Fretless Lined or unlined

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Murf, Mar 30, 2001.

  1. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Hi guys/gals,
    Having recently taken the plunge and buying a fretless I was originally intending to have the fretboard lined (seeing as I'm so used to the fretted)however after spending a bit of time getting used to the beast I find I quite like the unlined neck because it forces me to listen to the pitch/intonation of the notes and its also opened up the neck for me because as there arent any markers on the neck its forcing me out of my old patterns of also makes me play in a more melodic way as well.

    The problem is Jaco etc etc seem to use lined basses and I was wondering is there a reason? I'm also concerned that I have to do a recording session fairly soon with the fretless and knowing how unforgiving the studio is I'm concerned about playing in pitch/tune (my pitch is fairly good as it is I'd say I have perfect pitch but I dont believe in the term).

    So bassically what I'm saying is should I cut my losses and have the fretless lined or should I leave as is....Any thoughts..experiences??????

  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    The Jaco thing first: I understand that his first fretless was defretted, probaly filled with some wood filler. That would make it lined. For whatever bass he got thereafter, I expect line boards was som kind of trade mark/gimmick.

    I started fretless, unlined, just sidemarkers. Glad I did, BTW, can't abide with the un- intonation of fretted basses. Never had a problem with unlined fretless boards, just the same experiance as you have. Later, I have tried lined boards. The lines helped to make multi-fret moves easier, but it wouldn't have been a problem if I could have worn the bass as I'm used to.

    Bottom line: if you have an unlined, and play well on it, keep it that way!
    Lined boards, IMO, is for fret players who don't think they'll make it (unless defretted, of course).
  3. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    I have a lined fretted. I would go back to a unlined, although ir really doesn't matter. I use de lines to tune. When I play I still hear the notes but I can see if a string is out of tune by the distance my finger is to the line.

    Don't go back to lined, just practice lots and use open notes when ever posible to check on pitch.
  4. I have both a line and unlined fretless. I bought the Fender Jazz (unlined) about 8 years ago and the Lakland 55-94 (lined) just recently. For me it wasn't really a matter of choice as it was what was available- I bought both used.

    My main problem with both instruments is that I spend a lot of energy watching my finger placement on the fretboard. I think the main reason I do this is lack of confidence. When I do this I think more and feel the music less and, therefor, I think my playing suffers. When I play my fretted bass I rarely look at the fretboard and I rarely put a whole lot of thought into what I'm doing. I just let my subconscious take over and I roll with it.

    Lately I've been consciously working on not looking at the fretboard when I play the Lakland fretless. The nice thing about the lined fretless is when I do occasionally look to see how I'm doing, I can reference my finger position instantly. Eventually, I'm looking to not rely on visual placement at all and be able to play the fretless on feel and sound alone. I guess that would make the lined fretless a fretless bass with a security blanket. In the end, if I don't have to look at the fretboard, it wouldn't matter either way.
  5. Copycat

    Copycat Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2000
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Unlined all the way. I've played both, and oddly enough, I actually seem to nail my notes easier on an unlined board. Unlined boards look cooler. And hey, if you hit a real clunker in the studio, just do a punch. The training wheels are off. Why put 'em back on?
  6. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I used to have a lined Pedulla fretless. I liked it and really didn't have much of a problem with it.

    Recently I was in a music store and I tried an unlined fretless. At first I thought it would be tougher. After a few minutes, I noticed that it was a lot easier than my old fretless.

    I think what happened was I was using the side dots to get in the vicinity of the notes. Then I used my ears (instead of the lines of the fretboard) to get the exact pitch.

    If the only option was a lined fretless, I'd go with it. But if I had a choice, my first choice would be the unlined.

  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    My current fretless is a lined 5. I'm not too crazy about the lines, but it was either that or nothing. My personal preference is for an unlined neck, but I'm happy with what I have.

    Will C.:cool: