1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Fretted to Fretless in one bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wadge, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Ok, I've had this idea in my head for as long as I've been playing bass - which is about twelve years now.

    Do you think it is possible, or whether it has in fact been done - that there be invented a device, system, whatever to be able to have removable frets on a bass so that it can become a fretless at a moments notice and then to attach them again.

    I was thinking vaguely about a system where by some lever, a la hipshot, the frets could be sunk into the neck making it a fretless.

    After you stop laughing at me, do you think this is at all possible? Or am I crazy for considering it - cause think about the possiblities - changing to fretless mid-song for a bass solo :hyper:
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    It's been done twice with mixed success.
    First one was a company that offered magnet clipped switchable boards. Silverbass or something like that.
    The over one was a prototype made by Steinberger, with a knob at the end of the neck that could lift the board. It never got into production because tone wasn't very convincing.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska

    The biggest problem is, there's no way to get a smooth board with this kind of arrangement, so you'll never get a good fretless out of it.

    Way back in the 80's, a company called Novatone developed switchable fretboards, with fretted, fretless, metal fretless, etc. that could be switched in a minute or two. Tony Levin and a few others played them, but they never caught on.

    Neuser also makes a special bridge that adds "buzz" which is supposed to simulate the sound of a fretless when it's switched on.

    For my part, if I wanted to switch from fretted to fretless sounds mid-song, I'd either go the traditional route (doubleneck) or the high-tech route (digital modelling, i.e. the V-Bass or the Variaxe) rather than a cumbersome mechanical solution.

  4. Matt Pulcinella builds basses that are fretted in the lower positions and fretless in the upper positions. I think he lets you choose where you want to make the switch. This may be a good solution for you. Way back in the early '80's Kramer did the same thing. Matt's a real good guy and he builds nice stuff. You should check his site out if you haven't already.
  5. dveeus1


    Jan 7, 2001
    DFW, Texas
    Darryl Jones used to play a blue Guild pilot bass with a Nova fingerboard. That bass could go from Fretted to Fretless in about 10 seconds.
  6. This is really not a practical solution and hence is why the idea has never caught on. It really is much easier and makes much more sense from both a playability and economic sense to just own two basses.
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Many ideas have been shown also in TB. They have also all shown to be...inappropriate, i.e. not good for both fretted and fretless.
    If you really want both, until the lightning strucks, at least, you have two choices. Non of them are electronical, or any other kind of device - they all build on fretted instruments, and if that's OK with you, you aren't really interested in fretless.

    - two basses (minimum :D )
    - a doubleneck (minimum :D )
  8. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    There are some patents for changing between modes on the fly. Four of which I am aware. One involving pressure sensitive frets, one involving frets that rise from the fingerboard, one that involves a fretless neck that is lowered over frets and one that involves grooves instead of frets in the fingerboard. Incidentally, the latter doesn't seem sufficiently novel to be patentable; it is easily done by any luthier and it was already in the prior art. However, it really isn't very much like a fretless. The other three have benefits and drawbacks. I am also aware of some other people working on alternative solutions. I'll keep you posted.

  9. Brown's guitar company does as well...they want ALOT of money for theirs.
  10. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    How do you like this one?
    Low B and E strings are fretted, middle A, D and G strings are fretless, and high C and F are fretted again. I saw it live several times, it works very well.

  11. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Buy One of each.
    As said above, never get a good fretless board.
    Just a sales gimmick.
  12. TMWPB


    Mar 1, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    You could do kind of what Lee Sklar does. He has mandolin frets and then lets them wear a little bit and he gets fretted intonation with a little bit a fretless sound.
  13. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    Some one makes a bass that has frets 1~12 and then is fretless from 13+.
  14. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Sounds like a Browne factory bass (not to be Mike Browne's basses)...

    Sorry to rejuvenate an old thread, but I was doing a search on Novatone fingerboards and I came across this thread...

    Here is a fretless Novatone board I found on the 'Bay:

  15. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses, Taurus Amplification
    this is THE CLOSEST to being a useable solution i`ve seen so far.
    BUT, i would tune a 6 string bass BEA (fretted) ADG (fretless)... or maybe a bit more crazy

    B fretted
    E fretless from 12th fret
    A fretless from 9thfret
    D fretless from 7tg fret
    G from 5th
    and C fretless

    with this solution, you can pretty much do a lot of fretted stuff, slapping etc, and still have a lot of fretless range to work with, without the overkill of doubling strings etc...
  16. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    how about something that changes from a fretted to a fretless:

    with a twist of the knob...

    Changes from this...

    To this.
  17. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
  18. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
  19. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
  20. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005