Help me find the fretless "MWAAAAHH"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pitbill, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    Hello all of you fretless people! I have been wanting to venture into the fretless world for some time now and I absolutely love the whiney fretless "mwaaahh" sound. I have been shopping around at my local stores and doing alot of research here on the forums and a few other web sites. I haven't been able to get my hands on more than a handful of fretless basses locally ; and the ones I have tried I enjoyed playing (mainly Fender Jazzes and Yamahas); however they were really lacking the desired sound I am searching for. They have mostly been kind of plain "thuddy" sounding with no "mwaahh" at all; similar more to a very plain upright sound. Perhaps the stores just didn't really have them setup properly. I realize there are alot of factors in getting the "elusive mwaahh",...setup, strings, woods, electronics, and of course the player's own ability.

    I guess my question is,... what would be some of the best basses out there for this sound I'm looking for? Or another way of asking it...are there any basses out there that just have a natural ability to produce the "mwaahh" sound better than others?

    I'm sorry if this sounds too much of a general or repetitive question. I've done a search and found some good info, just wanted to get some more straight up stuff from you guys. Also, I would be looking to spend in the $800-$1400 range if this would also help with the choices. Any suggestions or commments would really help since I can't get my hands on too many fretless basses here to give 'em a test drive.

  2. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    I remember someone here on TB was selling a Lakland 44-94 fretless for 1300 shipped, i bet that would fit the bill...
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You are talking about a Pedulla or a Zon. Lakland's cool, but mine definitely doesn't have the mwah of my Pedulla ThunderBolt 5. I'd say get a used Pedulla BuzzBass or ThunderBolt.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Here's a pic of my two fretlii.

  5. my bass teacher has a custom pedula its all gold gold hardware everything even the fret lines are gold although it is a fretless it has that whaaa sound u want hes got bartiloni pickups if thats how u spell it anyway its a super nice bass to play too actulaly i was playin it tonight i told him i broke one of my stings in hopes i would get to play his pedula or his 72 mia fender precision or his warlock acoustic anyway back to the point go wiht a used pedulla u should beable to get one used in ur price range anyway hope u get what u want

    i know my punctuation is horrible actually i have none but whatever just dont read it outloud.
  6. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    You guys are definitely right, used is the way to go! I owned a Stingray a few years back and liked the feel of the neck, I wouldn't mind trying one of those fretless at all. I have heard alot of good stuff about the Laklands (BTW: very beautiful 5'ers Munji) lately, but have never had the priveledge of trying one, fretted or fretless.

    Thanks for the advice guys.
  7. You might want to revisit any of those basses w/ a little more MWAh based know-how.

    I find that Mwah is primarily in the setup of the bass and in your playing style.
    i can get the upright like sound on my fretless. like your describing, by playing back on the first pickup cover and having my string set a little higher than normal.
    If i want more Mwah, I use low action and climb to either the bridge (if its a jazz style bass) or climb onto the end of the fretboard. I changeup my technique a bit as well.
    Did any of those basses you looked at have Mwah on the D and G string around the 10-12frets? I've noticed that on even in baddly dialed in fretlesses basses there is Mwah there you just have to go out and find it.
    fortunately some basses have it in truckloads (like the pedulla Buzz type basses)
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Go away. Come back after you finish third grade.
  9. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    Actually FCM3 I couldn't get any mwhaa anywhere on the fenders. One was a regular MIA Jazz and one was a MIA Jazz Deluxe. The others were some low end Yamahas (don't remember which ones). I'd say you're right, properly setup I'm sure it's somewhere in there though. The stores around here are usually pretty low tech on just about anything and forget a getting anything setup from these guys. The last bass I had setup, I had to ship it to a dealer out of state.
    With all of this talk of the Pedullas though, I'm very intrigued now. I always liked their looks, but never really would have given them a second thought since I've never played one or even seen one in person for that matter. So how do the necks feel on those creatures for those that have them?
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    What kind of strings did these mwaaaahhless basses have? Most flatwounds are the antimwaaaahh. Except TIs, and you won't find those on a bass at a retailer.
  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    You can probably get a used Roscoe in the 1200 to 1400 range. The fretless LG-3005 is a superb bass, it has mmmwwwwaaaahhhh up the ying-yang. Keith definitely got that one right! Mine has the diamondwood fingerboard, it's a darn near perfect playing surface. I'm using the D'Addario EXL-170S XL strings (XL for extra long, makes it sing even sweeter). Really, it's one of the most responsive basses I've ever owned, bar none. It's excellent dynamics. Great bass. Probably the nicest fretless five string I've ever played (and we're talking in the hundreds at least, you name it and I've owned at least one). Definitely check one out before you buy anything else!
  12. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    Yup Embelisher, they all had flats. Could've had something to do with it too. I've been reading about how rounds do a little more damage to the fretboards as opposed to flats, but do give more mwaahh. Sort of a little bit of trade off I guess, eh?
  13. walwear


