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Fretless with Maple board--good? bad?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dgce, Nov 17, 2003.


  1. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    You know, you just don't see many fretless basses with maple boards. Barring the occational personalized Franken-bass, the only ones I've seen were CBS era Precisions and late 70s Ibanez Musicians (both played by Sting when he was a young policeman).

    Online a couple of times I've seen some weird but very cool looking flamed fretless maple board basses. I'd love to order something like that from Warmoth even if its mostly about esthetics.

    My question is whether or not its a bad idea. Sure, I know maple will likely sound brighter than rosewood but isn't ebony pretty snappy sounding as well? Is fretless maple fingerboards a bad thing?

    Thanks

    r
     
  2. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I know there are people here that prefer Maple over Ebony. I am one of them, and i think Treena Foster likes maples too? I liek the sound they give, although Ebony seems to be more popular. It definitely isnt a BAD idea, its just different.
     
  3. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Probably would have been better for you to have posted this in the Luthier's Corner..

    I'm sure the resident builders can give you all the pros and cons of it.
     
  4. KeithPas

    KeithPas

    May 16, 2000
    Poulsbo,Wa
    Whether or not a fretless maple fingerboard is a good or bad thing depends entirely on the tone you are looking for. I owned a bass with a fretless maple board and I found that it did not give me the warm blossoming fretless tone I had been gassing for. Listen to "Frampton Comes Alive" his bassplayer played a fretless Precision with a maple board and it sounds good but it does'nt have a whole lot of mwah in it. A maple board also has to be finished with either a hard polyurethane or epoxy finish to protect the wood, whereas a rosewood of ebony board would not need to be finished. They do look cool though;)
     
  5. Wolfehollow

    Wolfehollow

    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    I love mine.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    IMO thats the most aweosme loooking bass ive ever seen! whats the symbol mean?
     
  7. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    I've got two words for that bass pic posted by Wolfehollow... HUBA HUBA! What the heck is that? It's gorgeous! And...er...looks very expensive too.

    Well KeithPas made some interesting comments and I'm wondering whether it applies to this kick-butt looking bass as well. From the picture, I can't detect there's a thick epoxy or Pedulla fretless-like finish on it. What do you do to protect that maple board?

    Also, KeithPas mentioned his fretless maple board bass lacked that tasty "mwah" of other boards. I mean, if you don't have the mwah, then why have a fretless, right? How's the tone on your fretless, Wolfehollow?

    r
     
  8. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Ahh, how I remember drooling at those Pensa-Suhrs in the window at Rudy's on 48th Street in New York years ago. I checked Christian McBride's gear link and his jazz-style fretless was more of what I was thinking of when I started this thread. So the mwah is more about technique, eh? Well, granted; Jaco would still sound like Jaco if he were playing on a fretless maple, no? However, would you also say that a rosewood or ebony board is still more condusive to getting that sound? I mean the Pensa and this other custom job bass on this thread are some pretty high-end items. I mean its like they have no choice BUT to sound good. But what of those old production axes like those 70s Precisions and the old Ibanez' I mentioned before?

    r
     
  9. I am also very curious about that bass. It really looks great. I like how one pickup matches the pickgaurd and one matches the body. There's certaintly no shortage of birdseye maple on that thing.
     
  10. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    DGCE.......I have been using a maple fretless neck for over ten years as my main bass. I don't have it set up for mwah either. Here is what I have and why.

    Maple fretless P neck off my 75 Precision, mated to a MIJ jazz body. Custom shop 60's pups. Vol/Balance/Tone. Round wound strings. Plugged into a Sadowsky Outboard preamp. It's set up for me just the way I want my bass to be, and I just love it.

    and

    Rosewood fretless MIJ jazz neck mated to the 75 Precision body. Roundwound strings

    The main objective was my love of the maple precision neck with the jazz bridge pickup. The action is higher on this bass and it doesn't give me as much mwah as the other bass. I play mostly rock and covers. The other bass is used (rarely) for jazz stuff. I'm not in love with the narrow jazz neck anymore.

    I prefer playing a fretless neck for any kind of music. I currently freelance playing mostly rock. I really prefer the maple neck as I find it more versatile enabling me to play more styles of music that a mwah sounding bass would enable.

    I'm sure you could set it up for more mwah, but I'm not after that sound.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide.

    bmc
     
  11. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hey, thanks BMC!

    r
     
  12. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    My Japanese/Chinese dictionary says it means "true", "reality", or the name of a Buddhist sect. Possible readings are "shin", "ma" and "makoto".
     
  13. Wolfehollow

    Wolfehollow

    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
  14. Wolfehollow

    Wolfehollow

    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    To answer your question... I love the maple tone for fretless!!! I own a snakewood fretless, a phenowood fretless, an ebony fretless and the maple. The maple is my fav, followed by the phenowood.
     
  15. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    So why do you think so few manufactures use maple boards on their fretless basses? I would think its no more costly to produce than rosewood or the more price ebony. Then again someone did point out the maple boards required more finish to protect it from use than other boards. What do you think?

    r
     
  16. Wolfehollow

    Wolfehollow

    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    The care needed to not muck up the board with dirt and string scratches would be my bet as to why companies dont use it more...
     
  17. KeithPas

    KeithPas

    May 16, 2000
    Poulsbo,Wa
    I just wanted to clarify that my earlier post applied to the basses that I have played and heard. Your original question was whether or not a fretless maple board was a bad thing, my answer would remain the same. Bear in mind that the pic of the great bass that Wolfhollowe owns has alot more going for it than just its fingerboard. I have played fretless basses with ebony and rosewood fingerboards that did not have any mwah but I still believe that you are more likely to get that tone from something other than a maple board.
     
  18. Wolfehollow

    Wolfehollow

    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    You have a point... I get more punch and less mwah with the maple, but it sounds more uprightish to me than my other fretli... The maple board does not have to be finished with epoxy, etc... there are new alternatives out there. If you felt the board on that bass you would assume it is "natural"...
     
  19. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Nothing wrong with a maple board at all. Talk to a luthier about the differences in the woods. If I remember right one of the biggest differences between maple and a wood like ebony is that maple requires a finish to protect it. This isn't a bad thing, but it does have an effect on the sound.