Fretted vs. Fretless

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by metallicarules, Nov 28, 2000.

  1. I'm fairly new to bass playing and I was wondering if anyone could tell me some of the advantages and disadvantages of fretless basses. I recently had the luxury of playing on a $3000 fretless warwick for about 5 minutes and it was so nice and smooth without the frets it made me wonder why any famous bass players would still use fretted basses.
  2. There arent really any disadvantages to a fretless. It just
    has a different voice than a fretted. Practice with both. Different kinds on songs require different tones.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The two instruments feel and sound very different to the average player. A fretted bass has a bright tone, fast attack and a tapering decay. A (properly set up) fretless will have a delayed attack with a slightly nasal swell that resebles the signal from an envelope filter-what bassists refer to as "mwah." Tonewise, a fretless can come close to a fretted in terms of brightness, provided you use roundwound strings on a coated fingerboard; a lot of fretless players, however, like to exploit the more subdued tone that comes with flatwounds an uncoated fingerboard. Tapping is considerably easier and louder on a fretted instrument, but possible on fretless as well (see, eg. Michael Manring). On the other hand, sliding artificial harmonics work better on fretless. Lastly, there's the whole intonation issue. On a fretted bass, the instrument largely chooses the notes for you; on a fretless, you're pretty much free to do whatever you want, pitchwise.