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Just bought my first fretless...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by YCBass, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Well, after much contemplation on what price point I should start at since I can't afford a matching Lull 5; I decided to go for a used good bass instead of a total beginner fretless eventhough I am just starting my fretless journey.

    These seem to be better regarded than the current version. So the plan is to keep this bass until I can order my dream Lull - whenever that is.

    My new Yamaha TRB5-IIF!


    She's coming from Quebec, Canada so I won't see her for a bit - and I hope customs/duty fees don't kill me.

    Review and live pics to follow.
  2. I hate to tell you this, but a friend had one of those- it had the WORST fretless tone I've ever heard. Not a hint of mwah, no matter the EQ setting. A new preamp could only help, IMO. I'd be very interested to know if this one sounds good(meaning my friend had a lemon)or if they're all like that.
  3. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    I haven't played this exact model, but I've played a Yamaha from this era (I think it was a BB3000 or something) and if the pickups and preamp are the same or anywhere close I am a happy man.

    All the "mwah" I need... And I don't know how this sounds but I didn't really get a fretless for the mwah, so to speak.

    We'll see.
  4. I've played a few BBs & liked them; owned a TRB-5II & liked it, but the aforementioned fretless was just awful. I truly hope yours is way better. :)
  5. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Cool, thanks Bro... I hope that enough of what you liked about the TRB5-II transfers over the my fretless version.
  6. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Perfect! I guess I need to check one out.
  7. You need to head over to the 'What is 'mwah'' thread. Bring mud. ;)
  8. "mwah" is in the setup, the strings and your fingers; only if the bass has got a complete useless (uneven) fingerboard you'll have a problem!
  9. Until you have played the bass in question, you really don't know. The fingerboard, strings & setup were fine(my fingers are certainly questionable); the bass simply would not do it(not for me, anyway). I've owned a Stingray 5, Rebop 5, Thumb 5, Stambaugh 4, 6 & 7, a Washburn AB-20 & a Hohner Steinberger copy(all fretless). The Warwick sucked, the Hohner has uncontrollable & obnoxious mwah; the rest varied between good & excellent. Yes, the technique is 90% of it but there are basses that almost will not do it. This one wouldn't(again- for me). There's a very good chance you are a much better player than I but I'd bet a set of strings(good ones;))you couldn't make this one sound decent. Also again- I hope it was a fluke...
  10. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Actually you're incorrect. I know exactly what it is, and I don't like it.
  11. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    For me, the decision to get a fretless was made when I started to not try to make it mwah... When I pick up fretless' at stores I would always try to make it sing and be all melodic with everything. It's when I started to play it like I would a fretted (percussive, etc.) that it made sense. I started hearing things that I can personally use in my music - the inherent qualities will come out no matter what but I just play it like I do - hopefully all in tune, haha.

    I can't wait!
  12. hockey_head


    Feb 25, 2008
    just have fun and try to get your notes kinda right and enjoy the character your bass gives you.
  13. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    My only fretless is a Tacoma Thunderchief that I don't play very often. One thing that I have learned from listening to recordings I have made is that for me, anyway, more than three beers and playing fretless do not mix.
  14. You know, if your happy with the bass that's all that counts. My $.02, I'm not fond of Yamaha basses, particularly their fretless models. To me, I don't like the feel of the necks, plus I don't care for the body shapes. As far as "mwah factor" goes, that's in the bass's responce to the way you play and also the pups and strings. ;)
  15. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    enjoy it nice axxxx
  16. Gosh, really? You're subtle...

    Back on(current/derailed-from-OP)topic- IME, some basses have a greater propensity for the 'm-word', some less & in a rare occasion, very little. I think it has it's place. Not in your musuc? Cool. I'll agree it is often overdone.
  17. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Well, no sooner than 4 weeks after it was shipped I finally have the bass - pretty much gave up on ever getting it, the seller filed an insurance claim this week then voila... Not sure if either Canada Post or USPS dropped the ball but anyway it's here!

    First impressions...

    Build Quality:
    Awesome bass! I've played the current MIK TRB's and this one is a step up, I guess there is really something to be said about MIJ's. The instrument feels solid and well built, not sure what year mine is but it is in great condition... Only 1 major ding on the headstock but other than that just some scratches on the clear coat when put under a light. So far, I am really impressed by the quality of the bass.

    Sound and Playability:
    Awesome as well. It's my first fretless so needless to say I am no expert. Contrary to one of the posts in this thread, this things got plenty of mwah for my taste. The EQ is very subtle, not quite as modern sounding as I was expecting which is a nice surprise as my dream fretless (when the day comes) will be passive. I probably won't like this tone on a fretted but I have a different criteria for fretless, so it works out. Even after close to a month of sitting in shipping the bass tuned right up and the set up was perfect for me... Not sure what strings are on there but they're semi-worn rounds and I dig 'em... Though DR Sunbeams would be the likely replacement. I am not nearly as good as others here in describing tone, so I won't even really try... But it works for what I plan on doing with it... Very subdued active sound, nice and round when muted and the notes are articulate.

    Nothing too major just the fretlines and side dots and center detent on the knobs... The fretlines are very thin & light that they almost blend into the board, you have to look at the bass straight on to see them, I can't see them very well from playing position. Then the side dots are placed in between the fretlines like on fretted basses... Since I can barely see the fretlines I am forced to estimate how far in front of the side dot the proper note will be, I guess it's all part of the fretless journey. I would've appreciated the dots to be right on the fretline since it's so thin. So this thing almost feels like an unlined board but with the dots in the wrong spot... It'll be an unnecessarily hard adjustment - one or the other please! The center detent position on the knobs are a little soft, they don't quite lock on to position like most... That's really it, nothing to stress over now or in the long run.

    Lastly, I got really nervous when I picked it up at the apartment manager's office today - I expected it to be in a box, but NOOOOO... The seller being an eBay store who sells everything and anything and not a music store just taped the hardshell case around the latches, typed my info on a piece of paper and taped that on too and off she went. It came in a Fender Tolex case that from the pictures wasn't in good shape so it's even worse now... Fortunately I couldn't care less about the case as I use a gig bag 100% of the time. It's beat up but it did the job cause the bass is near mint.

    Thanks for reading.

    Pics in the next post.
  18. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Here are the obligatory pics...

    100_0017. 100_0020.

    See what I mean about the thin/light fretlines? It's a cool look but it's harder to adjust to with the side dots as previously described.
  19. peakdesign


    Aug 25, 2008
    "See what I mean about the thin/light fretlines?"

    Love it! Count you blessings, those barely visible lines are SO COOL. Try oiling the neck, a little steel wool, and maybe they will come up just enough so you can see them with the right light, but not so much as to spoil the look!

    If you do need a little more MWAH, try Tung oil, it's a polymerizing finish that's like halfway to an epoxy, then use a lower tension flatwound set, and lower the action.

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