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Fretless Vs. Fretted

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Licketysplit, Jul 23, 2000.


  1. Licketysplit

    Licketysplit

    Mar 15, 2000
    I've been playing bass for over a year now, with lessons. I've been thinking about "expanding my horizons" and I've considered buying effects, getting a five-string, getting a six-string, and taking up another set of lessons. But I've really been wondering about fretless basses. I've tried them out before and I love the tone and the feel, but I was just wondering what advantages a fretless has over a fretted. Is it possible to get whole new tones and sounds? Can you do anything on a fretless that you can't do on a fretted? How hard is it to have good intonation? Is it worth buying? and if so, what would be a good first fretless under 500$? How do effects respond on fretless(distortion,harmonizers, wah)? and finally How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? [​IMG] sorry, couldn't resist, but seriously please give me some input on this!!!
     
  2. soundofphysics

    soundofphysics

    Jul 17, 2000
    well generally speaking most effects work the same, distortion in my experience doesn't sound that great, but i'm not a big fan of distortion on bass in the first place, otherwise things like wah or chrous sound great. Fretless have an endless world of smoother tones, and every note runs into the next in such a perfect delicate manner. If your into slap pop technique, you'd probably be better off expanding your horizons with a 5, 6 or 7(for the extra high end, which is great for bass chords and intervals or experimenting with harmonics), because very few of even the greats can pull of that technique (check out some of les claypool's side projects outside of primus- thast where he really shines). If you can find a used fretless for under 500 you'd be pretty lucky. The only one i've come across in that price range was 400, and it was pretty banged up, but if your any good at restoration, buying a beat up used one would be a great find. Otherwise you can try finding a warwick streamer standard fretless, the streamer standard is their most affordable bass; and all of their basses are (though rather hard to find) available in fretless. It would be most affordable at one of the larger discount places like sam ash or guitar center, but correct me if i'm wrong- i believe guitar center is the only one of those types of stores that deal warwicks. The streamer std is probably the best bass in its price range, at least in my opinion, especially fro beginers and at guitar center they can be bought for about 800, and warwick doesn't charge any additional money for fretless models. If u try guitar center may special order one for you, but at a smaller store it may cost you between 900 and 1500. If u arn't sure if you can fully handle the change over to fretless, most fretless are available with lines drawn where the frets woudl normally be, but that may cost a little bit more, if u live in new york or new jersey i'd be glad to direct you to the 400 dolalr used fretless- which by chance does have hte lines where the frets would be. - Hope i've been of some help

    JP
     
  3. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Search this forum -- "Basses" -- for "fretless". You'll find quite a few threads on this topic in the older pages. TONS of descriptions and opinions.
     
    FrankP likes this.
  4. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Licketysplit:
    &lt;snip&gt;...Can you do anything on a fretless that you can't do on a fretted? How hard is it to have good intonation? Is it worth buying? and if so, what would be a good first fretless under 500$? How do effects respond on fretless(distortion,harmonizers, wah)? and finally How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? [​IMG] sorry, couldn't resist, but seriously please give me some input on this!!!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    1) a true glissando (to name but one...)
    2) practice
    3) yes
    4) there are many inexpensive fretless basses around. The set-up is the most important thing. A cheap FL with a really good set-up (if that's possible) will play easier and feel much better than an expensive one with a lousy set-up.
    5) I never use effects
    6) it depends

    er, that's it!

    - Wil
     
  5. Gear_Junky

    Gear_Junky

    Jul 11, 2000
    I have a 1973 Gibson Ripper fretless bass that I'm willing to sell (with h/s case). It doesn't have any fretline markers, though, so it may be a little harder to play at first. It does have position dots on the side of the fretboard. It has 2 EMG humbuckers in it and sounds great.
     
  6. I have always played fretless and think it has many advantages to a fretted bass. If not advantages than just interesting differences. The sound is obviously smoother, steel on wood is "warmer" than steel on steel. I think one has more control over the tone as well the placement and "grip" of fingers affects the sound dramatically.
    For intonation, it's all about practice and nothing to be worried about. I wouldn't recommend a lined or unlined, whatever you like best.
    As for a good bass. I highly recommend a MIM Fender Jazz bass fretless. For the money, you can't beat it, plays well, sounds good and will come in well under your $500 budget. You also might consider putting a fretless neck on your existing bass, that too can be fun.
     
  7. Gear_Junky

    Gear_Junky

    Jul 11, 2000
    Yup, I have to agree with it all. If not "better" fretless offers a lot of interesting sounds that just aren't there on the fretted. Even if you use it for one song out of ten or fifty, it's still great to have a fretless bass, it's just so much fun.