    Feb 17, 2003

    I'm a big fan of Wal fretless basses (actually, I quite like the fretted ones also). I have a Wal fretless for sale and I DO NOT intend for this to be a "hey I've got one" post. I'll say just a few words about why I like them (I currently have four) and then let other Wal devotes pipe in with there experiences.

    Wal pickups have a very signature midrange sonic character to them that really works well with a fretless. The tone is very forward, articulate and strong. I had a Bart-equipped fretless from another very good builder and was soundly disappointed with the tone...way too scooped.

    Definitely investigate Wals before making any final decisions.

    Good luck!
  14. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    Zon. THey sound incredible. My fretted one practically has mwaah. Of course you'll probably have to go used.:D
  15. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Pedulla necks have a "V" profile that I find to be very unique and very comfy. The neck on my TB is like a knife blade. I love the feel of the thing.

    If you're looking to get the Mwah out of any old fretless, try boosting the heck out of the mids and cut the lows and highs. 800 - 900 Hz should do the trick nicely.

  16. zonwon


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pedulla Buzz definately. Epoxy board w/ nickel roundwounds.[​IMG]
  17. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Some basses emphasize/deemphasize mwah, but a few factors to help:

    1. Have a bridge pickup.
    2. Low setup: file the nut slots so that the strings are sitting pretty close to the board. Flatten the relief to just a few thousandths of an inch. Lower the action. And I'm not sure, but I think it helps to have the bridge pickup a little lower (farther from the strings) than normal (or is it the other way around?).
    3. EQ: the mwah seems to live in the 750-900 Hz range.
    4. finger style: 'fret' with the meaty part of your fingers (as opposed to the fingertips), roll it around a little (intonation be damned).

    Flats do tend to be more "thuddy." I don't like the little marks left by rounds on my board, use GHS brite flats and they do alright. I've also used Fender and Ernie Ball nickel flats, not as pronounced in the mwah dept, iirc the Fenders had a little more mwah.... I'm thinking out loud, but I'd guess that stainless steel flats might be worth trying; anybody tried 'em? Anbody make steel flats?

    BTW, back in college I got real into Jaco and had to get me a fretless. I was in love with a Pedulla, but could only afford a MIJ Fender Jazz.
  18. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    I really appreciate each and every input guys. Alot of good stuff to keep me thinking.

    Hey ZONWON...Is that the one you are trying to sell? That fretboard looks smoooooth.
  19. zonwon


    Jan 21, 2003
    Yup. Sorry about that. But is does MWAAAHH.
  20. After roughly a decade of some very serious searching for one bass that just "did it for me" a Wal bass landed in my lap. I have played and owned quite a variety of basses including a few fretless instruments. No other fretless bass really clicked personally despite my being totally comfortable with an upright. I was absolutely astonished that everything about the Wal 5-string fretless was perfect for me. I have totally forsaken all of my other basses in favour of this one fretless.

    Erik's description of the "signature" sound is what it's all about.