Is the Tony Franklin Fretless really worth $2000+?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Thom Fioriglio, Dec 4, 2022.

  1. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Hi all,

    I've been obsessing about a Lake Placid Blue Tony Franklin fretless bass but man, I don't know if I want to spend that kind of money. New they are now over $2,000 and used going for around $1800. I've read the comments and many say it's the best bass Fender makes and is Custom shop quality.

    The thing is, I already own a Lakland 44-64 P/J fretless with a lined ebony board and super slim neck. The interest in the TF is the clean unlined fingerboard. I know it has a Hipshot D-tuner, which I can take or leave. Has anyone owned both? If so, how do they compare?

    Unfortunately, there are no local stores that carry a TF Fretless to try.

  2. You live on Long Island. PM me. I'll let you play mine.
    SubSpec, mngnt, kobass and 44 others like this.
  3. Is the Tony Franklin Fretless really worth $2000+?

    From what I’ve read on TB, it is…
  4. So you see my reply
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  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i've read the same, and i believe it! too many great/trusted players have endorsed that specific ax as 'stellar'. that said, i'm no longer willing to pay that much for an EB: those days are over for me.

    $2K+ seems like a lot of money just to get an unlined fingerboard, but getting the rest of the TF instrument with it has to have some advantages. ;)

    i voted "no, not for me!" but it's your money, thom, and snagging "fender's best bass" can't be all bad, right? take @5andFretless up on his offer --- and good luck! :thumbsup:
    joe vegas, Davidus1, kesslari and 2 others like this.
  6. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Well, plus there's the switching feature... my dad has the sunburst version and it's a great bass. I like the LPB look even better. I would take @5andFretless up on his offer and try his out, but my response would be YES.
  7. David McIntire

    David McIntire

    Apr 5, 2020
    No way any Fender bass guitar is worth 2 grand. Tony Franklin is my first, biggest hero. I've listened to, and learned, every note he's played since I first saw the video for the Firm's Radioactive in the 80s. I've wanted one of his signature basses since it's release, and when the LPB one showed up? I've lusted after it incessantly...

    I have a 2010 Fender American Deluxe Jazz 5. I bought it as a pre release from Fender's factory direct as I have a friend who was head of their Marketing and Sales at that time. I got it for 800 dollars. It was assembled in their custom shop, and was over built, as it was to be a factory rep's copy to show retailers and sell the new Deluxe line. The 2010 thru 2011 versions of this bass are the best Fenders Fender ever made. For many reasons. But I wouldn't pay 2 grand for one. I wouldn't pay 2 grand for a 70s P or J, either. Terribly built basses that history is far too kind toward.

    The Tony Franklin is a great bass. But it's a passive, modified P bass. With a name attached. And tho I lusted after one when I could get em for a grand or 1200? I believe 2000 is just too much for what it is. I have a fretless G&L M2500 fretless that sounds as identical to a TF as I've been able to achieve, but I got the bass for 1000. If I were the OP, I'd keep the Lakland. Maybe call them if an unlined board is that important, have them make a neck for it, and call it a day. In the end, Tony Franklin played a Stingray fretless, and a straight P fretless when I learned of him and became a fan. He's a super guy, a great teacher and inspiration, and I don't think it was his intent to create a bass that was unaffordable to a majority of his fans. That's the Fender machine. I won't support Fender and it's pricing nowadays, either. But that's just one fan's opinion. They are great basses. 2000 great? Maybe. But not to me.
    Corevalay, Blueinred, Crispus and 5 others like this.
  8. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    @5andFretless has made a a very generous offer. Take you Lakland with you and compare them back to back. Only you know if it is worth it or not to you. Never let anyone else tell you how to spend your money. You earned it, and the choice is yours. If you decide that you want , you could possibly buy a used one and maybe sell your Lkaland if you dont find it necessary to own both. IF you are mainly a fretless player, you might actually enjoy having the option and backup.

    I think they are worth the money. They sing like no other Fender Fretless thatI have ever heard. ( Other than the ones Jaco himself played.)

    Keep us posted on what you decide.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2022
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  9. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass. Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Prices are up no getting away from it, unfortunately this includes both new and used gear. Imho I think the Tony Franklin is well worth the 2k, the only reason I don't have one is I own two 70s fretless Precisions.
  10. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Fender doing Fender signature model stuff.
    Lowendchamp likes this.
  11. porterbass

    porterbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2013
    I have one in black, (although I wanted the LPB color which is killer). The TF fretless is an awesome bass in build quality, tone, and especially playability. Love the unlined ebony board. I think the price is fair as compared to other Fender basses like the AVRI series and Fender CS (I have multiple AVRI and CS basses to compare to). But you have a great opportunity to judge for yourself with the kind offer from your Long Island neighbor. Good luck!
  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Yes, it is worth $2,000 given inflation. The build quality is top notch. The sound is excellent.

    Ghastly, mngnt, Treblefree and 5 others like this.
  13. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Only reason I don't have one is they're sold out til 2023 up here
    So I have to make do with my defretted 64 P and J-modded 72 P
    Ghastly likes this.
  14. sleddogn


    Sep 8, 2013
    Love My Dogs
    I first wanted one of these when they were 1499,:woot: wish i had jumped then....:hyper:
  15. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Yeah, I am curious how I will like the pickup selector switch. I got used to the volume blend on my Lakland and I also have a J bass. I'll see if I think it is better, same or a negative.
    Ghastly likes this.
  16. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks for the reply. I'll be heading over to 5ForFretless in a little bit to compare. I used to play an unlined fretless years ago, so looking forward to give it another go.
    musicman556 and BassCodger like this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Kind of a curious thread. So here’s my take.

    The TF fretless P is the same price as a standard MiA Precision.

    But for FREE you get:
    Ebony fingerboard instead of pao ferro,
    Upgraded pickups and electronics,
    Hipshot D drop,
    Painted headstock

    So on its face you get $4-450 worth of FREE upgrades.

    Now consider basic economics. Supply and demand suggests that YOU want one but your store doesn’t have one.

    Maybe that says demand exceeds supply? Or maybe it suggests demand is very low. I think both are true. Fender sells 1 bass for every 90 guitars most years and 1 fretless for every 200+ basses. So where would you invest production capital if it were your job?

    The way I see it, Fender could increase that bass price by $1,000 and sell the exact same amount.

    Seriously. Where can you get an off the shelf fretless with ebony made in US for under $3,000 without waiting for a velocity-model semi custom such as Kiesel, for example?

    If you buy a bass of this spec made in USA for under $2,500 you stole it.
  18. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks for the great advice. I have to say, what a great community here on TalkBass and I am very appreciative of my Long Island neighbor's offer to come try it out. He's only 20 minutes from me. I was thinking of bringing my Lakland with me. I think that's a good idea. And also give him a chance to try it and get his opinion. I may be able to get a used one for a decent price.
    kobass, Ghastly, shojii and 3 others like this.
  19. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Such a generous offer! I am very appreciative. Such a great community here on TalkBass.
  20. InstantEctobass


    Feb 18, 2018
    Super cool to offer that!!
    Ghastly, shojii, roccobass and 5 others like this.