1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Lined Fretless??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bonzai, Dec 6, 2002.

  1. Bonzai


    Dec 6, 2002
    What are everyones thoughts on lined fretless basses? With the lines did it make it easier for you to play fretless or did it hinder your playing? I know that some people do not like lines on their basses at all and some others do. I'm just wondering if it makes the transition to fretless easier and if it helps your intonation any. Thanks for all the replys.
  2. xianbei


    Dec 4, 2002
    Lines are just fine. While they don't necessarily make playing the bass easier, they give an irreplaceable reference for playing in tune. If you're just making the switch, it might be worth it to get the lines for a smooth transition to fretless.
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
  4. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    I use a lined fretless six and it does help me play (closer) to in tune. I switch back and forth between fretted, fretless and EUB in my current gig, so for me lines are a very helpful reference point. I'm sure there are purists out there who will frown on the use of lines, but for me it's helpful. If I got to the point where I decided I would play fretless bass exlcusively, I might consider an unlined board. But one bass is way too much commitment for me. ;)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I could go either way. A lined fretless will allow you to check your position much easier. Use the lines as a reference. I feel that a plain fingerboard looks a little nicer. It also forces you to develope your ear. The ultimate for me would be a plain fingerboard with a lined side.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I think lines are ugly.

    My first fretless was an unlined 35" scale bass and I don't think I had too much trouble adjusting. I don't like lines but if I found a bass with lines that had the right "feel" I wouldn't hold back from buying it.
  7. Here's my take:

    I use lined EBG (Zon Sonus Special 5 fretless, Guitar Factory Custom 6) and an EUB with position dots at every position (NS Design).

    When I need 'em - i.e. bad monitor/stage volume situation, having to grab that Eb on the G string at the 20th postion to start a tune (with no pitch reference until the tune starts :eek: ) - they're there. When I don't need 'em, I can ignore 'em.

    Anyone that gives a lined fretless player/owner grief about the lines can chew on this:

    Jaco had lines.


    Of course, if you're comfortable with unlined, or prefer it for any reason, then by all means be happy with what you have. There is no right or wrong here.

    Of course, the lines on my EBG's are made of woods that are not overly contrasting to the fingerboards themselves. From about 15-20' away, they're essentially invisible. Now, if only I could find a way to get rid of the abalone dots on my 6, I'd be a happy camper! :p
  8. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    I've never played with lines and have never found it an obstacle. There's a brief learning curve, but I transitioned quickly.

    I guess you have to ask yourself, "how are my ears?" Can you tell when your bass is out of tune? Can you sing in tune? Can you hear it when others play/sing out of tune? If not, lines is definitely the way to go.
  9. My first experience with a fretless is my RBX 260F. I don't know how I would have switch to fretless with an unlined one, but all I can say is that the lines made it very easy.
    A month and a half a go I played on a Thumb 6 fretless, unlined, and I had no big problem ... but the Warwicks have dots on the fretboard side (3-5-7-9-12-15-17 - ...?), so I still had some reference.

    I've seen that Uman Base basses have an unlined fretboard with line on its side, and I really like it too. But I think lines are very useful to start with fretless, and it's a great help when you have to switch between various positions on the neck and play chords.

    And when you don't need lines anymore, forget them!

    My next fretless (should receive it in 2-3 months). I know, I have posted more than necessary ... but the more I see it, the more I love it!

  10. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Yeah, most if not all manufacturers put dots on the side of the neck. For me, that's all you need. I use them as a reference too. To me, lines are clutter.
  11. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I think the lines help, especially on your opening note. I also think unlined looks better and there have been numerous occasions where I've used my lined 5 and many, including other musicians, had no idea that I was playing a fretless. I do like the lines only on the top edge (along the B or E string) as this gives me the support I need and keeps the fingerboard looking clean.
  12. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    Exactly. When you need them, you'll be glad they're there.

    Also, if you don't like the look of lines, have koa lines put in rather than the maple that most have. They're darker and harder to see from a distance, but from a playing positon they're pretty visible.
  13. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I have one fretless, lined, and have ordered a second that will be unlined. I do think lines help, but at the same time I feel like I'm too tempted to keep looking at the fretboard. It will be interesting to see if I can rely more on my ears and hands. The new bass will have side dots on the neck so there will be some reference. At least when standing I don't think I see the front of the fingerboard all that well anyway, so the side dots should be enough for reference. Unlined admittedly looks cooler, but that was not the reason I wanted it, it's more a mental thing, committing to going all out so to speak. I may well be disappointed with my playing though... :)
  14. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    To me it doesn't really matter. I have tried both and haven't found a big difference. If I get a fretless Dingwall I will definitely get lines. I wouldn't want to learn fretless on an unlined Novax fingerboard.

  15. Si-bob


    Jun 30, 2001
    Hemel Hempstead, UK
    Focusrite / Novation
    IMO the only disadvantage to having lines on your fretless is a dent in your ego :)
    I have an unlined fretless (de-fretted, so the side dots are in between the frets) and i have problems wen going up high, so in jan i'm gonna order a lined fretless 5.

  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I have played in situations several times where I could not hear myself very well. Lines were a big help.

    I prefer darker lines, light enough where I can see them, but almost invisible from a few feet away.

  17. To me the lines are there to help, gets me real close.
    Like others I've been in a few situations where I couldn't hear myself very well, and the fretlines get me close.
    As Geoff mentioned no way would I try an unlined Novax board, and I didn't
  18. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    i bought my first fretless on ebay a few days ago.. it's a lined yamaha 4 string...

    my only concern is that the lines would act as a crutch, so i'm looking instead of hearing....

    has anybody else had experience with this?
  19. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Just remember, when you're playing out live (before thousands of people) and the sound man has given you an awful monitor mix, your reputation is on the LINE!:p
  20. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Disclaimor: I've never owned a lined fretless. I've only played them in stores. My fretless is 3 years old and I feel that I'm finally getting a bit competent with my intonation. (people I play with would disagree with that but I'm a perfectionist sometimes)

    I use both my eyes and my ears, and I find that the white side dots on my Dean are just as much of a crutch as lines ever would be. As a matter of fact, unless the lines are really friggin bright you'll see the dots a lot more than the lines anyway unless you play Jeff Healey style.

    And again, unlined is much more visually appealing.

    P.S. Josh I changed my description just for this post.

Share This Page