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Lined or Unlined Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kosko, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Kosko


    Dec 12, 2005
    So I'm thinking about getting one of my basses defretted. Its an upgraded P Bass Special Squier. Badass Bridge II and EMGs, it really sounds quite nice. I was thinking defretting it would give me a real reason to bring it back into rotation and that'd it be fun to have a fretless. Now the question is contrasting or matching filler for the fret lines. I don't actually look at the fret lines while playing, rather the dots on the side. The person doing this was recommended to me by a respected violin luthier, he was too busy to do the work himself. So it should be dead spot free and a really cool bass if all works out. The defretting, set-up and some electronic work should run about $200 he said. So what do you all think?
  2. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    sounds like fun.
    Personally I'd go with really subtle fretlines. Like if it's maple go with a different shade of maple (lots of options there). If it's rosewood consider a brownish ebony. If ebony, consider rosewood.
    I hate glaringly obvious fretlines personally (like my fretless J in my sig.), but subtle understated fretlines can look really nice.
  3. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I think for $200 you can sell that bass after replacing the upgraded parts with the originals and get something that was designed to be a fretless in the first place from Rondo Music, put your badass and EMGs in that, and you'll end up with a much better fretless bass experience.

    Defretting isn't going to eliminate the dots on the front of the neck, which will look ugly and awful on an otherwise fretless neck. On an unlined fretless the side dots are at the note locations. If you have your bass defretted with like-colored filler (a terrible idea), the dots will be in the wrong location and you'll end up with a bass that's very difficult to play, impossible to sell, and will make it more difficult for you to play another fretless in the future.
  4. Kosko


    Dec 12, 2005
    Didn't consider that, or really even know about that (the position of the dots). I would like to keep the Squier regardless actually (first bass), so reselling it isn't really a concern. But thank for the insight.
  5. Philbiker raises an interesting and true point. Face dots on a fretless... EWWWWW....

    Here's my suggestion to you. Skip the Rondo venture, you've got a perfectly good bass, with a few memories, why get rid of it and them? Instead, head on over to www.warmoth.com and order yourself a fretless neck.

    For ~$167 you have yourself a maple (or rosewood) on maple fretless neck. Say you want to get all bad ass and get an ebony board... Well that's only going to be ~$187. See the difference? You can save the money, and make your bass look (possibly play) better by purchasing an intentionaly fretless neck, then having yours defretted.

    Honestly, that's the route I'd go.

    PS. Warmoth offers a sweet veneer insert for fretlines option!

    Fretless Page Link
    Necks Page Link
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I had the frets pulled on my Ripper years ago. The guy did a great job, but I went with dark lines filling in the fret grooves... and of course the dots stayed too. Not at all a cool look.

    IMHO there is something rather elegant about a fretless neck (I say that even though I'm don't own fretless anymore). I'm thinking of trying fretless again, and the SX's are probably a cost-wise intelligent choice, but I just can't swing with the lines. If I'm going to the grief of dealing with fretless, I want the whole package... and that includes a smooth, line free neck.

    I'd go with the $167.00 neck replacement. Many obvious options there.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Neck replacement highly recommended. Rondo has some lined fretless team necks right now for only $40 that are on par with your original neck and it would be fairly easy to switch them out and/or go for something new. I just put one on my first bass. :)
  8. Kosko


    Dec 12, 2005
    I think I've been shown the way. An ebony fretless from Warmoth for under the cost of pulling the current frets + I can always go back to the original neck if it sucks. Though I don't believe it will. The current neck may have a bit of curve to it too, although I know its adjustable, but still. As you guys said, probably better to have a neck specifically made for fretless and have it look right as well. Thank you to everybody.
  9. Not a problem, I'm just glad you've got yourself a new game plan. Be sure to keep us updated, and post many pictures when the new neck comes in!

  10. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Yea, i'd order a warmorth or USACG neck,, if you wanna build yourself a fretless.

    BUT, back to the original question.... I always thought if I were to get a fretless, I'd get a lined one, just to keep me straight. But, everytime I go to GC, there's this UNLINED fretless Warwick, that I really do enjoy.

    Once I'm playing, I dont miss the dots or lines at all, & find I prefer the look of a smooth black fingerboard. If you're sharp or flat, I find that I HEAR it before I SEE it.
  11. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I've had a Squire P, and have a Jazz with a Warmoth neck, and I'm betting you won't go back to that Squire neck, at least not until you buy a better body to put the Warmoth neck on :D . As for lines, you'll have to learn to not rely on them anyway (most places I play at are too dark to see my neck), so don't be scared to get an unlined one.
  12. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    But by the time you hear it, it's too late.

  13. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    By the time you see, or hear it,, its too late... fretless or not. Irrelevant statement.
  14. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Or you can look for a used MIM Jazz or P fretless.

    Hey, who said dots on fretless look yucky?

    This is yucky?

  15. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    for your situation i would suggest getting wood slightly lighter than your board, like klocwerk said. fretless is hard to pick up without fretlines unless you have pretty good intonation.
  16. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Hey, you can always count on the audience having poor intonation.
  17. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I say unlined!

    It stops those GC wankers and whatnot...:p

    That and I just think it looks cooler. Its like you don't need any help to play in tune, and you really know what you're doing. That and I played viola and DB, so I guess I'm used to it...
  18. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    You can see where you'll put your finger before you put it there. You can't hear the note before it's been played. Very relevant statement.
  19. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Ears, baby?
  20. 5intheface


    Dec 18, 2004
    I had a leftove Sammick fender-style Jazz bass (about as good as a squier I imagine) that I had the frets ground down even to the neck to make it fretless, and I'm pretty happy with that. It only cost me $150 I think.

    The frets are still visible because they are even to the neck, so it's lined, but you can definetly hear and see the fretlessness.