Fretless string choices?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by zionww, Feb 24, 2024.

  1. zionww


    Feb 24, 2024
    I recently got an extremely nice fretless Warwick, I’m coming up on 4 years of playing and Ive played exclusively roundwounds the entire time, this bass however I got used and it has flats, I would love to put rounds on it so I can get the sound/feel I’m looking for (mainly a metal/rock player) but I’m really scared of ripping up the fretboard more than it already is after 16 years of playing from the last owner, what’s my best move here? D7DEAB91-EC40-4093-8457-DE6443F1CEFB.jpeg
  2. thunesBARROW


    Apr 12, 2010
    New York
    Rounds are fine to use on fretless. They might leave superficial cosmetic marks faster than flats, but they won’t ruin your fingerboard.
  3. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You can either cower in a corner out of fear, or you can put rounds on it and get a great sound. I've played rounds on fretless for 4 decades now, the "fingerboard wear" thing is a non issue for me.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    welcome to talkbass, congratulations on your new fretless! :thumbsup:

    the last guy took 16 years to "rip up" the fingerboard?! you may want to let that sink in! :laugh: :roflmao:

    just like metal frets, fingerboards will need some attention from time to time: every 10-12 years for most. for some real aggressive players, maybe every 7-8 years. those with a more thoughtful touch, maybe 15-20 years. if you're leaving marks on your frets you can probably leave marks on your fingerboard, and if you're wearing out your frets, you can probably wear out your fingerboard. big whup!

    folks who don't actually know what fretless is all about, and folks who don't really play fretless might tell you otherwise, but rounds and fretless are made for each other! ;)

    among real fretless players: string choice is made for the playing experience, and the music experience...not out of fear of fingerboard wear. ;)

    :chicken: vs. :bassist: --- you choose! good luck! :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    cpeterso, MrAB4003, Tommy V and 12 others like this.
  5. TreySonagras


    Aug 11, 2013
    I logged on this morning to ask a similar question. I am putting together a parts jazz bass and I am using a Player series fretless jazz neck with a Pau Ferro fingerboard. What are peoples’ choices for round wound strings on this type of neck? I use DR LoRiders on all my other basses.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    59jazz, Wisebass and JRA like this.
  6. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    The rate and degree of wear that roundwounds cause on a fretless has been GREATLY exaggerated.

    If you are not slapping,tapping and doing guitarlike sideways string bends and pushing the heel of your palm down the strings on the fingerboard(Jaco did this occasionally) you will NOT have a great amount of wear.

    If you were to sit down and play a fretless with rounds with big sheet of white paper under the neck in your lap,you will NOT see sawdust!

    I play fretless with rounds.
    I don't slap or tap on mine.
    So there are no gouges,grooves or damage.
    Just faint winding marks after a long,long while.
    Which are easily sanded out with a radius sanding block.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    logdrum, Max7, tindrum and 6 others like this.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i only use rounds, all kinds, but my favorites (lately) are TI jazz rounds, dogal-hellborg, and i've always appreciated roto 66s in lighter gauges.

    @TreySonagras, try your lo-riders on your parts bass. ;) the best string for any ax is always dealer's choice!
  8. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    on a board like that...sure "Sunbeams all day"...on a defretted Maple board...not so sure
    Lee Moses likes this.
  9. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Are you saying the fingerboard is already worn? To what extent? Warwick have ebony boards which is pretty good at resisting wear, but it can and does happen. I did wear grooves in a rosewood board with rounds and pressure-wound strings, but it took the best part of 15 years of daily play to become a problem. The extent of any problems will also depend on the type setup you prefer. If you want it low with very consistent tone across the board you will need to keep on top of things. If you are less particular a higher setup can hide a multitude of minor dips and bumps. If in doubt, get it dressed now then try EB Cobalt Flats - they really do deliver on the promise of a flat that sounds like a round. As for ongoing maintenance, it is not beyond most people to learn to do it for yourself. YMMV.

    Just to echo other posters, occasional maintenance is not that big a deal, just part of the cost of doing business. Getting the sounds you want trumps that every time, IMHO.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
  10. Perhaps try D’Addario black tapes. They are technically flat wound but have a surprisingly decent round wound zing to them, enough to have a good slap tone on a fretted bass. Absolutely no finger noise when doing a glissando and they last a long time. The tape material will definitely go easy on the fingerboard. Pyramid, LaBella and GHS also offer tapes (among other I am sure).
    ADHD librarian and srayb like this.
  11. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    TI Jazz Rounds are great.

    As others have said, don’t worry about fretboard wear.
    “IF” you play long enough and hard to wear marks in the board, think of it as an accomplishment to be proud of.
    BTW, its something a good tech can clean up in a few minutes.
    JRA likes this.
  12. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi zionww :)

    Welcome to TB!

    The usual suspects (fretless guys) have already told you,...

    ...that sound and feel is everything!

    Even elevator jazz dudes play rounds without being scared!!!! :D

    String your bass with the strings you like and rock it! metalhead.gif

    greetings (a fellow fretless metal player)

    Riff Ranger, FeltTipPen and JRA like this.
  13. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi Trey :)

    Pau ferro = iron wood => absolutely hard enough to get played with rounds!

    See above: Feel and sound are everything!

    Play stings that feel right for you, especially when you plan to switch between basses!


    Manticore, JRA and thunesBARROW like this.
  14. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Do whatever sounds and feels good to you, board wear should be a secondary concern at best.

    But if it does concern you, consider pressurewounds - most of the zing of rounds, far less board wear, and fewer 'finger squeaks" when sliding, too. I love 'em, especially on my fretless ABGs. (GHS Pressurewound Bronze, may as well call them my "ABG signature set" at this point, lol!)
  15. Chris Chong

    Chris Chong

    Feb 24, 2023
    Just go with rounds :thumbsup:

    I tried rounds and went back to flats.
    thunesBARROW likes this.
  16. TreySonagras


    Aug 11, 2013
    Thanks. I’m not worried about wear at all. I’m just wondering what rounds people use and if there is a difference with fretless. I know about fretted and what each string does for me.
  17. GHS tapewounds are the only flat under the take I’m aware of. And my personal favorite tapewound. The rest are rounds under the tape. This has been proven years ago on this forum.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    No best string.
    I like LaBella DTF on fretlesses because I want that tension and “fight”. But agree with others, rounds are fine. It takes years of use to wear the board and then you can have it sanded back.
    Max7 likes this.
  19. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    Even if you play in a way that damages the fingerboard, it will be years before the bass requires maintenance - and that same maintenance would probably be required eventually regardless of what strings you used. Don't worry about, play what sounds good.
    Manticore likes this.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Fingerboard wear on a fretless isn’t a real issue as long as you’re not pounding on the neck with slap. I use rounds on two fretless basses. And their fingerboards don’t show any more signs of wear than the third one I have which is strung with flats. Any marks you see on the fingerboard will be cosmetic or superficial at worst and easily buffed out if it bothers you.

    Somebody on TB once said to take it as a good sign if you’re seeing minor wear on your fretless neck. It shows you’ve been playing it regularly. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    tindrum and FeltTipPen like this.