    so look in the used corner there may be a peach waiting for you. :bassist:




    If the future is now .............
    What was Yesterday?
     
  14. rbernat

    rbernat

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tracy, CA
    jomahu,

    What are you considering for your upgrade?
     
  15. jomahu

    jomahu

    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    don't know yet. i'm still figuring out what i can afford and what feels/sounds good.
     
  16. ++1. I'm learning fretless, now, too. Just picked up a Warwick, (non-lined). I've been playing fretted bass for quite a few years, just like you, and I find that the dots on the fretless neck give me just the right amount of orientation and I'm getting used to the finger position for this neck, using my ear, and a tuner to make sure I'm where I should be. Also, use the open strings for a guide for your ear to hear as you play and that will keep you focused on intonation, too.

    Oh, yeah. I was looking at a photo of a lined fretless, and remember that you have to play ON the lines. That would probably throw me off more than anything, considering I've spent 30+ years seeing my fingers placing themselves BETWEEN the lines. Could get really confusing until after months of relearning my whole visual approach. Just something to ponder...

    Good luck!!!, and welcome to the wild, wild world of fretless.
     
  17. xring

    xring

    Sep 16, 2003
    Ohio
    Gottwalk, I have a Corvette fretless 5 that is truly amazing. I wonder if this might be the best solution for fretless, though definitely not the most aesthetically pleasing:
    Why doesn't someone make a lined fretless with markers that have the note located DIRECTLY BETWEEN the lines, not on the lines. Makes a whole lotta sense to me...
    Randy
     
  18. Another good choice would be a used fretless USA Hamer CruiseBass. They were only available with lines. They are amazing instruments that you can find regularly on e-Bay for ~$500 - $800. For the money, you can't beat them IMO; excellent mechanical and electronic components, top quality tone woods and meticulous build quality. They sound like a chorus of angels singing. :hyper:
     
  19. I think that Ryan is looking a little less expensive, although I don't know what you paid for yours. I tried a new Warwick in the shop for around $1100. before getting mine for around half the price, but I got a real deal! Anyway...

    I could see lining the fret board where it needs to be, but I think that the idea is to "look" like a standard fretted bass. I know that there are players that actually play ON the frets using a fretted bass. Gotta be real precise that way, though. Maybe that's to keep fretted and fretless somewhat the same in technique. Who knows. All I know is that I'm really enjoying my WARWICK Fortress 1! Gonna gig with it on Sunday. Wish me luck!
     
  20. rbernat

    rbernat

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tracy, CA
    Yes, the Corvette fretless 5 is out of my price range for my first fretless. There's one on eBay for $900 - still too much for now. Beautiful bass. I played a fretted Warwick of some sort once a few years ago. It's definitely on my gotta have list.

    I'm still leaning toward that Carvin - good quality, right price.

    Good luck on Sunday!