Fretless woes

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassman314, Jan 21, 2006.

  1. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    Hey folks,

    So I am curently starting to look into seriously buying a 5-string fretless. I'm almost certain 'm just going to get a Lakland 55-01 as a sister to my current 5-string fretted.

    So anyway, I'm at a music store in San Mateo, and They happen to have pretty decent Yamaha 5-string fretess. The first thing I notice? It's strung with round wounds... I try it anyway, and it does sound good... but... the mwah just gets eaten up by the round wound twang..

    I take a look at the neck... and you can see where idiots have played slap bass on the lower strings... the winding marks are clear... I'm like ***?? that's freaking lame!!

    I look around... out of like 30 basses,t ehy had about 4 fretless basses. ALL of them, including a $1,500 one of a brand I didn't recognize were string with round wounds...

    If that is your sound, great, but it seems kinda dumb for a music store to risk pretty significant damage to a neck by sticking the rounds on...

  2. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i have a stupid question: can you play slap on a fretless? wouldn't it damage the board?

    but yea. what the noob? who puts rounds on a fretless? i have a fretless that is strung with flats and it still has marks on it. not too deep, but they are there on the lower strings.
  3. AFlyOnGeddysWal


    Sep 27, 2004
    You can slap anything with a fretboard and strings without permission.
    2. Jaco, etc..., roundwounds, apples & oranges.
  4. Yeah, I was in a Guitar Center a while back and just had a great jam session on a Warwick Corvette Passive Fretless, and was admireing an entire wall of Fenders, when I hear this horrible sound. I look over my should and this porky n pimply 13 year old was playing guitar chords on the same 'Vette I just fell in love with. I pulled my girlfriend in close and said "I swear to God, that I am three seconds away from shoving this bass [ a misplaced BTB] straight up his ass for coming in this room with those chops." She said no, and we began browsing a few Sting Rays and Sterlings when it happened. I almost threw up, this little **** head was slapping away like Flea on a the same bas!!! This completely infuriated me. She grabbed my arm before I could say anything, and told me to "Let it go." I laughed and said "I feel sorry for the poor dumb son of a bitch that comes in here and pays the $1100 for that bass now." She laughed and we went back to playing some of the most to notch stuff Leo Fender had to offer.

    Yes, you can play slap on a fretless, but it's a different type of technique, just like you can 'bend' strings, but you should use the classic vibrato style, not the modern day 'Slash' style. If you want a demo or proof you can do it, just watch a little Claypool, his fretless vids are rather old, but that's when he played fretless, he mostly plays a Fender Jazz, and his 4 string CT Basses now.

  5. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    you can play slap on a fretless... if it's your fretless.. and you want to damage the fretboard...

    I think Wilits (sp?) had a greta line in a book... 'in a violent collision between steel and wood, steel will always win'

    How old is your fretless? this 5-string is basically brand new, and already is pretty marked up.

    anyway *L* rant over.. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's got an issue with this.
  6. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    I have never used anything but roundwounds on my fretless basses. You can't get that growl and punch without them. Fender MIM and MIA fretless basses come with (except the Jaco model I believe) flats, which I hate. My Fender '62 RI fretless (from Japan) came with rounds as well as a Carvin fretless I had. With fretless, wear will depend on the fretboard. My Carvin fretless which was my main bass for about 3 years, had a super hard ebony fretboard. Even after 3 years of playing, it showed very minor wear, mainly surface scratches. My Fender Japan Jazz fretless (which came from the factory with rounds) has a rosewood fretboard with will wear faster then ebony. But, the rosewood on this bass seems harder and a better grade then what comes on the MIM and MIA Fenders, and is also showing very little wear.

    Bottom line, I have been playing fretless since I first started. I never had any issue with any of my basses with worn fretboards. And there is nothing like the sound of a fretless with roundwounds. Something you cannot get with flats.....
  7. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    A lot of guys seem to freak out about wear on fretless boards.
    Personnaly, if some doofus slaps for 5 minutes on a fretless, I'll see him as an idiot, but it wouldn't stop me from buying that bass if I really like it. Worse comes to worst, just pull out some sandpaper and smooth it out, which I like to do anyways.:D
  8. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    I'm not dogging on you for choosing round wounds...

    My beef is that the store, who is trying to sell the bass, is leaving it wide open for anyone to mess with...

    deathbloomslife got what I as talking about. wankers come in and trash basses on display. That much was obvious by the amount if wear already on the fretboard.

