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Is Fretless for me? Please help...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BurndtLandon, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. BurndtLandon


    Oct 10, 2002
    My friend is selling a Fender standard Jazz bass, but its fretless. I've been playing guitar for about a year, and this will be my first bass if I get it. I was wondering if getting a fretless bass will be too hard to learn on though. I'm use to the frets on my guitar, so I don't know how well I'd adjust to no frets. But maybe fretless wont be a problem. I'd get a really good deal on the bass if I get it, so I was wondering if I should get it even though its fretless. Any opinions will be appreciated. Thanks :).
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    If you feel it's a good deal, I'd say go for it!! With a little care and effort, you can make a go of it. Practice slowly and by yourself for a bit, paying close attention to your intonation. Use harmonics and open strings for pitch reference while fingering. Maybe record some guitar to play along with. Plenty of good tips in the 'Technique' forum...

    Good luck and Welcome to TalkBass!!

  3. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Tough call. It's not impossible to start out on a fretless, but expect to have a steep learning curve in the beginning. It could probably take YEARS before you can play the thing in tune most of the time (worth mentioning is that nobody can play it perfectly in tune ALL of the time). But as with many other things: the more difficult it is, the more rewarding it is too. You will feel frustration over poor intonation a number of times, but you'll get it eventually and then you won't regret a thing... trust me. Fretless is a lot of fun, and they carry a tone you simply won't get on a fretted instrument.

    I do recommend getting a lined fretless, especially if you're new to bass. Unlined may look cooler, but if you don't have any muscle memory in your left hand from a 34" scale neck, you won't have a clue where to place your fingers. Lines are a helpful guide, but remember that they don't tell the whole truth (e.g. on 3rd "fret", ON the line is in tune, but on the 15th "fret", slightly BEHIND the line is in tune).

    How much is he/she selling it for?
  4. Never play on the line, but BEHIND the line. The "vibrating" length of the string should start at the bridge and end ON the line. I you have big fingers, placing them ON the line wouldl reduce the vibrating length of about 3-5 millimeters. This is not so important in the first "frets", but at the 15th it makes a big difference!
  5. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    If it's a really good deal, and you find that you have trouble learning on a fretless, you can easily get a fretted neck and swap. I'd say go for it...you can't really lose.
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Going from guitar to fretless bass? LMHO!!!

    I remember a friend of mine, really good guitarist, who wanted to stand in for me on one song. He borrowed my fretless - only once :-D

    OK, if the deal is good, and you have the patience, you'll manage and you'll learn a lot! Do it!

    If your patience is not so good, and perhaps that goes for your ear as well...not too good an idea.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    My brother is a fantastic guitar player who also plays bass (very well and with the proper respect for the different instrument). He defretted his first bass shortly after buying it and really liked it. He did not have a big problem with intonation.

    Fretless bass is a lot of fun. Every bass player should play fretless. :)
  8. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Do you want a fretless? Or, are you just tempted by the "good deal". Don't buy something you don't want just because it's tempting because of the price.
    If you, at least, would like to try fretless, this is probably a good opportunity. You can get a "good deal" on a fretless bass, and if it's not for you, you can probably re-sell the bass without taking a loss.
  9. oysterman.... quoted:

    (worth mentioning is that nobody can play it perfectly in tune ALL of the time).

    if you hear pino palladino, you will rethink that theory.

  10. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    While fretless bass is certainly more difficult to play than fretted I don't think a fretless electric bass is quite as difficult to play as many people here would lead you to believe. Just practice slowly and pay attention to what you're doing and you should be able to get it with time if you practice a lot. If it's a good deal I say go for it. Fender jazz basses have a great resale price so if you're not satisfied with it chances are you can get your money back on ebay or elsewhere and get a fretted bass.
  11. pmkelly

    pmkelly Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO

    I have had two different fretless basses, and really didn't get into either of them. In fact, they are both for sale now... I like the sound and feel of fretted basses. I noticed the smiley, but I still gotta disagree with your statement... IMHO! :)

  12. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I hear ya, but what I mean is that every bass player should at least try fretless some time. It really expands the bass vocabulary in ways that you wouldn't have thought about before. Playing fretless has definitely helped my fretted playing. :)
  13. pmkelly

    pmkelly Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    agreed, playing a fretless did improve my fretted playing... I guess the fretless sound is just not my cup o' tea! For me, a fretless is something of a novelty. I guess everyone just needs to spend some time with a fretless and see what they think!

  14. BurndtLandon


    Oct 10, 2002
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I will go ahead and get it, and if turns out to be too hard I'll either get a freted neck or resell it. Its brand new and comes with a deluxe hardshell fender case so the deal is just awesome. Thanks again.
  15. How would one go about defretting a bass? Do tell, lol im intrigued.. and is it possible to undo this horrific act? :confused:

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