Its a big decision, moving on to fretless or not?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nunk6, Jan 13, 2001.

  1. nunk6


    Jul 29, 2000
    i decided today that i want to move on to a fretless; as i havent been playing fretted for too long i think ill adapt pretty well;
    but it could be that im dead wrong and ill get the bass(carvin kit) and ill have to spend years to learn how to play the instrument to a usable level...
    any advice??
    i would be going without fretlines
    im going to lose both of my fretted basses in the process of getting the new one so it could be a big mistake
  2. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    I don't think it'd be a big mistake. Like you said, you haven't been
    playin' fretted that long. Have you had any training on violin or cello?
    That would probably help too. Non-fretline boards are cool - I love my old Ripper.
    Can you get a Carvin neck with side dots at least? That would help ease the transition
    until you get that "finger spacing" thing down. Later on, once you're an expert
    luthier from puttin' together your own bass :), you could swap-out the side-dotted
    neck for a totally "nude" one.
    I played fretted for years and just recently got into fretless. Those lines were
    a lifesaver. I did have to get used to "fretting" on top of the line.
    I betcha' there are some good books on developing intonation as well as some
    threads here and in the DB forums. In this month's issue of Bass Player (the Geddy cover),
    Michael Manring has started a series on fretless intonation.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Big mistake. You need a fretted bass, so getting rid of two of them to get a fretless is not a good idea. Now, if it will be a second bass (not your main axe), go for it. Fretless is a lot of fun, and open new pathways of creativity. Fretless basses are not widely used in commercial music ::: donning Tolex suit :::. Yes, they are used occasionally (we do some Shania and Bonnie Raitt that have fretless in them), and more often on solo ventures, but they just aren't that great as a main axe.

    Now Gard, leave me alone. Don't hurt me. Of course, YMMV, IMHO, and USMC.
  4. To each his own. If you really are sure about a full on commitment to fretless, then good luck and more power to you. Be prepared for a LOT of practice!

    But, IMO, I agree completely with Munji. They are great to have around, but a fretted is a necessity (donning MY tolex suit, too). Hell, even Jaco says he played fretteds all the time EXCEPT for gigs and most recordings in his video. I love my fretless, but it's a specialty bass. I used it as the featured instrument, in fact, on my song "Walking With the Angels" ( ), but my other stuff and the stuff on deck is for my fretted basses.

    Having said that, and again that was IMO, if you are really intent on carving out a musical personality using fretless as your voice, it could be great...but again, LOTS of work involved, there. Certainly more than if you were doing it fretted, or at LEAST with some markers to help you along until your ear can tell an A from a slightly A#, etc.
  5. Oh, and before I get 'corrected' about that Jaco reference I made, he said that in the context of not wanting to play his fretless all the time because of his strings chewing up the fretboard, and he practiced on fretted because HE said it's harder to play, (so the better to learn on).....okey day :)
  6. Hey, don't own a fretless myself but I have played with a Warwick Fretless before and it is really awesome. The dots are right in the place of were the notes are. I really like the feel of the low action. Even though there is a low action there is more than enough room to slap and pop and funk it(if your into that of course).

    Well good luck, thats my two cents.
  7. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    I think you guys should try a nomex suit instead of a tolex suit, nomex is a little more flexible. :D

    Why not pick up a less expensive fretless to see how you like it and hold on to your fretted basses? You're very young, lots of bass buying years ahead of you.
  8. nunk6


    Jul 29, 2000
    thanks for the responses
    im set on going fretless, that is where i feel i want to take my playing i just think the fretted is too limited

    but im sure ill be back with a post crying about how i got rid of the fretted and now i cant play worth anything on the new fretless
    itll be quite an adventure
    maybe someone has some advice that will help me out on the fretless;
    like some problems youve run into bad habits etc. or just small things i should know
  9. OK, Mike, you got me. ;)

    I didn't mean to come across as inflexible, just a friendly admonishment to keep your options open.

    However, now that you seem to have made your decision, I have to say I really admire you...really, good luck and I hope you make The Connection.

    As for advice, good, clean technique is King with fretless. If you don't already have a teacher, I would strongly recommend getting some real human help; at least for starting out. There's lots of good books and videos, but they are no substitute for having someone there who can correct your technique mistakes, point out and assist you with your weaknesses and answer your questions by telling and showing you.
  10. Sorry, dude, but I'm with Munji and Slap (sounds like a comedy routine) on this one. I think it's a big mistake not to hold on to one fretted bass. I play fretted and fretless, plus double bass, and I would never not have a fretted. Sure you can pick up a fretless and widdle away on it , and it sounds great. Then ya get to a band rehearsal, and whoa! Why are all my band mates glaring at me?
    How about this idea. Instead of getting a Carvin kit, why not defret one of your present basses? There's another thread going currently which deals with this. I'm not telling ya what to do, just my opinion. I've been a pro player for many years, and I would'nt entertain the idea of only having a fretless. One reason I hear people say they want to play a fretless is so they can develop an original voice. This is crap. Anyone who plays a fretless will tell you, you'll sound like Jaco, or you'll sound like Pino Palladino. That's it- period. All the "original voices" on bass at the moment are fretted. Jeff Berlin, Anthony Jackson, Paul Jackson, Stanley Clarke, Stu Hamm etc. ....whoops, big mistake, I'm wrong there. Mick Karn, Percy Jones and Michael Manring would qualify. Hmmmm....guess I dont know what the f*** I'm talking about!
  11. LMAO! :D :D :D

    Heheh, I sound like Pino! The sound, anyway!
  12. i wanted the fretless sound just like you but couldnt sell or defret my spector so i bought this old jazz copy for $20 and defretted it and it sounds awesome!! you should certainly think bout defretting before you sell your basses
  13. michael


    Mar 10, 2000
    Josh, it's the boy! He's got the fever! He's all crazy talkin' about gettin' rid of his basses and goin' fretless! Come quick Josh, he's burnin' up!
  14. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Ponder, there are bunch of cheap fretlesses around,
    so why not to get one of 'em first? For example, Yamaha BBN4F (which I own :D ) can be bought for 300 bucks new.