fretless question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Da Funk Docta, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. I have a fretless 82 ibanez blazer bass. Im getting a little bit fed up with the brightness of it's tone. It's so bright and clanky, and it just dosnt sound like most other fretless basses. It has a maple fretboard, a stock p-bass type pickup, and flat wound strings. I'm not sure if those are the components attributeing to its clankyness, but if theres a way to make it less bright and maybe a little more jacoish or something without just lowering the tone knob (becuase all that does is make the note sound indistinct), it would be greatly apreciated if anyone could pass down the knowledge.
  2. realllllyyyy low action, and almost NO relief will help get that 'fretless' sound aka 'Mwahh"
  3. it has really low action, in fact some notes are a little zingy its so low (lol) but it just dosnt sound deep like other fretlesses do.
  4. New pickups perhaps? :)

    Not sure if P-pickups are the best settings for a fretless. The J's have the fretless sound that everyone knows and loves.
  5. i was considering that, but it'd be really costly to route a new pickup cavity for a brdge pickup. is that the only way? would a series/parallel switch work at all? can i even do series/parallel?
    thanks, but is there any other way?
  6. you have to remember, maple is a BRIGHT wood not a dark one like rosewood/ebony. it wont show upa s much on a fretted, but the fretless, its goign to be a MAJOR contributor as to how it sounds
  7. so pretty much, is my bass is gonna sound bright just due to the nature of the wood? i mean, if it's just the sound that my bass gets, then that's cool.... diffrent... but cool (lol). should i just live with the sound?
    thanks alot for all the replys!
  8. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    I've read a few people on here make a case that fingerboard woods have next to no affect on a bass's tone. In my experience maple fingerboards do contribute a "snappy" or brightness - the note attacks are faster and sharper so the tone is not as "rounded off" sounding as the darker woods.

    Your maple fingerboard fretless won't sound like a rosewood or ebony fretless. Don't bother spending money on effects trying to "warm it up". You're better off saving the cash and getting the bass that sounds the way you want it sound.
  9. couldn't have put it better myself.
  10. thanks alot, im loving the insight, ide have to say i agree 100% thanks alot!
  11. keep the groove goin' man! you aint got speed bumps!
  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I don't think the maple fingerboard is your problem. Ebony is harder than maple, and, to the extent that FB wood has an effect on the tone, probably brighter.

    There are a lot of things you could try:

    1. Try different flats (assuming you want to stay with flats). D'Addario Chromes, Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats, etc.

    2. Change the pickup. Not all P-shaped pickups sound alike. Try Bartolini, Duncan, Aero, Bill Lawrence, Dimarzio, etc.

    3. Get the bass set up by a good tech. Have him/her check pickup height too.

    4. Change your amplifier settings. That's what those knobs are there for!

    5. Try a different amp.

    6. Try an outboard preamp, like the Aguilar.

    There are probably other things, but I can't think of them right now. And there's probably a practical limit to how much $$ you'd want to sink into this effort.

    If nothing works, it might be time to think of another bass.
  13. Good suggestions Richard, but I think if Doc's trying to get the warm, burpy Jaco tone, he'll just be disappointed after going through your list.

    +1 vote for maple fingerboard being the wrong recipe for your tone. Plus you need that BRIDGE PICKUP to get the Jaco tone from your fretless. That's where it's at.

    Also, if you have a "cheap" bass, the pickup is not going to have a lot of "thought" put into it (meaning, it's going to sound cheap too). I don't think series/parallel is going to work on a split P pickup - it's not made for that.

    Sounds like you're strapped for cash (aren't we all!) In the $500 dollar price range, you may want to look at an Ibanez BTB series fretless. You could also perhaps get a used Carvin fretless 4 for not a lot of $$ either.

    Hope this helps
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Yeah, maybe so. Though he didn't say he wanted to cop Jaco's tone, just nudge it in that direction. Sounded to me more like he just wanted to take the edge off. But you're right about the bridge J PU being key to *that* sound.

    Still think you're wrong about the maple FB, though. Remember that Jaco didn't play on an untreated rosewood FB--he played on a rosewood FB that had been coated with boat epoxy, something like what Pedulla did or may even still do. This would likely be harder and brighter than maple, not softer and warmer.

    Excellent suggestion about the used basses. To me, that makes a lot more sense that putting a ton of time and money into the bass our poster has, unless he really loves it. I can especially attest to the value of a good used Carvin.
  15. thanks you guys, im thinkin' maybe ill just stay with it the way it is, but ill try the TI flats, i use the TI solo's on my upright and nothing even compares. currently, i have dead Rotosound flats on fretless, so im thinking maybe ill just try diffrent strings.
    thanks again!
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    my experience is you're not going to get the sound you're looking for until you buy a bass that will give it to you. i had an alvarez dana bass that was thin sounding. i changed pickups, action, strings, amp settings - then i bought a warwick and never touched the alvarez again. almost seems now as though i was insane to ever even try and get that to sound the way i wanted it to. i've since bought a music man, and now i'm completely happy with my sound. there is no way the dana is going to ever sound like either the warwick or mm.

    my experience is also that many ibanez basses just sound horrible. i'm really predjudiced to them. it's just my opinion of course, but i've yet to be swayed by any presentation i've ever seen of an ibanez. every single time i see a band live with one, the bass is lost in the mix. EVERY TIME. i almost feel as if those basses are a mean trick. people often buy them as a first bass because they can get them real cheap, and then get addicted to the feel or something and start replacing them with more expensive ones that never (again IMO) seem to live up to the tone any other brand of bass.

    to be honest, before investing money in picups and stuff, if cash is a real issue, i'd go to rondo and pick up an sx fretless jazz. it would probably cost less than a pickup replacement - and when i had one i was able to get some jaco like growliness our of it. it cut through really well in a band situation also.
  17. What kind of strings have you got. If they are steel this could be the cause of the clancky sound. I use nickle and get a really warm rounded sound.
  18. currrently, i have on roto sound jazz 66's, but am thinking of TI, i really like this bass because of the the way the board feels and the way it plays really, i just wish it sounded a little better. are there any p bass pickups that get a rather full (not muddy), but are deep? the main problem with it is that it dosnt get a deep tone, it gets a treblely tone.on my five string jazz you can get a really solid "low" sound by soloing either pickup, but on this bass you get more of a high pitched sound like when i have both of my jazz basses pickups on. thanks again for all the suggestions
  19. try some barts. they actually have a 'dark' version. and get some tapewound strings. i had some on my essex homedefret job, and it sounded kick arse