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FrettedLess bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SanDiegoHarry, Jun 3, 2014.


  1. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    So a fellow at work brought this bass in for me to check out. It is a "FrettedLess" 4 string from Brown's Guitar Factory. I can't tell the year (not seeing on the bass) but it looks well cared for / nearly new.

    The build quality is *odd*: Body looks pretty nice - unknown core wood (it's painted black on the back and sides), quilt top, semi-hollow (yes, there is neck dive). EMG soapbar (Gold lettering - I can't remember what that means!);

    The bolt-on neck... Well, it's not really bad - but it's strange. It appears to be two pieces of quarter sawed maple, mated at the center - but of significantly different wood color and with a ridge/seem that is very easily felt along the mating point. Not good. That said, it plays decently. Were this mine, I'd strip/sand the neck just before I put some decent new strings on it.

    Anyway, I did a search on TB and it looks like these captured a great deal of interest about 8-10 years ago and then... didn't.

    Anyone have an opinion or price/value info? My brief search has found none of these for sale.

    [​IMG] Frettedless.
     
  2. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Nashville,TN
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    I remember them, too. Broadway Music in Nashville had one-I think it was in the 2-3K range. Since it's not an established builder that's around much, I have no idea what the used market for these is. They sort of came and went.
    They're still there. Here's the website:
    http://www.brownsguitarfactory.com/
    Holy Cow! Looks like that's about a 6K bass!
     
  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    It sure doesn't play like a $6K bass...
     
  4. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Nashville,TN
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    As we say in the South, he's right proud of those! :)
     
  5. zontar

    zontar

    Feb 19, 2014
    J-5
    Depending on your style--that could be cool.
    Although I guess you could adapt your style or create it to suit that bass.
     
  6. Kevin aka Kebo

    Kevin aka Kebo Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2011
    Princeton NJ
    Owner - Kebo's Bass Works
    When I wrote for Premier Guitar, I did a review on this bass. Itll still google up. As a journalist, I needed to keep a very open mind... I found the bass "interesting". Just as a side bar - John Brown is one of the best bass luthiers in the US..
     
  7. Duplo42

    Duplo42

    Jan 23, 2007
    I had a custom-built by local luthier to my specs, half fretted half fretless, in 1995. It was great for the role I had in band, which was sort of rock songs with occasional slow number where I played solos. Ebony fingerboard, soapbar bartolini in MM position. Fretless part had a real singing tone and it was perfect for what I needed - I could get aggressive pick tones, I could slap and get really great fretless tone.
    I can see how this bass is good for all this, I do want to hear it in action thou.
     
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Nashville,TN
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Here's your review. I think the one at Broadway Music had a SRP of 4K and Street of between 2 and 3. Interesting-his guitar looks pretty nice as well.
    http://www.brownsguitarfactory.com/reviews/1-reviews-4stringBassBoltOn.pdf
    http://www.brownsguitarfactory.com/reviews/browns_guitar_factory_chambered_review.pdf
     
  9. Reminds me of the bass used by Cronos from Venom. I like it.
     
  10. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    IMO the concept would be more functional on a 5er, because it would allow the fretless section to get lower....so for eg one could go from A on the E string, fretted, to A on the B string, fretless. Cool idea.
     
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Nashville,TN
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
  12. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Interesting but I have to wonder about the validity of his patent (published in 1991 so it is probably expired by now anyway) since claim 1 reads:

    "1. A fingerboard of a stringed instrument having a longitudinal dimension along which a plurality of strings extend between a tension bridge and a nut on said instrument, said fingerboard comprising:
    a fretted portion which extends transversely across said fingerboard beneath at least one but less than all of said strings, the frets of said fretted portion rising a selected height above said fingerboard and being spaced apart according to a selected tonal pattern; and

    a fretless portion of said fingerboard extending transversely across said fingerboard beneath at least one but less than all of said strings, said fretless portion of said fingerboard having a relatively smooth surface and extending longitudinally along said fingerboard sufficiently to cover an area in which a plurality of consecutive frets would have otherwise occurred if said pattern of frets had been maintained in said fretless portion.
    "

    If you are familiar with the viola da gamba (or viol) family you will recognize that claim 1 describes a viol fret/fingerboard and that constitutes prior art by about 500 years! The concept was reasonably successful for the viol family however, even if the violin family did become the standard, so I am sure the design has merit. His idea to raise the fretless portion of the fingerboard to match the fret height may be new. Or it was in 1991 anyway....

    Now the frets on the viols were tied on so that the temperament of the instrument could be changed to fit the key of the music being played. That seems like an incredibly fiddly way to go about business but I would suppose that if you wanted to try this idea out before possibly buying one of these basses you could borrow this idea from the viols and take any fretless bass you have and contrive some way to put tied-on or taped-on frets on half of its fingerboard.
     

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