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Fretted or Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mr L, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    So a lot of my friends that play bass swear by their fretless, however i am new to playing bass but i do really like the sound they have. My question is (and i apologize for my lack of knowledge) are fretless basses more difficult to play/learn than a fretted bass? Also i play in a church band, we are really directed towards the younger people in our church so we do have a much more up-beat sound. Would a fretless have any place in a band like this?

    Thanks :)
  2. K-Punk

    K-Punk Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    Intonation is the key to playing fretless bass...Nobody likes an out of tune bass. :)
  3. Fretless bass takes some dedicated practicing. There are many string, construction, and electronics configs out there, so there isn't just one singular sound.
  4. I play a fretless in our praise band. No one has complained yet.

    That being said, yes, the fretless may prove to be more difficult, but not THAT much more. Violins, cellos, violas, ouds, and upright basses don't have frets either but people still learn to play them.

    Since it seems you have started learning to play bass and already have some musical training then learning and playing fretless shouldn't be that much harder. And, if you feel more comfortable playing a fretless with lines then by all means use one.

    Have fun in your new world of fretlessing.
  5. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Upright bassists do/did not have the option of learning to play their choice of bass with a fretted upright bass (discounting the centuries old versions with gut string "frets"). Just sayin'.

    As to where you plan on playing it, that is a decision you will have to make as I have no experience in those environs, but fretless bass has been used in some pretty heavy music, like jazz fusion and even heavy metal. So, I say, go for it, you won't regret your choice. :cool:
  6. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    The word ''difficult'' is maybe not the right word. I would say that you should train you ears better, cause it takes some more precision to get clear notes from a fretless. I think you will handle it with a lined freatboard :)
  7. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    I think i might give the lined fret board a try.

    Got an offer on CL to trade my Squier Jazz for a Squier fretless, might just take that offer up.
  8. The lined vs. unlined debate is one of the many that will never be settled.

    I play unlined because that's what my first fretless was, which is generally why most people will stick with their lined or unlined bass. I personally find that lines are confusing since the best pitch isn't where the line is.
  9. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Sounds good! Go for it and have a lot of fun with it!! :hyper:
  10. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Well it could help others for sure! I think it's good to start with. If he trains his ears I think he will get the pitch out good :)
  11. Qlanq


    Jul 9, 2007
    Good luck to you L. I mainly play fretted but I just love to noodle on my fretless, it can be a bit tricky but once you get into it and make it sing- that's nice. By the way, I have the VM Squire fretless and it is a nice bass. Enjoy.
  12. Ya don't really start on lined to move towards unlined some day. Part of the misinformed "debate" is that lines are universally easier or training wheels, which simply aren't true. Upon this insult, lined players often claim that unlined players simply can't play in tune, which also isn't a universal truth. Then we get into debates because these artists use lines and these guys don't. Case in point, Jaco used lines because he yanked the frets out of his bass and the slots needed to be filled. This was simply because fretless basses weren't as readily available back then.
  13. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Well I have to give you right there..
  14. BassFreak98


    Apr 29, 2012
    Being a relatively 'new' bassist, I can't see what the craze is about fretless basses. For me at least, they don't sound like anything you can't obtain with a fretted bass, after messing with tunings. Also, it's 100x harder because you can't see where you're playing, but it takes practice I guess. I got to play one at my local music shop and I just didn't like it. It didn't 'feel' like a bass to be. I dunno. They're just not for me. I like the standard, 4 string Fenders. A new bassist going with old but gold.
  15. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    don't get fretless if you don't like the sound of a fretless bass, if thats the case its not the instrument for you. If you are just starting you should get an instrument you like or else you will lose interest quickly.

    As far as difficulty when you start I don't think it matters because you will be learning quickly and you will adapt to fretless fast (if thats the instrument you get). For me, I started with upright so playing fretless was natural, in the other hand when I bought my first fretted bass it took me some time to get used to... Even though i didn't have to worry about intonation as much the frets felt like speed bumps to me. But now that I practice both equally there is no difference.
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    When I spend an extended period of time playing only my fretless basses, when I go back to playing one of my fretted basses I feel like I am caged in by the frets.
  17. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Wasn't it Jaco who called them 'speed bumps'?

    I'm looking forward to getting into fretless in the future, It's not a huge goal for me ATM though.
  18. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Hearing Percy Jones when Unorthodox Behavior first came out was very ear opening to me; I had a '72 Telecaster Bass at the time and pulled the frets out of it! :bassist:
  19. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    I heard Flea did the same thing LOL. Jaco made some massive waves, even though he was only well known for a little over a decade.
  20. GroovinOnFunk


    Apr 30, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Endorses Cleartone and SIT Strings
    Not sure what this means... Jaco is still vey well known. I'd say he's coming up on his 6th decade of being very well known.

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