Fretless to mark or not to mark

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by AZAAN, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. AZAAN


    Nov 23, 2005
    I just purchased a used Jazz w/ a frettless neck. The neck does NOT have fret lines. I'm thinking about sanding the neck and putting a coat of laquer on it, but also thinking about putting fret lines on it also. Can anyone give me some insight into the best approach to this task???
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Dont put fretlines, you'll probably mess it up.

    Just learn to play without them,itll make you better.

    If you want, put little tiny lines on the side of the neck, but not the front.
  3. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    No offense Figjam, but I say lines. Well, ordinarily I would say lines, but if it currently has no lines, leave it alone. Or get a neck with lines. I've been drinking some. HAppy Thanskgivingf!
  4. pafriend


    Sep 21, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    My Carvin fretless didn't have lines. When I finally decided to take bass seriously this year, and take proper lessons, the lack of lines became a serious problem with fingerboard exercises getting up to the 12th fret and beyond. Gary Willis has some comments on this subject at Unless you have a really amazing ear from the start, you are going to be chewing up a lot of lesson time with your instructor telling you that you are way out of tune.

    Yes, a fretless with lines is not as sexy. Yes some purists will ramble on about how playing without lines forces you to have a better ear. I wanted to play bass *while* working on my ear.... I had lines put into my neck. The guy did a decent job, but it's just not the same as when the factory does it. There is also another complication. The side dots on a fretless without lines typically line up with where the frets would be, not in between frets as with a fretted or fretless bass with lines. So the added lines may end up obscuring your dots, and confuse the hell out of you, chewing yet more lesson time. If you also play a fretted bass (I don't) I would expect this to be even worse as you switch back and forth.

    Anyway, I wouldn't recommend adding the lines yourself. If you can get the maker of the bass to put in a lined fingerboard for you, that's probably best. As for me, I ordered a new Warwick with lines, and I am VERY happy with it.

    Also if you are in the Los Angeles area, Rufus Philpot ( is a fantastic teacher, fretted or fretless.


  5. Some of the cats I hang with are starting to play upright. They are using white-out to mark the different positions.

    Disclaimer: This may not work well on electric bass necks. So your results may vary.