i have a question

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by I.'.I.'.Nakoa, Aug 12, 2001.

  1. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    ok, this is my first post on this side, i dont know too much about double basses, this may sound stupid to all of you, but, why isnt there fretted double basses? all the ones i have seen are fretless. sorry if this sounds real stupid, just curious:)
  2. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    It's not a stupid question. In fact, some of the ancient predecessors to today's double bass did have frets in the form of gut strings tied around the neck. You can imagine the intonation nightmare this posed.
    I could give many plausible reasons for the lack of frets, but the exact reasoning is a matter of historical fact, and I'm not good at that. There are several people here highly knowledgeable about DB evolution. Maybe David K will find a spare moment and jump in here.
  3. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    thanks for the quick reply! yeah , intonation does seem like it would pose a problem, arent doublebasses 42" scale length? (i think i read that in the bg forum).
  4. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Oak Park, IL
    The problem with frets is that fretted instruments are always out of tune with themselves. The current even-tempered tuning system is a set of compromises to make every key sound reasonably in tune. It's possible that if the viol family had managed to retain its frets until the development of even-tempered tuning that we might have fretted instruments throughout the orchestral strings, although it's difficult to see giving up the advantages of being able to finally adjust the intonation.

    I think the question really is less one of why orchestral strings don't have frets than one of why [bass] guitars still do.

  5. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    During the Baroque period of European history, fretted 6 or 7 string upright bass instruments known as bass viola da gamba were made.


    Some more info here:


    They are still made, but are expensive. Essentially they are meant to be bowed.