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Fretted/fretless comparative action

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mheintz, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    Given two basses that are virtually identical in every respect but for one having frets and the other being fretless, which would have higher action as measured by the distance from the frets to the strings on the fretted and by the distance from the fingerboard to the strings on the fretless?

    Anyone use feeler gauges to compare? Any comparisons with fretless conversions or double necks?

    I change my own setup by feel, but for my purposes here, measurements would be helpful. Of course, opinions and guesstimates are welcome.
  2. a fretless is going to benefit from a very straight board and VERY low string height to get the 'mwah' sound. i think one company makes sure its less that .001" relief. and the nut height will be drastically reduced

    i set my basses up (if fret dressing etc allows for) with a relief of ~.008" of relief. i play with a light touch with a little bit of digging in, but i like the minor buzz i get cause it gives a 'dirty' sound. i do not have a fretless to measure. but i'm sure someone here has one. :p
  3. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    Thanks bassist4ever. Others? Picture an automated action adjuster with an assembly line of basses, would the fretted action be lower or higher than the fretless? And by how much?
  4. I have a MIM Fender Jazz fretless, and a Geddy Lee (fretted).. I can do some measuring when I get home after work... but I'll tell ya now, the action is fairly low on both of 'em.
  5. I don't think there is an absolute 'right' action, although too high to play at all is certainly not good. Everyone has their preference- that being said, however, I would guess that most people set fretless basses lower, & as bassist4ever said, much less relief.
  6. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    Thanks for the replies. I'm actually looking for empirics. Somebody with a room full of basses and a feeler gauge?
  7. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    On a fretted bass you lower the action until you hear fret buzz and then go 1/2 turn higher, on a fretless you want that buzz, so by definition the fretless should be lower.

    Having high action on a fretless makes it sound like you are playing all open strings out of tune IMO.
  8. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Of course, there are people who like fret buzz on a fretted bass, and there are those who don't like buzz on a fretless.

    So, there is no true "definition" regarding what is correct.

    So, I agree with Joshua when he says

  9. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    I am yet to have someone ask me for fretbuzz on a fretted or lack of mwah on a fretless, YMMV I guess. :confused:

    99% of fretted people have issues because of denting in the first four frets and want to get rid of that buzz.

    99% of fretless players want to sound like Michael Manring out of the box with no effort on their part.

    These are just my observations from my labor, again YMMV.