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Fretless Neck questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Levin, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Was thinking of switching my neck of my Fender Am. Standard from the mid 90s somewhen to a fretless and thought of buying a real nice one custom-made at Warmoth and let a friend of mine who is a great luthier assemble it onto the bass.

    I pondered about either getting a wenge for the shaftwood and Pau Ferro for the fingerboard, as I want a really warm sound, without losing to much articulation.

    But your experience is greater so I figured I'd hear a lof of people here out first!

    What have you done? What would you recommend?

    I have a warwick fortress flashback with a wenge fingerboard that I love the sound of, and love playing it, and I love ebony fingerboards too. However the Pao Ferro seems to be... somehow what I seek.

    But hear me out and suggest what I should get, please!

    As I only will be buying the (lined) fretless neck I'm not very picky if it's pricey, it's probably not gonna be a lot of money anyway.

    And yes I know the body is the larger part of the sound, and the pickups, and construction, and the luthiers skill and so on... just to everyone who maybe would like to point that out first.

    Sorry for my bad english, am looking forward to your thoughts. :D
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I have a Warmoth neck with Wenge for the shaft and ebony for the fingerboard. Before that neck I had a Might Mite maple with ebanol fingerboard. The Warmoth is definitely superior with warmer sounding lows and clearer attack. Warmoth quality is top notch and you will not be disappointed. Wenge does not need a finish and the feel of the wood is fantastic. FWIW I got the steel stiffening rods.
  3. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Yeah, great to hear! I have only heard good things about them so far :) And yes, wenge is a killer to play on :D
    I too shall get the steel stiffening rods that are their standard as they seem to be the best choice.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Someone here on the forum said that Bloodwood makes great for fretless too, if you are into the more rosewood-kinda sound. Thoughts?

    I read that pao ferro fingerboards match well sonically together with a maple shaft.
    Experiences with that?

    And for fretted, a wenge shaft with maple fretboard! Even though I'm on of those heretics who likes maple for fretless too despite the wear... *hides*

    But I think I'll go darker and warmer for this one! :D
  4. ericdanger13


    Oct 30, 2012
    Danbury Ct
    I've always liked the feel of wenge. I never had it on a fretless though.
  5. I have a Warmoth lined/fretless Wenge.... GREAT neck!
  6. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    I have a fretless with Wenge/Wenge. Noting else I've played comes close.
  7. Low Class

    Low Class Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Orange Park, Florida
    Also consider Padauk shaft with Ziricote fingerboard. Closest combo I've come across that resembles the tonal qualities of a preCBS Jazz.
  8. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Haha, I have thought about a Wenge/wenge fretless actually! But didn't know how that would be.
    Padouk/Ziricote? :) Seems to blend fine!
    Do you have any soundclips with the wenge/wenge? :D Would love to hear. Maybe that's what I want the most...
    Have to think it though for a couple of months first anyway, haha.
  9. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Wenge/wenge fretless is getting more and more exciting the more I read about it... :D
  10. Wenge is the bomb, my conklin and most of the warwicks I've had have necks mostly made of wenge, I like the smooth consistent feel. Maple necks often have a finish and they can go to sticky feeling when dry to slippery as the set goes on and they get a little sweat on them. I can play a wenge neck all night long and its just consistent. tone wise I think its a little bit different than maple but again the difference is a good one IMO
  11. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    ...actually I'm more into changing the neck on my fretless I have right now, a tokai jazz sound with Nordstand jazz pickups on it and a rosewood oiled fretless with dots, no lines.

    As I don't really like unlined :D too much unnecessary practice in my opinion for something easily achivied when you have lines.
  12. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Anyone got wenge/wenge necks without frets?
  13. Kevin Woods

    Kevin Woods Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Chicago, USA
    Here's my Wenge/Warmoth story:

    About ten years ago I had a Wenge-neck/Ebony-board Deluxe 5 fretless from Warmoth with rather disappointing results. The body was Black Korina, and a real Fender fanatic repairman/kit builder put it together for me. It was warm alright and people(and musicians) seemed to really dig it. But I had to stab that bass like Jack the Ripper to get the attack. I kept hearing disbelief when I was in the process of getting rid of it. But people never know what you go through to get the sound out of an instrument. The Korina ended up being rather light, so that might have been the culprit.

    One thing with Warmoth is that the necks are definitely heavier than a Fender neck, so even with a Maple neck your bass will be heavier in that direction(at least two people on the phone confessed that in the midst of my Warmoth debacle). I remember asking Brian in R+D "do you think this might end up top heavy?" and he was like, "I wouldn't worry about it". The bass was THE most ridiculous neck-diver I have ever played, ha ha and I have had over 15 fretless basses in the last ten years. Live and learn.

    I would say that it depends on where you are with your fretless journey. It's been proven that you can build a pretty good sounding bass with a two-by-four, but I really doubt that it would work as well with a fretless build. My recommendation is if you don't feel experienced getting a convincing and growly fretless sound yet, then use a Maple neck and put on an Ebony or Pau Ferro board(60's J-bridge placement for fuller sound). It's probably the perfect place to start for figuring out what you want in a fretless. Tons of contrary builds might sound killer, so my two cents only.

    I know that over at Veillette Guitars it is felt that a Pau Ferro board filters out some of the quack that you can sometimes get with Ebony. They love Poplar body/Maple neck w/ Pau Ferro board. That's what my Veillette Paris is and it's hell on wheels.

  14. Buchada Azeda

    Buchada Azeda

    Mar 25, 2009
    I suspect you're using flats with that, aren't ya?

    Got any soundclips?
  15. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    I'm waiting on a goncalo alves shaft/bocote fingerboard fretless Jazz neck. My tonal goal is WARMTH, so I avoided all the brighter-sounding wood choices. It's going on a Squier VM Jazz body with SD Antiquity II pickups. I went with the graphite stiffening rods, lines, abalone face and side dots, and a black TUSQ nut. I intend to string it with TI Jazz flats.
  16. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Thanks a lot for your story, Kevin Woods! Great to hear. Lack of definition isn't something anyone wants... I'll rethink it!

    I'm probably going to have my TIs on the fretless too.

    Yeah, Pao Ferro seems great!
  17. Shedua511


    Apr 6, 2013
    Oslo, Norway
    Agent for Scandinavian countries: Stick Enterprises Inc.
    Wenge is a good choice also because you will not need Warmoth to finish it, you can just apply some oil when you receive it.
    I suspect a wenge fingerboard, with the large pores, would be prone to get ruined quickly if you use roundwounds, but I have no direct experience to corroborate that.
    If you have it made from scratch, consider a slim taper neck profile: I have both versions and the slim taper is really nice.
  18. Rich McCoy

    Rich McCoy

    Apr 8, 2013
    Seems a wenge fingerboard would be buzzy because of It's porous grain.
  19. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    Yeah... wenge neck is nice that way! And yes, I would go with the slim taper neck :)
    I wonder if it would be too undistinctive with a pao ferro fingerboard as they indeed seem very good for fretless!