Help designing first Warmoth Fretless 5 string!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lorenzop, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    Hi all
    So I'll take the plunge and go the Warmoth way on this! I'll have professional assistance assembling it do for now my only dilemmas revolve around design questions.

    Basically: Gecko 5 small fretless or a Jbass 5 fretless in P/J configuration?

    I'm looking for maximum sustain to be honest, I want a fretless sound whose note "blooms" both in deep tones (b string) and sings up high.

    As I think the neck is the key to this, I figured the Gecko neck with its 5 piece laminate and 2 graphite bars should be good at sustain and clarity (35" scale).

    On the other hand I love J bass and to be honest 1" difference in scale can be overcome with good strings and setup, don't you think?

    Unfortunately it's hard to find sound/vids of the Gecko 5 fretless so I wonder really how it is despite positive feedback.

    I also wonder how well it would balance in comparison to a J or P bass 5.

    Finally the woods: my plan is Ash body and Maple neck with ebony fingerboard, what do you think?

    Electronics: I'm thinking to experiment with a P neck and a MusicMan bridge pup! Do you think it's overkill? I think the MM bridge should go on the Gecko especially as I've no idea how well it's bridge midrange sound is and the MM should give enough options. I believe there's also a fender k bass deluxe version that has combination.

    So these are my first thoughts. I'd appreciate yours too!

  2. Steveman


    Jun 25, 2010
    In regards to body, note that Geckos are 35 inch scale, while the standard for basses is 34 inch. If you're not accustomed to 35 inches, you probably shouldn't get the Gecko.

    As far as pick-ups go, it really depends on what you're looking for. If you want the Jaco treatment, I get a JJ set-up. Personally, I would go Seymour Duncan Dual coils. I'm not too big a fan of the Music Man pick-up on a fretless, but that's just me.

    As far as sustain goes, make sure you get a brass bridge / nut. I'm a huge fan of the Hipshot A style bridge. Body wood, I would go with Walnut, it really goes well with an Ebony fretless fingerboard.
  3. 34" scale is fine with the right strings. I've tuned as low as f# on a 34" scale with the right strings and setup there are no issues. I would go with the jazz, mainly because fender refuses to produce a fretless 5 string. But if you decided to go with a 6 there only option is a gecko
  4. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Agreed. I would also avoid going to a 35" if you're used to 34", especially for a fretless.

    I think a P/J configuration is a great idea for a fretless (I have one). I'd try to find a preamp/pickup combination that works for both active and passive sound for maximum options.

    I'd think that a metal nut would work better on a fretted instrument, and something of a different material (Graph-Tech? Tusq?) might be better suited for a fretless. Keep in mind though that only open notes are directly affected by the nut, so I'd be more concerned with choosing nut material to be more consistent with fretboard material than for its sustain properties. I have a nut cut out of ebony on my fretless and I'm happy with it.

    Edit: Can't go wrong with an ebony fretboard. I'd go with that or bloodwood (extremely stable). As for the body, IMO, get whatever you think is pretty and don't pay attention to the "tonewood" thing for the body of a fretless electric bass.
  5. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    I would read through the Warmoth Owner's threads here and also check out FWIW, I played fretless exclusively for 12+ years and I never found a better tone than passive. Fretless should be organic, and every active I have ever played or heard has sounded very artificial, almost MIDI- or synth-like to my ears. As always, acronyms.

  6. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    Thanks for the tips. Yes brass bridge is best I must remember that ...

    I've been reading the Warmoth threads here also but still I can't/couldn't make up my mind about the above.

    I'd also agree that passive is all I need. in that case p/j is best I guess.
    That's one more point for a J style over the Gecko.

    If I had an ash body / maple ebony neck, do you think it would still balance well given the bigger neck and "lighter" wood?

    Also what do you say about the 5 pieve Gecko neck vs. one piece J neck... for sustain.
    Would a 5 string j neck be less susceptible to dead spots anyways given the more mass? Esp with graphite rods? (steel which Warmoth recommends might make it unbalanced I think)

  7. Steveman


    Jun 25, 2010
    I have a Warmoth 5-string with graphite rods and have no deadspots, make sure you get heavier set tuners, not ultra-lites.
  8. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    Any other ideas?
  9. bonga_rascal


    Sep 9, 2010
    Ya, I wouldn't try anything exotic. Keep it simple. Traditional woods like Alder, Ash are best for bass bodies. Use a straight maple neck and for a fretless fingerboard go with Ebony or Pau Ferro.

    A 34" scale neck with graphite or steel bars is going to be a good solid piece of wood. I'd recommend using an ash body if you're going with a Pau Ferro board or an Alder body if you're going with an ebony board.
  10. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    Do you think ebony/maple over ash is too bright for fretless ?

    My best sustaining bass is maple body with mohogany (3 piece laminate) and bolt on maple/rosewood. Maybe I should copy that.... Pedullas also are maple + maple and ebony.
  11. bonga_rascal


    Sep 9, 2010
    Ash with ebony is yes, a bit bright for my personal taste. YMMV. Pickups will also play a huge role. My personal pick will be Bartolinis or Nordstrands.

    One more thing, I think that the Bartolinis that Pedulla and MTD use are custom made for them. So maybe that's another thing you need to consider if you're hoping to get that sort of tone from off the shelf pickups.
  12. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    I think I'll go for ash body - wenge neck / ebony fingerboard.

    Now, should it be a P bass 5 body or a Jazz body? I want to put a pj configuration on it, or P - MusicMan configuration.

    I also generally find P bass 5 necks more comfortable to play but that's because of flatter shaped underside.

    Im not sure what body I can use. I like and have both as 4 strings...