    I used to worry about intonation, but it's not same as violin, ok? It's still easier for me to play with lines, but I could play without lines, too. I even rented an upright for a couple of months after getting my unlined Ripper and feeling brave. Had a blast.

    I also agree about the MIM Fender Jazz. I have both fretted and fretless. They're great. I already replaced the pickups in the fretless and it made it much better - I have Seymour Duncan Vintage for Jazz in the neck position and Quarter Pounder in bridge. Also planning to install the BadAssII bridges on them. These are great to build upon.

    I'm told that of all the finishes only the sunburst is made of a single piece of wood, all the others are glued together pieces.
     
  8. i dont have a fretless, but have been toying with the idea of one. i've only played two, the fender jazz and the yamaha bbn4f, and the yamaha blew the fender away. it was about $400 if i remember right and is available in a oiled wood finish . musicians friend might have one, but i would suggest playin one first.

    peace

    ------------------
    Keep on thumpin

     
  9. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Gear_Junky:

    I'm told that of all the finishes only the sunburst is made of a single piece of wood, all the others are glued together pieces.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I traded my MIM fretted Jazz for my fretless. The former was a sunburst and felt and sounded so amazing I wondered if there was something different from my new (black) fretless, maybe it was that one piece construction. I wish I had that body with this neck!

    I see Fender is putting out new Amer. Std. fretless basses. Those should be wonderful. Something to dream about.
     
  10. Strip any of the 'holy grail' 1960-65 jazz basses and you'll find two to three piece bodies. I used to have a 64 that was three piece, and sounded prety goos. The number of pieces in a body is not necessarily an issue.

    Andy
     
  11. Gear_Junky

    Gear_Junky

    Jul 11, 2000
    'tis true, my fretless Jazz is a midnight wine (solid color), but it sounds really great. It's just that when I have a choice, I guess I'd rather get a single piece.
     
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The Cort Artisan B4- and B5-FL are an excellent value for under $600. I've seen them at MARS. For under $1000 it would still be my first choice.
     
  13. I've only been playing for four months, but I am really into it. I have a MIM Jazz fretted that I'm in love with, and at $300 it's a great cheap date. It's white and I bought a tortoise pickguard off eBay. It looks really classic. I like the feel of the Fender Jazz necks. I like the narrow width and I like the radius. I have lots of free time and practice for a total of about three hours a day in 45 minute sessions. The feel of the neck and strings to my fingers has an intimate quality much like fondling a woman. Same thing with the sounds that result. I bought a sunburst MIM Jazz frettless ($360) because I wanted another type of chick to fondle and brothers it was money well spent. When I spend time with one and then pick up the other, it's a thrill, like getting a little bit of 'strange' if you know what I mean. They look different, they feel different and they sound different.
    I don't think one is harder to play than the other, just different, and I love them both equally.
     
  14. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Blipndub, it isnt the one piece construction (completely)... the transparent colors (sunburst and natural) have bodies made of ash, while the rest have alder (i think its alder anyway...or poplar or something). So they use better wood for the transparent colors. Thats why it sounds different.

    [This message has been edited by MegaAngus (edited July 25, 2000).]
     
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Brad Johnson:
    The Cort Artisan B4- and B5-FL are an excellent value for under $600. I've seen them at MARS. For under $1000 it would still be my first choice.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I finally saw one of these at Mars, a B4, and I was totally blown away!

    Lowest/fastest action of any fretless(or fretted for that matter!) I've ever played!

    I am curious - do these come in lined models? I've got an unlined, but I would like a lined model(my unlined has dots on the side for EVERY fret)..

    May not need to consider a PentaBuzz after all, this bass is AWESOME!


    ------------------
    check out my basses on my gear page! http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/robson/1174/music/gear.html

    the fabric of reality is woven from the threads of our dreams...
    bill longshort


     
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by MegaAngus:
    Blipndub, it isnt the one piece construction (completely)... the transparent colors (sunburst and natural) have bodies made of ash, while the rest have alder (i think its alder anyway...or poplar or something). So they use better wood for the transparent colors. Thats why it sounds different.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Actually, Megaman, for the new American Series,the sunburst is alder, the natural is available in ash or alder, and the painted is alder, for the MIMs, according to the website, even the sunbursts are poplar, unless you get the Deluxe..

    ------------------
    check out my basses on my gear page! http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/robson/1174/music/gear.html

    the fabric of reality is woven from the threads of our dreams...
    bill longshort