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Fretless Percisions?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TheListPunk, Jul 18, 2002.

  1. TheListPunk

    TheListPunk Guest

    Feb 2, 2002
    Topeka, Kansas
    I'm thinking about going fretless and I was just wondering how a fretless percision would sound.

    I know that jazzes sound great fretless, but I want to know about the percision. How do they sound? Does anyone have one of these?

  2. The sound of the bass on the first two Police albums was a fretless P with flats. "Contact," from Reggatta de Blanc, is the best example.
  3. Unfortunatley I can't speak from personal experience, but I would imagine that a Fretless Precision wouldn't give you a really classic fretless sound. You really need that bridge pickup for the mwah. I have a freatless with a pickup located about where a P bass pickup is located, and I can never get a great "mwah", although the bass still sounds good. If you're looking for something a bit different sounding, then a fretless P bass would probobly be a good choice, but it most likely won't sound like your typical fretless.
  4. listen to "she's in parties", "kick in the eye" , "terror couple kill colonel" or "spirit" by Bauhaus for a fretless P.
    David J also used a fretless P with Love and Rockets eg. "Saudade".

    also Colin Moulding used a fretless P on the XTC album The english settlement- eg. "senses working overtime".
  5. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I'm pretty sure Roger Waters used a fretless P on a few of the more notable Pink Floyd albums, like The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon. I could be wrong though, I can't say for certain. I'm sure someone will correct me if I am. :)
  6. I doubt Roger Waters played bass on any Floyd album after Obscured By Clouds. David Gilmour claims that he did most, if not all, of the bass work for Animals and The Wall.
  7. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    Stanley Sheldon- "Frampton Comes Alive".
  8. paul simonon of the clash played one.
  9. In every pic I've seen of Paul Simonon he's playing fretted basses - both the Rick 4001 and the later Fender Precisions- the maple neck one and the subsequent rosewood fingerboard one.

    all Fender factory fretless P's that were available at the time would have had unlined fingerboards.

    In his November 1999 interview in Bassist magazine there's no mention or pic of any fretless bass.
    in that article you can clearly see the frets on all the basses he's pictured with.
  10. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    Jacob bartfeild reckons u can't get that "classic sound from a P fretless" whats classic?
    Jaco sound?
    Mingus sound?

    I get a very mellow, almost upright sound form my P fretless, its got a maple fingerboard and Black nylon wound string

    what it will sound like depends on the exact components of your bass, for example, u can get p's with bridge pickups

  11. ps. re. Paul Simonon, check this out;



    looks like the remains of the maple-neck P bass from the front cover of "London Calling" (photographer Pennie Smith caught the moment just before he smashed it).
    looks fretted to me.....

    here's David J using a fretless P with love and rockets.

  12. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Freebo the bassist from Bonnie Raitts first ten years
    played a fretless p-bass with a lot of mwah! I think the way you finger a fretless has a lot more to do with mwah than pickups.
  13. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I defretted my p-bass copy.. and I like the way it sounds now better than when it was fretted...of course.. i don't really play it at all any more..
  14. But, then again, the bass on the cover of London Calling (brilliant album, BTW) hasn't got a maple neck. I read, probably in the above mentioned interview, that the actual smashed bass was a pre-CBS P, and ASFAIK Fender didn't start putting maple necks on their basses until the late sixities/early seventies (the first two generations of P:s being the exception from the rule). Paul also said that he regretted smashing that particular bass, since it was his favourite one (but, I don't know if it was smashed beyond repair, don't think he mentioned anything about that). Something to learn from, innit? And, I haven't seen, or heard, him play a fretless either. Are there any recorded tracks where I can hear him play fretless? Does dancehallclasher, or anyone else, know?

    Oh, and I now nothing about the sound of fretless P:s, but I remember Bass Player saying something about them missing "mwah" in a test of the then new, revamped, line of MIA Fender basses, back in '95-'96, or something like that.
  15. some pre-CBS later pickguard shape P basses exist with maple boards (aside from the obvious 57 P) (in Klaus Blasquiz's Fender bass book it says "maple necks were an option from 59 to late 66, early 67").

    BUT, you're right that the smashed bass in the pic is definitely post CBS- the site it's on says "1979 Fender Precision bass" (1979 being the year London Calling was released).
    therefore it could be the post-LC-smashing spare bass that Simonon refers to as "a new Precision and I didn't really like it".

    this bass appears in the London Calling inlay photos.
    he says "eventually I found another which was pre-CBS and I've still got that one"- presumably the white rosewood-board one that's in the "rock the Casbah" video.

    it's unclear as to what bass got smashed on the front cover- it could be a maple or rosewood-board one- pics from the same gig would reveal what it was.

    re. fretless Precisions and mwah, the action, gauge of strings and technique will all play a part-
    when Fender brought out the American Standard lined fretless Precision around 94' they didn't help by fitting heavy gauge flats.
    light-gauge flats would have been better, or rounds with a low action.
  16. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I played a fretless P a couple of months ago at GC that really blew my socks off. Mwah like crazy. The strings were practically laying on the fretboard. Beautiful tone, but a one trick pony.

    IMHO, a Jazz gives you more flexibility.

  17. I saw the Clash three times and never saw Paul Simonon playing fretless P-bass. He may have used one on some recordings though .....I also saw Love and Rockets once and David J was playing a fretless Jazz at that time...Whatever!!!!! I have a Fender A/E semi hollow body with a f-hole.. It's a
    fretless and it has Lace Sensor p-style pickups and a piezo bridge. It sounds wonderful. It has lot of mwahh... I also have a 1977 Fender P-bass ash/maple that looks so sweet but doesn't have the mwahhs like the A/E ...... Here's a picture of the 77....
  18. nice maple fretless P -just like the one I've seen early footgage of Sting using with the Police.

    tight neck joint too- strangely all the 70's P's I've seen have okay neck joints, but some of the J's have shockingly loose-fitting neck joints.

    more fretless P usage - Tom Hamilton used a defretted P on "falling in love" on Aerosmith's Nine lives album.
    also Bad Company's Boz Burrell used a fretless P - I think on "can't get enough of your love", although he also used an Ampeg fretless.
  19. Fretless P-Basses are FAT to the max (I will not write "phat", I will not write "phat"....). Bill Laswell's Dub Chamber 3 is an excellent example. Most played on a fretless 1964 Fender P-Bass.
  20. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I bought this bass new in 1978 and have owned it ever since:


    About a year ago, it fell off a chair and hit the hard floor face first, destroying the original pickguard. I replaced it with a new 70's-style guard and put black tapewound strings on it. Unfortunately, I don't play a 4 string anymore but I'll probably keep this bass.


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