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Fretless vs. Fretted: Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by neoslimdog, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. Fretless is wonderful. It is great very a variety of music, but sounds particularly good jazz, acoustic folk, classical, different types of rock, country... So the first consideration when deciding whether to go fretless is the style of music you want to play. For instance, fretless is probably not the best for metal or funk. That being said, perhaps fretted basses are more versatile. For me, I just don't like any buzzing on the strings as they hit the frets.
  2. I was initially into metal and heavier rock music but my tastes have slowly become lighter, now I'm into more acoustic music, and a bit of jazz. However, I do play those heavier songs once in a while, which is why this will be a very hard decision for me.
  3. I couldn't disagree more. If you've made the decision (as a musician) to adopt a new instrument, buy a quality instrument that you can afford and enjoy the fact that you'll be able to perform with the instrument upon which you're learning. Experience will show that cheaper instruments will cost more in the long run (as you upgrade to new ones) as well as perhaps not provide the same experience and quality that will keep you coming back to the instrument to play.

    That being said, there are quality instruments to be had for much less money these days than when many of us started playing the bass. Everyone here will tell you to do your best to try out a bass before you buy it; however, that can be hard with fretless basses (which are hard to find at your neighborhood music store :). This forum has some simply fantastic fretless bass musicians who, I'm sure, will happily give you advice and information on the instruments of their choice.

    Just my two cents worth...happy thumpin'

  4. Mmm, I agree. I am definitely not looking to buy a cheap (Squier-level) bass, more into getting a quality instrument that I can grow into not grow out of.
  5. I've also studied violin for a longer period of time and switched to bass much later on. I've been playing fretless exclusively, now. It isn't any harder to achieve perfect intonation on fretless than on violin, it is just "different". I recommend you buy yourself a good instrument and a great tuner; coming from a violin, like I, you'll just have to get used to lower tones, which may take some time. But you'll be just fine :)

    Good luck!
  6. Not to be a wet blanket, but while this is true in theory, about 99.99% of my actual listening and playing experience in relation to fretless electric suggests that "perfect" intonation, or even intonation noticeably better than a well-set-up fretted, is not really happening on a regular basis, even with very good players. In other words, I don't hear people playing with more perfect intonation on any consistent basis. This IME is one of those things where we like to talk the talk but we don't always walk the walk. And I by no mean exclude myself from this, either.
  7. I find that I can be a lot more careless about my technique on a fretless. I can flatten my fingers, play with the pads of my fingertips etc. I actually find it harder to go back to fretted from fretless than the other way around.
  8. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    True - or not!
    Perfect intonation are actually two things:
    1. objective perfection, i.e. mathematically correct from an absolute kind of reference
    2. perfectly adapted intonation, i.e. exactly intonated to the chord situation

    The first barely ever happens. If it does, it usually sounds bad, because the environment is out of tune...
    The second barely ever happens on a "stepped" instrument, like keys or fretted strings. But...it happens on continous instruments, like brass and fretless strings! And (and this is really remarkable!) - I, myself, can achieve that perfection!
    Not always, but three out of five is a truly leveraging experience, that puts the fretted in a lower division.

    And the other two are always musical=good enough :D
  9. Alain Caron.......end of story. :D

    Pick up an album of his. Your outlook on fretless will change forever.

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