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From fretted to fretless as major bass?... some questions.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by De Teng, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Once in a while (and as a Jaco addict too) I am beginning to think that a fretless bass could be perhaps my main-style bass. I personally think my technique won't give any problems playing the fretless bass, but I think more now of the context of the band I play in. There are a lot of moments in the song, where I really could need the fretless sound.

    We make songs which are subtile and intimate in-your-face, but sometimes very powerfull 'in a rocking way of speaking'. Sometimes I slap, but most of the time (about 98% or so) I use groovy fingerstyle. I was wondering if the fretless bass could give me comfort in my needs.

    I was wondering anyone thought of this him/herself and if you swapped basses, how was it in the beginning...do you miss it...etc...?

  2. I ran across an inexpensive fretless 5-string last February. I bought it with the intention of just seeing whether I'd like it and if I could even play the thing. The day it arrived, we had a youth funtion at church that evening. I took it to the practice before the function to see how it would play and sound. I also took my fretted bass with me with the intention of actually using it for the service, not the fretless. The practice went well enough that I never even took the fretted out of the case. I've used the fretless for my main bass ever since. I play mainly in the church environment at least twice a week (youth group and Sunday mornings). At 55, I'm the oldest member of the youth group. They lost their bass player about two years ago and asked if I'd fill in until they found another. No one has stepped up to the plate yet, so I'm still with them. The Pastor says I'm the oldest teen at church. Anyway, our music styles are varied; rock, country, mellow pieces, and some that are quite funky. The fretless has been working well for all those.
  3. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I have a fretless 6 that I tend to play more than my fretted 5. Both are great basses, but I just seem to like the fretless more right now.

    I also play in church and the fretless just "works" better.
  4. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I feel the same way. :)
  5. Yeah there's just something about it. I'm not really into slap so I play all fretless. I think it's great for any kind of music where you have to be as smooth as possible. For me, this means anything from church music to RHCP or RATM, which I play.

    If I was going to buy another bass right now, I would definately be looking at a fretted 6+ because I love tapping and want to get better at it. You can tap on a fretless but it's 100x easier with frets. Still, I love my fretless 4.
  6. Do you miss it in the beginning?

    I didn't.

    I have my unlined fretless about a year and a half now. When I first got it, it was the only bass I played for about 3 months. Then, little by little I began playing my fretted basses again, which then seemeed like more fun than before. Now, I play my fretless about one third of the time, and my frettteds the other two thirds. If I had to play only fretless it wouldn't bother me that much, but after playing fretless for a while it just feels nice to go back to a fretted.

    Get a fretless, you will not regret it. :cool:

    Mike ;)
  7. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I hope I never have to make a choice between the two as I love both!

    As a "child of the '80s", I'm a slap/pop player now and then ...and you can't do that on a fretless.

    One of the big advantages of fretless is the inter-note magic where you play a note slighlty sharp or flat and then slide to the correct pitch.

    There are fretted equivilents to this like string bending, which you also shouldn't do on a fretless.
  8. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Alright then... it's dependent on the music style and the owner's playing style. And personal taste.... damn.. it allways comes at those three points in the end.

    More reactions are more than welcome!
  9. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I have been exclusively fretless for 10 years. I had a G&L Climax for a while that I picked up for a song from a store going out of business. I used it for 10 or so gigs, but never connected with it.

    I use fretless for all styles of music. My main band is a three piece classic rock cover band. It works just fine. I don't have it set up for mwah. The action is a little higher, but as low as I can go.

    I love fretless. I find it challenging and fun.
  10. Bassart1

    Bassart1 Guest

    Jun 26, 2003
    Be extra careful with your intonation and there is no reason you can't make it work and in fact you may even surprise yourself with how many styles you can make the fretless fit by being creative with your technique.
  11. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Thanks people, I was refering to the former poster which was an eighties addict. He was fund of popping stuff. I don't do this a lot. I was thinking while I played yesterday evening how it would sound on fretless... ;)

    All those replies make me think of making a nice trade... now I must have money! :mrgreen:
  12. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I've used fretless as my main bass for the last 15 years.
    You can play it in any situation.
    Even slap on it.
  13. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I started on fretless, exclusively. For some years, then I stopped and STUPID, STUPID, STUPIDLY sold it!!!

    Now I built myself a new one...home sweet home...

    I do about 60/40 fretless now, mainly becasue some songs are just to addicted to the BassLab sound to be played on a woodie - and my STD is fretted, so...wattado? :D
  14. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Man, I know what you mean... I traded my '79 Precision fretless (rosewood board, natural body.....so nice) for a small guitar combo. In the end I lost a lot of money of the combo due to the weak dollar..... I really regret it.
  15. JTbass


    Jul 2, 2004
    Asutin TX
    bass is dope
  16. FR5


    Feb 12, 2004
    I have been playing fretless exclusively for about 15 years now, first 4 string, now 5 string. Never looked back.

    I still own an Ibanez fretted 4-string but haven't seen it in years, loaned it to a friend and it is always nice to have a back-up in case I have a serious problem with the Rikkers (I shouldn't be saying this, bad luck).

    But I wouldn't mind owning a good fretted 5-string with low action, for some punchy slapping.

    Hmm, I can't even find enough time as it is to seriously work on my intonation in the upper ranges, better concentrate on that first, you can probably hear my pathetic attempts where you are living :crying:

  17. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    A good fretless is a ton of fun to play. It can make songs that would be doring on a fretted bass interesting to play. If you like to bend notes on your fretted, be careful you don't accidently bend a note on the fretless the same you would on a fretted-by sort of pulling the string down-that can be bad for the fingerboard.

    I had to wimp out and get a lined fretless, just didn't have time to get my intonation down on an unlined. It can do most things a fretted can, except that aggressive rapping off the frets sort of stuff and sounding like Fieldy. I use both fretted and fretless, you may end up deciding you want frets for certain songs, but either way it's cool to have a fretless.
  18. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Stepping on my soapbox for a minute...

    I don't think it's "wimping out" to have fret lines. I like to have the reference. I don't think it make one less of a player. Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets) for example has lines and seems to be a pretty respected performer and writer.

    ...stepping off.
  19. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    when I was auditioning for bands the last couple years... I announced myself as playing "fretless" not "bass" :smug:

    I'm at about 95% fretless 5% fretted and play fingerstyle about 98% of the time too. I'm forcing myself to pick up my fretted more now, but I went years without even owning a fretted.

    I do love Jaco and mwah BUT for me, I play fretless because of Tony Franklin's work in "the Firm" and these days I'm pushing the URB & P with flats side of electric fretless tone.
  20. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    :cool: Right on .
    Could not agree more.