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Is transitioning from fretted to a fretless hard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by aasti3000, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    I've been playing for 7 months and really LOVE playing bass. But I'm starting to get attracted to the fretless SOUND but for some reason the fretless intimidates me. I think I'm afraid I'll be playing wrong notes since their are no frets. I tested a fretless with lines on it and I sounded a complete mess.

    Is it a whole new ball game learning fretless or do I need to get the fretted bass down to a science before considering a fretless?
  2. mntngrown


    Aug 18, 2007
    Santa Cruz Ca
    A lot of people learn on fretless. AKA standup. Bob Babbit maybe. Jamerson too? If you want to go there start sooner than later. Frets allow you to be lazy. A lined fretless gives you training wheels, and early confidence.
  3. bass5str


    Jun 27, 2010
    hi aasti3000,

    if i had to do it over again i would jump in the fretless deep end. far too many years ago when i started playing i was too intimidated to give it a shot even tho i wanted to :atoz:

    now i am predominantly a fretless player. i would not say it is a new game. just a different one with less rules and more freedom!

    if you choose to give it a shot i would suggest not getting one with fretlines. your ear and muscle memory will kick in soon enough.
  4. RxFunk


    Dec 2, 2012
    Sometimes the lines on a lined fretless are a little bit off, which may be why you sounded "messy". I agree with the previous post that a lines on a fretless are like training wheels ,I used to play cello and we always put little stickers on our fingerboards when we first started, so you could always do that until you get the feel down for where the notes are on the board.
  5. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger Commercial User

    Sep 22, 2005
    Redlands, CA
    The Overlord of Nordstrand Pickups
    I tend to approach fretless basses quite differently than fretted.

    There is a lot of freedom with fretless. Horrible, horrible freedom!
  6. I started with the ones with fretlines. Now I prefer unlined fretless basses.
  7. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    That explains it.

    Sounds like you experience people are saying start with the lined fretless and then ditch it for an unlined after I'm comfortable with it?
  8. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    That sounds like a good plan. I started off with a lined fretless, and then removed the lined and replaced them with walnut after one gig so I didn't have to see them. The bass was one I owned before, and sold to a friend who defretted it, then later bought a fretless Stingray, so he convinced me to buy my old bass back. I had about 15 years of bass playing experience at that point, and it was a bass I played a lot when I owned it, so I felt very comfortable doing it that way. That's also about the time I got a five string; I guess I was feeling experimental back then. Anyway, I've had an unlined fretless ever since.
  9. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I think it depends on your ear. If you play by ear then you really don't need lines IMO. You will just develop your By ear skills more. If you need to read to learn songs then I would go for lines.
  10. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    I've been playing by ear along to songs but I do go to a website to practice scales to improve my fingering technique. So do you prefer an unlined fretless?
  11. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Nope, start with an unlined, they do have position dots on the side of the neck for all the reference you will ever really need.
  12. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    Yes, I'm currently looking for an unlined Fretless and have been searching for "The One" since I sold my Carvin Fretless. I don't do any sliding or anything. I just play all the same music I play on my fretted basses and try to nail all the notes. To me it's just like playing fretted but never looking at the fret board. It's hard but there's a Big Payoff IMO:) I plan on using fretless exclusively with my Blues Band once I get good enough on it.
  13. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    Good tip!:)

    ROOTSnFIFTHS Low-end Lover since '78!

    Oct 25, 2012
    NJ to Sin City
    Not sure if anyone mentioned but when you play a note on a fretless, you have to place your finger actually on the line, not in between them. Of course, like someone did say, some basses are a little off and placing your finger on the line will sound out of tune in a sense.
  15. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    i dont own a fretless (yet) but have messed around with them at GC. the first few times i just did a bunch of slides up and down the neck because it sounded cool. the last few times i actually sat down and actually played. it threw me off a little but i quickly got used to it. i have been playing for long enough that my ears are pretty good at telling if something is out of tune. i just ignored the fretlines and let my hands and ears be my guide. and i also agree about the comment on the freedom of it. i'd put it like this, fretted bass is like walking down the stairs, fretless bass is like sliding down the banister.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Fretless wasn't hard for me, but playing fretless in tune was. Still, you can do anything you want if you put in the effort, and if you can play fretted well, you can figure out how to play fretless well.
  17. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Not once you get the positioning down and you put your ear into it. It becomes intuitive.
  18. Emilym80


    Sep 15, 2011
    If you want to get a fretless, practice fretting directly on top of the frets of a fretted bass as opposed to between them. Obviously that's not how you're mean to play a fretted bass, but it makes the transition to fretless much easier.
  19. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    This. On a fretted bass, the player fingers between the frets, so that the string "ends" on the fret. With a lined fretless, if the player uses the lines as a reference, (s)he will be a bit flat. (S)he needs to play on the line to be in tune. I'll admit that I'm not totally a "by ear" player. I eye cheat.

    My first fretless was a Squier Vintage Modified. Great value in a bass guitar, but the lines bent my mind too much. That went away when put an unlined maple neck on my P/J.

    Besides. Unlined looks so cool! :bassist:
  20. You don't have to look at the lines, far better to listen.

    Agreed, unlined do look cool.