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Fretted vs Fretless Setup

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bass2x, Dec 5, 2005.


  1. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    A subject that coulda been covered before, but I couldn't find it...

    Have my first fretless bass due in tomorrow and wanted any setup tips - that differ from a fretted setup. 'preciate it. Thanks.
     
  2. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    Thanks for those pointers, Joshua.
    One other thing, are round wounds strictly taboo on fretless? I understand they eat the fretboard. Not into an epoxy board... but will flats give you any punch at all?
     
  3. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    I can only go by the previous owners remarkes re: the board's condition. I haven't actually seen it. The bass is due to arrive today. It's my first fretless and I'm pumped. My comments were from reading about Jaco (marine epoxy) and others (super glue). Maybe split the difference - I have a set of Ken Smith Compressors here I was gonna use on my G&L L-15500. If I use 'em on the fretless, will I get some bark?
     
  4. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    This is my first exposure to fretless playing. Went with a Cort, the idea being the investment wouldn't be that great if it didn't pan out. (Actually, I was in a Guitar Center recently and played a Cort Artisan series fretted bass and was impressed, so thought I'd take a shot at one of their fretless). And, all the fretless Fender Standard J basses didn't move me. If I keep a fretless beyond this intro period, I'd like something with a single Bart ala Willis Signature but in a 4 string model.

    Anyway, the Cort is arriving with Fender flats on it. Just considering options. Some say flats only on a fretless.
     
  5. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    Most fretless basses come "out of the box" with the nut action WAY too high. If you have appropriate files you will be much happier with your instrument if you file the nut slots down (or have the store do it) so that the strings are no more than 0.025 inches from the fingerboard. I like it lower than that.

    Strings? If you can afford them you should try TI Jazz Flats. A bit pricy but they last a long time.
     
  6. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    I have TI flats on my fretted G&L SB-2. Love 'em!
    Not crazy about the neck on this Cort Artisan fretless. I have J necks on my fretted bases, think I made a mistake with this one. I should have gone with a Fender MIM Jazz for my first.
     
  7. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    Interesting... don't think I'd try that myself, but the fact that you say 'lower' is intriguing. But, THAT low? How can the string vibrate? Do you mean 0.25" ?
     
  8. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    The clearance is zero when you're fingering a note, why should it be any different at the nut? Theoretically you should be able to take it down to nothing. I use a business card which is actually about 0.015.
     
  9. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    Amazing. Guess I'm stuck in fretted mode...
    I'll buy another nut to experiment with. Can this be done with standard files? Tips?
     
  10. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    I can only imagine what it would be like playing a bass with a quarter of an inch action at the nut :crying:
     
  11. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    If you have a set of needle files you might be able to do it. Or you can buy nut slotting files. Stewmac has them.
     
  12. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    Thanks, Thor.
    Why do you suppose mfgs sell their fretless basses with the action set so high? Of all the adjustments available, the nut is not the easiest to manipulate...

    Just to be clear, you are recommending this height adj for finger style, not tapping, right?
     
  13. johnvice

    johnvice

    Sep 7, 2004
    The really great thing about fretless is that there is no buzzing (as there are no frets). For this reason I have mine setup really low.

    I have the intonation set-up so that when my finger is right on the fretline marker, I am in pitch.

    If you use rounds, there will be fretboard wear.

    I was going to do the epoxy thingy. Crazy glue seems like the resin of choice these days. (There are many posts on this topic in TalkBass.)

    My fretless came with flatwounds and I wanted to use them (to get my money's worth out of them). I switched to roundwounds but went back to flats as I prefered the sound of them, particulary in the upper register. Also, I have roundwounds on my fretted bass so I wanted to go with a countrasting sound.
     
  14. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    I guess the problem I'm having, not being fretless savy, is that I can't understand how the string can sound w/o room to vibrate. Seems like you would get a momentary tone then immediately 'boarded' out...
     
  15. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    The amplitude of vibration at the nut is, well, zero. The amplitude of vibration at, say, where the first fret would be is almost zero. So you hardly need any clearance at all.
     
  16. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    NH
    Builder: ThorBass
    At the point where the string is touching the fingerboard it isn't really moving. The further the string is from your finger, the more it vibrates, but it's also further from the fingerboard. You actually get more of a damping effect from your finger than from the fingerboard.

    (oh, looks like AG beat me to it...)
     
  17. Bass2x

    Bass2x

    Jul 25, 2005
    SoNJ
    Ok, so yer sayin the fretboard drops away from the nut fairly quickly so the string/note doesn't bottom out farther down where the amplitude is greatest... and still attain relatively close action thruout?

    I'm gettin it...
    guess I'm a little dense.

    Is the same nut used for fretted and fretless models of the same mfg?
    That would explain the high fretless stock setting.
     
  18. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    BTW, as to why they come with nuts that arent filed low enough, is I believe most manufacturer's pre-make all their nuts, then attach them during final assembly. Rather than have a pile of fretless nuts and fretted ones, they use the same on them all, which makes the fretless ones too high. Id get the set of nut files from Stew Mac and trim them down as well. I did so on my Ibanez when I de-fretted it. Played and sounded bad before I did it, played great and had lots more mwah afterwords, which I think is what most people look for in a fretless.

    As for rounds, Id say it would depend on your board. If the board is ebony, it will wear less than say rosewood. Also, check the thickness of the board. If its very thin, you may want to stick to flats. If its thick, Id use rounds, and get a resurface done every few years or so depending on how hard you play. And just keep in mind what wears the board out and use a light touch as much as possible like the above poster said.