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Fretless Question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gabriel51, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    I have not played much or kept up with what is going on in about 20 years. I still have two basses and once played a fretless Jazz bass (professionally). I'm retired now and would like to play again and I want to buy another fretless but I see all these basses have a strange fret marker like where the fret once was. what is up with that? I'm not sure I could play it right off.
    To be honest it looks goofy to me but it must be normal because it seems like they all seem to have it.
    Can someone tell me what is up with this? When and how it got started. Last time I bought a Fender it was only American made. So lots have changed.
    What say you?
  2. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Yeah lined fretless seems to be more common now. You can still find unlined versions of most of those bases though you might have to special order. I don't really like lines either but there are some great players on both sides of that debate.
  3. Basically, from a production standpoint, most basses are lined because it's much easier to slot ALL fingerboards and fill a small portion with lines AND most people think it's easier to play lined basses, which makes it a win-win solution the big mass production companies.
  4. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    Actually, me being from a much younger generation, I don't like it that I can't find many unlined "stock" fretlesses. :(

    My preferation is no fretlines.

    I guess it's like spade2you said: convinience of production.

    Or I also think it has to do with marketing.
    Maybe manufacturers expect that with fretlines more bassist are comfortable with the transistion.
  5. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Thanks, I can see where it would be easier to learn on but it would like learning all over again for me. I know now when I look, it will look like a fret and I will slide to the fret (like we all do) and, well you know. #
    Funny what happens when you are gone for awhile.
  6. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    I started playing bass 9 years ago and about 6 years ago I went exclusivly fretless. I mastered fretless pretty good, I just love it.

    But with hindsight now, I wish I could've got my hands on an unlined as my first.

    Since I started playing double bass some months ago I don't fear not having the visual aid. Plus: unlined looks cooler.

    By the way, welcome to the forum Gabriel.

    You are a "vintage" member. :cool:
  7. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Thanks, I started 42 years ago, have not learned much in the last 40 but I can still play---- some
  8. You could always look up someone like Valenti or even the Fender Tony Franklin model if you want something unlined but still Fender like. Unlined was a big reason I started ordering stuff from independent luthiers, among other things.
  9. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    That's a coincidence.

    I am in the market for a fretless precision.
    I tried the Tony Frankling and that bass was awesome. But for that price (over here) I could just have well ask for a Valenti, with every aspect to my choice.

    Valenti is on the top of my list for my next purchase.

    What do you have?
  10. Peavey custom shop, Rob Allen, Conklin, and Cliff Bordwell.
  11. scarekrow


    Jan 27, 2007
    Picking up the bass may be one of the best things you could do for your well being - even after so long. Welcome back!
    I don't know for sure, but I don't buy the idea that any manufacturer would cut a fretboard that won't be getting frets. For a while there, lined f'less boards cost more. It's not hard to find an unlined board. Warwick. G & L. Fender. Most carbon graphite replacements and Warmoth replacements are easy to come by or order. I know of a guy that has a '72 fretless P bass (unlined) and an extra Warmoth neck (lined) that goes with it for $2K. PM me if your interested.
  12. dave251

    dave251 Wendler Instruments

    Feb 5, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    As a builder, I get requests occasionally to make a "lined" board....but not very often. I think once the player determines there is more to life than a "Fender" bass, the options open up considerably, and the reverse is true...you'd need to special order a "lined" bass from the smaller makers.

    However, if the player feels like they really do need the reference of lines, here is a rather elegant solution....I don't remember where I saw it first, but it makes SO much sense....


    Large dots at the "standard" locations, and small dots at the other fret positions.

    Some Fender basses put the dots IN BETWEEN THE FRET POSITIONS, just as on a fretted bass...so be aware.....however, most makers I'm aware of put the dots RIGHT AT THE FRET POSITIONS.
  13. bigthemat


    Jan 25, 2008
    Salt Lake City
    my first fretless was a defretted j. The job was profession, and very nice. I used the line markers instead of the dots, since the dots lined up in the middle of the frets. But I tried not to look, and trust my ear. When to the store the other day, picked up an unlined, and sounded fine.

    I say if thousands of kids can learn to play violin without lines, so can we :)
  14. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Just so you know, I don't own a fender Bass, I have a custom Moonstone and a custom Schecter. I only wanted a Fender because they are less money and are not that far from a Bass costing twice as much. the last fretless J Bass I bought was about 750.00 (1982). The Moonstone was 2450.00 (1984), the Schecter was 1200.00 (1983) and I won't be doing any road or studio work anymore so the extra expense is not justified. If I live as long as I have had the Basses I will be doing good. I don't know how good the MIM Fenders are but they feel pretty good?
  15. i am a little confused here...

    from your original post, it looks like you have never seen a lined board before.

    i could be wrong, because all this was way before my time,
    but lined boards have been around longer than unlined...
    back in the day, the way to get a fretless was to defret a fretted bass (like jaco pastorius)
    it wasnt until fretless basses started to become available (factory fretless) that you had the option for an unlined fretless bass.

    havnt you ever seen jaco play?
  16. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Thank you;
    I played a carbon graphite neck on a P Bass for about 6 months in 85 but removed it because it was so cold, hard to beat the warmth of wood. It did have no dead spots, and excellent sustain however I also did not want to remove the slick finish on the back of the neck like I do all basses I gig with. I like Watco finishing oil on the bare wood, so if some of you guys are finding yourself tired at the end of your sets, try the above. A sticky/grabbing neck finish will work you hard.
  17. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Yes I have seen Jaco play, he played a freted (not Fretless) J bass when I saw him (I know he also plays fretless).
    To my knowledge Fender never produced a lined Bass during the time I was most active (80's)
    I saw my very first last week. The first fretless Jazz bass appeared in the early 70's as I remember?
  18. ok, that makes a bit more sense.

    but seriously, you have never seen a lined board until just now?
    surely youve seen somebody with a defretted bass or something.
  19. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    You know, if I did I probably thought it was fretted. I have never seen one that had white lines, if the frets were filed down it would be hard to tell from a distance. So nope, and I don't think I want one because the Fender position markers on the top were lined up at the point where you wanted depress the string if I remember right and this new way would probably cause me brain damage.
    And no matter what when I look down I have about .5 seconds to see what I need to see. There is nothing like not being able to tell where you need to be when needed unless you are one of those god like creatures that never need to look:rollno:, I once beleived people that said that.
  20. VitaminC


    Oct 4, 2008
    warwick makes an unlined fretless on the corvette, I know for sure.

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