    If rounds on fretless is your sound, more power to you!
  9. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    my Carvin is 10 years old with an ebony board, so i guess it makes sense to be a little marked up. and if ClassicJazz's Carvin came with rounds, mine probably did too. i wouldn't know since i'm at least the 3rd owner.
  10. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I dont mind slapping on my fretless every now and then.
  11. I have no problem with slapping, or stringing a fretless with rounds, none whatsoever. I just hate it when kids go into a store, pick out the most expensive bass they can, and treat it like their Squier P they've had for 2 months, and is lying face down on the carpet because they're lacking a legit stand.

    With that said, I am actually looking to attain a fretless bass sometime soon, I really love the sound, and ability to play forever without worry of not pressing on a string hard enough, and getting that disgusting *buzz* from the fret.

    I've actually got a few questions about fingerboards (no means to hijack, just read on...)

    Does a certain type of coating help reduce visable fingerboard wear? I'm referring to something similar to the polyester coating Pedulla and a few other maufacturers use on their basses. Does this really help out, or is it just sort of a notch in the 'features belt'?

  12. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Wow, thats pretty harsh! I mean the trashing of a kid because they don't have the chops that you expect them to have.

    BTW, thats why you ask for a new, "non-floor model" bass!
  13. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    What's the big deal guys? Go for the sound you want. If you want to slap with rounds on a fretless that's what you should do. It's not like dressing a fretless board is such a big deal. Your sound is much more important than a fingerboard.
  14. Pretty much everyone I know who plays fretless. The only person I personally know who uses flatwounds and actually gets mwaah is Norm Stockton. Don't know how he does it.

    I tried both Thomastic Flats and another brand of more traditional flats, and there wasn't any mwaah at all; none.

    I once brought up the fingerboard wear issue on TBL, and Roger Sadowsky responded, in effect, that life is too short to not use the strings that give you the sound you want. For me, that's roundwounds. Most fretless makers use thick enough fingerboards to allow for years and years of use and minor redressing before having to be replaced.

  15. middlebit


    Sep 10, 2005
    People can slap all they like on their own fretless basses - just not on mine! But honestly, I've never heard anyone sound good slapping a fretless bass...
    Anyway, I've had my main fretless for 10 years now and the fingerboard is showing only slight wear(I've always had roundwounds on it). If you use correct left hand technique on a fretless (that means no bending strings), I can't really see you replacing the neck or board for...well, many many years.

    Hey, too bad about that punk ruining the bass!
  16. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    How about half-rounds like D'Addario Chromes? Isn't that a reasonable compromise where you just about get "mwah" without the wear and tear on yr fretboard? I've never tried them, only read about them. Anyone out there give it a shot?

    As for the 13-year-old, pimple boy slapping a bass that was way out of his league… People be honest, we've all been there once. However, I'll say this much for myself, I was usually too intimidated to mess around on a $1,100+ bass. If anything, a sales person should have tactfully advise the kid not to do that in a way that did not trash the kid’s ego. The kid would have learned a valuable lesson and the fretboard of that Warwick would have been well in tact; no harm done to anyone.

  17. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Fender fretless basses always come from the factory with flats. IMO all fretless basses should. My Brice 6er has lots of nasty roundwound scars on the neck from being on the showroom floor and I wish it didn't.
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Not to start a fight, but I have a Fender Jazz Fretless that came from the factory with rounds. It made it onto the showroom floor for about 2 days and has a bit of wear from them. I know this because I still have them. Being somewhat obsessive about my gear, I have all of the original paperwork, etc along with the strings set aside. In the same envelope I also have any of the parts I've switched out over the years.

    I've had half flats, ground wound, flats and nylon tape wounds on the bass since I bought it about 12 years ago, and I may switch back to rounds. I like the feel of rounds better and the sound is more defined.

    I have seen several great players slap on fretless basses and sound amazing. A good player is a good player is a good player, no matter what bass is being used.
  19. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT
    Les still plays fretless regularly. He put the Rainbow Bass down for a little bit during the Brown Album and Antipop because he was being pigeoned holed for all of his tapping and the like. It has since been brought out during most, if not all, of his side projects. He also uses his 4 string piccolo fretless also, though somewhat less often, but it's still in regular rotation. I haven't known him to play his jazz since the Brown Album era.

    At any rate, I believe Les uses roundwounds on his fretless basses, and i love the tone he gets with them. A large part of that is thanks to carl, but I'm considering putting rounds on my extended range fretless when i get it. My modulus quantum 4 is strung with flats, but i wouldn't be afraid to use rounds on the carbon fiber.
  20. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    In addition to Claypool, doesn’t the South African guy who used to play with Paul Simon (forget his name) slap on a fretless and kick a multitude of butt in the process? And my educated guess is that he uses rounds.

    BTW, I know the MIM Jazz fretless is shipped with flats, however every new domestic Fender fretless I've seen has had rounds on them. Granted, the shop may have switched the strings to rounds but given these tales of wear on the board from being on the floor with rounds, that doesn't sound too logical.