I'm Thinking of a Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Phoenix1, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Phoenix1


    Aug 9, 2011
    I'm a P bass player for 50+ years and am thinking of buying my first fretless. The Player fretless looks good, but I wonder if something more would make me happier. The Jaco model will obviously mot make me play like him, but are there advantages to spending more money? A few Ibbies look pretty good too>
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    There are a lot of great fretless basses out there, most not by companies such as 7ender. Don't be in a rush to make a hasty purchase. :cool:
    sonojono, Manticore and gebass6 like this.
  3. eKay


    May 8, 2014
    It’s hard to go wrong with Ibanez SR basses, best value for the money I say. You won’t match that Jaco sound, but they are generally quite versatile and easy to play.
    sonojono, jdh3000 and equill like this.
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    The best fretless bass I’ve played is a Roscoe. Zon makes a nice one as well.
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, nothing makes me sound like Jaco. But then again, my wife won't let me leave the house with a headband so that just means Jaco and I set out on different paths, all's well that ends well.
    Fretless will be a fun step for you. It's honestly the same, just play your fingers a little higher. You've been playing a long time so you'll probably adapt really quickly because you already know how to move flat or sharp. Usually the shops don't have any or many to try but do what you can to put your hands on a few. The Players are a good deal and the Ibanez have really comfy necks. Good luck. And yes, you can spend as much as you want but you don't need to.
    EddiePlaysBass and Lackey like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I recently got this. It's ridiculously awesome.
    20200513_134041.jpg 20200513_133051.jpg
  7. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    If you find a good deal on a fretless, do it by all means.

    But another option is, find a good used fretted bass, and bring it to a local luthier. Have them pull the frets, fill the gaps, smooth it all down, and readjust the neck and intonation.

    I have a few basses that were converted, and they play great. And easier to do than many think. The last one I had done is a Spector NS2a. It's got active EMG pups, and a EMG BTS preamp operating at 18 volts. The local guy pulled the frets, filled with binding material, and smoothed it all down and only charged me $65. Plays great. And put on a new set of Roto Nylon Wrapped strings that I furnished. Oh yeah, he also sanded to finish off the back of the neck, and I sealed it with a few coats of rubbed Danish Oil. She plays like butter.

    Here are pics of that Spector
  8. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Here is a former bass of mine, a Zon 5/1 that was an early custom version of this model that Joe made for me.

    Zon Sonus 5-1FL-1200_9585.jpg

    Zon Sonus 5-1FL-1200_9600.jpg

    This is my current fretless bass, a Martin Keith Elfin 5 that I bought from Martin at the 2010 NAMM Show. Wonderful bass!!! :bassist:


    If you have the June 2010 issue of Bass Player, there is a review of it in there.
  9. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Dean made a great basic fretless 4, active / battery, for chump change. love mine.
    if you can quiet the hum a Peavey T-20 is better than some Fenders
  10. WillyW

    WillyW l’art pour l’art, fonction de baise

    Dec 10, 2019
    If you are already a P bass player, the Tony Franklin P is worth more than what they charge for them.

  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    JJR58, TN WOODMAN and two fingers like this.
  12. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'd recommend getting something with two pickups, for tonal variety. I'd also recommend lines.

    Lot of amazing production basses out there. I'm a big fan of my Carvin fretlesses, the Ibanez Gary Willis is amazing if you like 5s with narrow spacing. I'm sure they have awesome 4 string SRs in fretless as well.
    PennyroyalWe and Dr. Cheese like this.
  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I recommend the Fender Player Series fretless Jazz Bass. They well made, get classic fretless tones, and are $699 street.
  14. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    I wanted to try a fretless a few years ago but really didn't have the budget for one. Spotted a Squier Vintage Modified fretless Precision for what amounted to chump change and ordered it sight unseen. I've had a blast with it. Build quality was very good, and it plays easily. And it always gets good reviews from fellow players when I use it, most commenting on how good it sounds. Just my 2 cents. YMMV.
  15. Scarey Larry

    Scarey Larry Supporting Member

    Buy used. Check it out. If it works upgrade, if not, little money lost.
    Matty Koff, Pazelaya93 and TN WOODMAN like this.
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It was a little more than I wanted to spend. But I'm so glad I did it. That bass is really something.
    JJR58 and TN WOODMAN like this.
  17. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Don’t overlook Carvin, either.

    Here’s my LB76f.

    btmpancake, JRA, TN WOODMAN and 2 others like this.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    TN WOODMAN and rtav like this.
  19. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    I had a no line fretless and I tended to drift off key. Your ear is supposed to correct this, mine was suspect. Gave it to a teenager and he loved it. Old ears will have a problem with drifting young ears will not have this problem.

    Something to think about. But, everyone should have at least one fretless in their past.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  20. rbeck47

    rbeck47 Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    SE Wisconsin
    I'm a fan of unlined ebony, with active/passive option. Here's my custom made fretless.

    Attached Files: