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Fretless Nut Height

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Fretless Friday, Apr 20, 2001.

  1. This is just something I never considered before. It frankly never occurred to me me until I picked up a Fender MIM Fretless Jazz at the local shop this morning.

    I was playing it, and I noticed that it felt considerably different than my MIM Fretless Jazz. And I mean different far beyond the scope of differences attributed to manufacturing.

    It took me a while, but I finally noticed that what was making the bass feel so incredibly different was the nut height. The one on the bass in the store was far far higher than mine, which (the bass is at home, so I can't give a definitive measurement) is less than half the height.

    So, my question is...what is the height of your fretless bass nut?

    It should be noted that the action on my fretless is so low, a lot of people can't even play the bass without a huge amount of string slap on the fingerboard. Works just fine for me though, and I am beginning to think this is why I was so in love with the feel of the bass when I bought it.

    (And my apologies if I have posted this in the wrong forum, it just seemed to be a setup question to me. And what the heck? you would think the spellcheck on a bass forum would have the word fretless in its dictionary :D)

  2. It seems lately that every fretless I have seen in a store is set too high. I don't know if the manufacturers have rethought nut design (sounds like a Gov't. study is needed), or if it is just because the stores don't seem to worry about setting instruments up properly anymore. I tried a Warwick fretless Thumb5 the other day that had action like a crossbow. Looking at the other basses hanging on the wall, I noticed they were all set up like like they were strung with piano strings.

    The local GC is exceptionally bad at setting up their axes. There is no excuse for not knowing how to set up a bass or guitar if you work in a store selling them. Plus, they would maybe sell a few more of them that way.

    But to answer your question.... I am right with you on that razor close/ string rattlin' buzz. At the 24th (non) fret, I can just slip 9 pieces of notebook paper between the board and the B string.

    Fretless is the Way and the Light. I have seen the light!
  3. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Have you ever played a Cort Artisan fretless?

    They cut the nut really deep on those. The strings almost lie on the fretboard in the open position.

    Nice, silky, low action. Any lower and you'd get mwaahh on the open string!:p
  4. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Well, y'know, embellisher, that's an interesting thought, "mwaah on the open strings". Why don't fretless makers think about that? Seems like something that could be done...
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    That would be cool, wouldn't it Eli?

    Sort of like the concept of a zero fret, except for fretless.:p The open strings would sound like the fingered notes.
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    That's it. A wooden zero fret with a synthetic finger pressing the string.

    Steinberger fretless had sort of a zero fret, leaning the strings directly to the fingerboard after the nut. Why don't everybody? (teasing!)
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well if the nut slots are too high on any bass - not just fretless - then you are going to have intonation problems around the 1st to 5th fret. The notes will be sharp - OK you could probably compensate on fretless, but it is going to make it harder to stay in tune if you are used to a bass with lower slots.

  8. Well, I am thinking specifically fretless, and yeah, I did have some minor intonation problems with the one I was playing in the store, but I chalked them up to bad setup (and it was).

    More the issue was the feel of the bass. It felt very....difficult. Like the instrument was being persnickety. I definitely did NOT like it. Fortunately, I was there demoing an amp (I couldn't bring my bass in, and this one was a pretty close approximation as far as sound goes), not looking to buy a bass.

    I checked this weekend. The E string slot on my fretless leaves the open E less than a millimeter from the board. Similar heights on the other strings.

    The one in the store was definitely closer to two millimeters.

    Ah well, it was just something I was curious about. Nut height isn't something I've ever really played around with.


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