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Fretless Fender Jazz Bass Strings opinions??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mwalle1, May 1, 2009.

  1. mwalle1


    Apr 19, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    What am I looking for!! I just picked up a new MIM Fender Jazz fretless, nothing fancy but somthing to get the job done on the 2 or 3 songs I'll use it at a gig. It has Flatwounds and a rosewood neck. I know all about the neck getting tore up on it without using flatwounds but is it worth it to stick with flatwounds and have mud bass or say heck with it and put something with some sizzle on it. I use prosteels on my main toys. What do you fretless peeps use on yours??

  2. mwalle1


    Apr 19, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    no posts yet? I posted last night before bed and thought for sure that getting up this AM that somebody would have a fretless bass on here and chime in on what strings you use on it. Anybody out there?

  3. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    TI Jazz Flats are really nice strings - the low string tension increases the mwah factor. A good set up is important for fretless - the neck needs to be very straight/true, the neck relief has to be close to flat, low string action and nut slots may need to be filed to get the strings closer to the FB. The Fender fretless Jazz basses I have played in my local music store are unimpressive because there has been no attention to the details that make a good sounding fretless bass. If you are committed to this bass down the road coating the FB w/epoxy is a great upgrade. check the luthiers forum for a how to or to find someone to do it for you
  4. I love the Fender tapewounds on mine.
  5. mwalle1


    Apr 19, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Now that is some good info...I chose this one because I was blown away on how well it is set up, the strings are very low to the neck and plays really well, comfort wise. The string tension is really bad I guess with these stock strings, they just don't have the mwah that I am looking for. So the TI's are low tension... That may be just what I need. I was unaware that there were lower tension strings for fretless. who else has an opinion out there. Thank you!!
  6. azarias


    Mar 19, 2009
    I just tried some of those Fender 9120 tapewounds and after a few weeks just had to scrap em. They didnt have enough warmth. Its almost like you can hear the nylon stealing the life from the string. The mids were gasping for air.

    I put on some DR Hi-Beam Flatwounds. Night and Day. It seems like i can get any vintage style tone out of these things! They even come very close to doing the "modern" fretless sounds but just not quite enough treble...fine by me, less treble less cheese

    I have also heard many folks highly recommend Pyramid and Thomastiks.
    I would say, Before you go roundwounds try DR, Pyramid, and Thomastik Flats.
    If you still cant hang with the available tones, Jump ship and go Roundwounds.
  7. meta


    Mar 11, 2009
    chromes might be the best choice. they are brighter than normal flatwounds, but are still flat so they won't damage the fretboard. d'addario makes a good set fairly cheap too.
  8. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA

    It's a musical instrument. Its function is to create sounds, and the player wishes. Therefore, use the strings that give you the sound you want, and count the wear on the fingeboard as wear and tear. The argument that one should compormise sound for the sake of the instrument's fingerboard is akin to buying a new hammer, but refusing to pound nails with it because they'll scar the face of the head.

    My fretelss started life as a Jazz Bass Special (factory fretless) in 1987 with a rosewood board. I used rounds on it -mostly D'Addario XLS-570 stainless 50/60/85/105 or later D'Addari XL-165 nickle 45/65/85/105- for years before the rosewood wore enough to be of concern. I dressed the fingerboard with 0000 steel wool each time I changed strings and about once a year treated it with tung oil.

    After about seven years or so, I had the fingerboard replaced with a thick chunk of ebony. That gets dressed with a 3M hardware sponge (about as abrasive as 0000 steel wool, but doesn't leave ferrous residue that gets stuck to the PUP magnets). No other treatment.

    I use T-I Flats on the fretless for about a year, but while the sound was pretty good, it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Plus the feel was so different from the rounds I used on other basses (the main reason I quit using TI's as my flats of choice) that switching between instruments on stage was a bit of a hassle for me. I did use a set of Lakland Joe Osborn flats on my fretless for a while too. Those are the strings that have lived on my (fretted) P bass for years, but not what I wanted for the fretless.

