1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Fretless for beginner?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jakepaul1, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. jakepaul1


    Jun 30, 2004
    Hi, newbie here. I first want to say that this is an awesome forum with very cool people. I think that's what's partially attracting to the bass - cool people with no attitude.

    Anyway, I'm a guitarist of 22+ years and my "well has run dry", as it were, with the guitar. I am seriously considering studying the bass - specifically in jazz and possibly delve into some funk/slap in the future.

    Anyway, I went to Guitar Center today to check out some basses(normally, I cater to other music stores, but they were the only thing open on Sunday). I checked out several - the MusicMan Stingray is sweet feeling/sounding instrument but a little much for my starting bass budget. I eventually picked up a Fender Jazz and as I was plugging it in I noticed that it was fretless. I decided to give it a try and was floored. I guess it was a mini-religious experience?? :cool:

    My question is - would a fretless be a decent route to take when starting bass? I have quite a few years of music theory, etc. but I feel that I'm starting over in a sense because I plan to approach the bass as a new instrument and not a "4-string guitar" with lower octaves. I really did love the feel & sound of the fretless and just wanted to hear what experienced bassists had to say.

    Much Thanks,

  2. As far as I'm concerned, you are in THE ideal position to learn fretless. You don't have to grapple with bad habits to "unlearn" since you are starting fresh with the bass and you seem to have the right approach (treating it as a different instrument rather than a 4-string guitar). My advice is go for it!
  3. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    theres lines i reckon, and I'm sure even if there weren't you'd be more than able to intonate. And i think it would really boraden your horizons as far as mwah and tremolo and all the crazy stuff u can do on fretles. You will probably learn fast too with 22 years experience, However if you want to get into flap sunk you'd be better off with a fretted.. but it isn't THAT big of a deal IMHO and when you want to get into slap funk you can probably go buy a fretted. The way I see it, somewhere down the line you WILL want to get a fretless.... I guess all of this to say I'd go for it! Good luck!
  4. Go for it, immediately and with all of your heart and soul. Grab that fretless bass and let it become a part of you.

    Do not let anyone talk you out of it!!

    - You can get into a fretted later if you like. Fretted basses lend themselves to slap (the 'sound') better than fretless.

    Good luck and welcome to TB. :cool:
  5. jakepaul1


    Jun 30, 2004
    Wow! Thanks for all of the great replies and advice!

    I don't think I'm exactly burnt out on the guitar(I mainly play fingerstyle - big Leo Kottke fan!), but I am looking for something that's 'missing' and I think that the bass is the way for me to go.

    I'll let you guys know what I decide on - now I'm off to sell my Telecaster that's collecting dust in order to get my bass! :D
  6. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    i'd get a fretted if your only going to have that.
  7. 20one


    Jan 10, 2003
    Abilene, TX
    It takes a good deal of experience to play a fretless... Granted you could get one with lines drawn in, but you'd have to make sure that your intonation is perfect otherwise the lines will just confuse you and make you end up playing out of tune quite a bit.

    Fretless is good for jazz if you're more into the mellow types... for funk/slap you'd be better off with a fretted.

    As far as price goes, you might want to check out the Ibanez SR series... I recently bought an Ibanez SR500 4 string that looks, plays, and sounds much like my Cirrus 6 string. Paid $575 off the shelf for it in comparison to the 1.6k I paid for my 6 string cirrus...

    G'luck to ya
  8. Stephen Soto

    Stephen Soto

    Oct 12, 2003
    definitely, price wise i would really go with the Ibanez BTB's. those are really nice, brand new (musiciansfriend, ect...) they run about $600, but on ebay you could get one at around $250-$450.
  9. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I'm going to disagree a little here: I think you can play slap and aggressive music on a fretless. Doesn't that dude from Death play on a fretless? Claypool slaps on a fretless. Whatever you do, follow your instincts, and don't listen to what people tell you you "should" do.

    I played fretless exclusively for 2 years, and have just gotten back into it after a years absence. I never missed the frets, except when I was playing chords. I say go for it.

    I'm a little concerned with your "well running dry" comment. Does guitar not inspire you anymore? I would hate to see somebody switch instruments for the wrong reasons. You should play bass because you want to, not because guitar just isn't doing it for you anymore.
  10. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    6 and 7 year olds play violin. Teenagers learn upright in high school. Electric fretless just takes practice like all instruments.

    Fretless is good for jazz, blues, rock, funk, bluegrass. You name it. I have been steadily employed as a fretless player for the past ten years playing classic rock, blues and a little jazz.

    You can set up a fretless to not give a mwah sound. And you don't need training lines.

    If that bass speaks to you, it will make you want to pick it up all the time. Buy it. Spend the time getting good at it. It's very rewarding.
  11. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    It doesn't take experience to play on a fretless at all. When I was on Bass101, I knew three or four fellas who started on a fretless BG and they're very grateful they did over fretted.

    Frankly, I'd say go for it. People are so overly dramatic about how hard it is to play a lined fretless. Put in the time to learn to intonate properly in the first place, and you won't get any more trouble. I'd reccomend picking up the 12th issue of "Bass" that's published by "Guitar Magazine" in the UK. It's all about fretless. It's got playing tips on how to get more expression out of your bass, reviews on four budget basses, a history of fretless that dispels the myth of Jaco being the first fretless (it was Bill Wyman, people! He was doing it when Jaco was ten!) and has interviews with famous fretless players. You can get it in the US and Canada (I got that issue while in Toronto for the weekend for a Primus show). Another magazine to check out is the issue of Bass Player Magazine with Pino Palladino on the cover. It came out in the last few month and Pino is quite the fretless monster.

    The issue of "bass" as published in the UK also has lists of great fretless music. I'll toss in any playing by Jesse Cook's band. The bass playing fella for him does some great fretless playing. On another plus, Jesse is a monster flamenco player if you're not already familiar with him. Also check out Primus, for some more "out of the ordinary" fretless playing. If you end up liking them a lot, I'd reccomend checking out a back issue of Bass Guitar (published in the US) with Mike Gordon from Phish on the cover. It's got a pretty good interview with Les Claypool, as well as a rundown of his gear. He gets into his opinions on fretless playing near the end. If you can, just borrow the issue -- that mag doesn't have much else to it, IMO.
  12. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    YES!!! Go for it dude. You'll love it. I learned on a fretless too, after playing guitar for several years. The big advantage of learning on a fretless is, you won't have to unlearn anything, if and when you finally get a fretted. You can do ANYTHING on a fretless, and lots of stuff you can't do with a fretted. Definitely highly recommended.
  13. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    but chords sound so sweet on a fretless!

    Got for it. If the fretless "speaks" to you, jump. I waited far too long to get my first fretless and now I wouldn't be without one. They really are wonderful.
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Chords do sound incredibly sweet on a fretless, but it's such a wiener to intonate them if you're playing with any degree of speed.
  15. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I'd like to second the comments here. ;)

    And welcome to TB.com
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Welcome to Talkbass!:cool:

    By all means, if you want to start off on fretless, got for it! I wish that I had started on fretless 25 years ago, I can't imagine how good my intonation would be.

    Like several others have said, if you start on fretless, and decide to get a fretted bass later, there is nothing to 'unlearn'. Fretless will demand good technique(if you want to play in tune;)) and that good technique will make you a more precise fretted player.

    My technique has improved more since I started played fretless regularly than at an other time in my playing career.
  17. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    You can play anything on a fretless that you can play on a fretted.

    Go for it.