    That all may change soon however. I'm working on a deal where I'll wind up with fretless Lakland D4-94 so if that happens, the modded Jazz Bass Special will get a set of flats on it, and it'll probably be the set of TI's I've still got sitting around.

  9. I use GHS medium light chromes on mine; they're not as stiff as Fender strings and maintain their life a long time.
  10. azarias


    Mar 19, 2009

    I agree completely. Don't sweat the fingerboard. I would not even consider putting epoxy on mine.
    If you decide you like fretless and wish to play it for the long haul, Invest in a Radius Sanding block to clean up the board when needed. There are several oils you can use on it after sanding.

    I have played fretless with rounds and flats. After years i have actually gone from rounds TO Flats - only on fretless.
    Purely personal choice.
    At this moment in time, i feel great flats sound cleaner, fuller, and smoother on a fretless.
    However, Trial and Error is of course the only way to know whats going to work for you.

    How much will you be playing above the 12th fret? For some folks thats where flats become awkward in sound and feel.
  11. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    D'Addario Chromes? Or GHS Precision Flatwound? GHS doesn't make strings called "chormes". Or do you mean GHS Brite-Flats (which despite the name, are NOT a flatwound string, but rather a moddified roundwound with outer surface of the final round wrap wire ground down, like D'Addario's Half-Round and Dean Markley's Ground Round Wound)...

  12. SparkyB


    Nov 17, 2008
    Central Arizona
    Got my MIM used and it came with D'Adarrio (I think... blue silk) flats. These work very well for the sound I get when I use it. I'd rate them a tad stiffer than TI Jazz Flats (I use those on my Epiphone Jack Casady) but a LOT more flexible than Rotosounds... a tiny bit more flexible than Sadowsky flats.

    Touch/feel: The TI, D'Adarrio and Sadowsky flats are all very smooth to the touch. The Rotosounds... rough, rough, rough!

  13. Nickel round wounds will do the trick! keep your vibrato WITH the grain of the fingerboard. Been doing it for years with NO issues. Play on!
  14. mwalle1


    Apr 19, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Nice, well spoken. I agree it doesn't matter if it gets wear and tear..use it right! I find it's so cool that there are so many different choices out there for us on fretless strings to use. I think I want to try the TI's thus far for flats per the discussion so far (the price of them stinks!) but I play mostly my Modulus Q5 on songs and I am so used to the ultra clean tone that this fretless flatwound thing is way way way different for me.

    thanks for all the info from everyone so far!!
  15. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I have LaBella tapes on my Jazz-ish fretless. They are rounds with a flat nylon tape around them and have a very roundwound tone to them. i got them from Carvin.com for $25 for a 5-string set
  16. +1

    I use chromes on my 'ray, no muddy tone there!
  17. You are right, and please let me clarify: GHS Precision Flatwound Stainless Steel, 45-105. They are fantastic!
  18. Metania


    Oct 15, 2011
    I hate food!
    I've played since 1982, and I've owned many basses and tried many brands and types of strings. I always end up using Fender 9050ML flats. I just got a wonderful fretless Fender Jazz MIM, and it blows away all the crappy oriental fretless rackets I've owned before! It came with flats, but I changed them to a smaller gauge, and that suits me (and the bass:) better. I love this Fender fretless, because of the attention paid to detail by the guys at F. Pickup adjustment, action, intonation, finish was top notch, and it sounded and played like a dream straight out of the box. It performs on level or above my other fretlesses (Stingray, Sandberg, Custom built JB) because of its dynamics and "aliveness" it sings wonderfully, and mwahs very well too. But if you don't like the passive vintage sound - for sure go get a boring, genderless and sterile sounding modern asian bass. It's a matter of personal taste I believe. I love ALL my Fenders, but this one in particular! Note the name "JAZZ" Bass - it's not a "*asian brand* MetalMonsterBass" where you'll have to wear silver riveted spandex and fluffy wigs to keep in "style" with the noise of the instrument *lol* Again - tastes differ. I find most of the modern, active pup, fretless basses incredibly perfect and boring. I like this crazy inexpensive little rogue tomboy Jazzie much better :)

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