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Looking at getting first Fretless bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RalphieBoy, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. RalphieBoy


    Jul 25, 2012
    Fort Smith, AR
    Hey guys and gals. I'm looking into getting my first fretless bass. Just wondering what your guys opinion on getting one should be. I am looking at a few different criteria.

    1. Price
    Should I spend 1500 on a Lakland 55-02 which is a fretless bass that I already have and love...
    Should I spend 700 on a Bass Mod 4 string bass that sounds amazing and has awesome controls...
    Or should I just spend about 200 to 400 on a beginners fretless so if i hate it I don't really waste money...
    2. # of Strings
    Should I go with a 5 string which I like just for the add notes and the usual 35" scale for the B string...
    or should I go with a 4 string which would probably end up with a 1.5" nut (I like p bass' 1.65 or 1.625 better)
    3. Strings
    What type of strings should I look at eventually trying on this if I do decide to get it.
    4. Style
    I mainly play in a church band setting where I guess you can say the style lends itself to being more rockish type playing, so I am wondering if I did get this frettless would I just be putting it in the closet to only play it every once in a while... (don't need to do this again been trying to clear out my closet... done from 7 to 3 soon... :crying: )

    Suggestion on fretless bass are appreciated as well.

    So that's what I'm wondering about any help will be nice.
    Thanks Gals and Gents.
  2. RalphieBoy


    Jul 25, 2012
    Fort Smith, AR
  3. FWIW I picked up a used Carvin LB70F for $400 as my first fretless. It's a wonderful bass, but I don't have to feel bad about dumping a bunch of money into something that I don't really do anything but noodle around on every now and then. To me fretless is fun, but not anything I'll be playing seriously any time soon. If you're in the same boat then I'd suggest doing the same thing.

    However if you're planning on playing it seriously then it might not be a bad plan to throw down some serious cash. That way if you're lacking motivation to practice and learn how to play proficiently you can look at your empty bank account and get in gear!
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Well I was in your same boat and I bought a Squier VM Jazz Fretless... I can tell you do not take the same route I did. Not only was it a handful of problems conveniently packed in one package, I spent about an hour with it (once I finally got it to a semi-playable state) to find out the transition isn't that bad and I should have bought a decent fretless first.

    Some people have had a positive experience with the VM Fretless, but in my experience, and many others, they all have awful necks that are far from fretless, the plastic lines are raised above the fretboard causing fretbuzz when you play it. The nut also needs to be re-cut for proper height. I have put more man time into getting the bass playable than actually playing the darn thing.

    If I was going to buy a fretless tomorrow, I would probably look at a Carvin truthfully. I could get it cheap and new and expect a well playing bass when it comes to my door.
  5. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    i snagged a 97 fender mim fretless j on craigslist for 250 with a hardshell case... try craigslist and something good with pop up used.
  6. CTC564

    CTC564 Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2011
    Toms River,NJ
    I was in the same boat 2 months ago...
    Have and LOVE my fretted 55-94 but didn't want to make that investment on a fretless until after a 2 year "trial period"...

    I took a good long hard look at the Squier VM Jazz fretless and was really surprised by the sound and playability of that bass but I came across a nice deal on a used Stingray 5 fretless and went with that...and I'm very happy with it.

    IME, having a fretless bass has inspired me to play in a more melodic, "lyrical" manner that has been very different for me...I think that having a fretless is more of a "flavor" that can add that extra something to certain songs but I don't it replacing my main instrument

    Regarding strings, I went with GHS Pressurewounds and LOVE them

    Good luck and enjoy!!!
  7. RalphieBoy


    Jul 25, 2012
    Fort Smith, AR
    Thanks guys more info the better.
  8. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Whatever you get, put some of these on it.


    These were a huge help for me when I first started playing fretless. My intonation benefits greatly from these lights.

    I suggest that when you first start to play fretless, try to play it just like your fretted bass. In other words, at first, resist the temptation to exploit the lack of frets, with slides and such, and make it sound no different than a fretted bass. I think you develop your intonation faster this way. Once you establish some muscle memory, than you can seek out other techniques.

    Get the best bass you can afford, and don't rule out roundwounds, just cause they may mark your board. Depending on your electronics, rounds may be just the ticket.

    good luck, JBY
  9. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Man get yourself one of those rondo music fretless jazzes for like $109.00 to see if you like it first before you lay down all that hard earned cash on a fretless bass. After you have evaluated your situation you can make a better decision. If you don't like it, you only spent like 100 bucks or so, and can sell it for cheap. someone else will buy it from you.
  10. This is so true; there are many fretless basses to be found cheap on Craigs List. I have a newer Fender fretless (MIM) and it is a phenomenal instrument and the best neck I ever played, period.
  11. drummike


    Oct 20, 2010
    I bought my first fretless at GC years ago when I was bass shopping. It was a used Ibanez EDC-700 and it had a great neck on it. I wasn't looking to buy a fretless, but it played so nicely that I felt it was a good move. I thought the price was reasonable at $325 and they took my Epiphone Power Bass (don't laugh) as a trade. It also had the adjustable midrange in the eq and was just an allaround excellent instrument.
  12. RalphieBoy


    Jul 25, 2012
    Fort Smith, AR
    Thanks guys for the info. I've recently been looking between two different basses.

    The six string is a fretless bass from bassmod an the four string is a fretless jazz bass mim.

    Ones a six string and the other four (can't find any 5 strings I like).

    The six string has 21 "frets" (dont know if different because of being fretless) and the four string 20 frets.

    Price different is about 800 for the six string new. The four string new is about 630 new or 450 used.
  13. RalphieBoy


    Jul 25, 2012
    Fort Smith, AR
    So which would you go with and why?
  14. The number of "frets" a fretless bass has refers to the length of the fingerboard. In these cases they have the equivalent range of a 21 and 20 fret bass, respectively. I still think a used is your best option, this Carvin would blow any MIM jazz out of the water and is less than the price of a used Fender.

  15. rberry7777


    Feb 5, 2010
    Bought a Rondo SX jazz fretless. 120 bucks. Love it! Big plus? Its fun to mess with -as in customize. Took the finish off the neck. Cheap great change. Popped in some EMGs i had laying around. Cooll! Just took them out and put in fender 75s might addin an audere. Either way, its fun. Just learned Portrait of Tracy today. Great fun. Ya cant loose.
    My recommendation ? you can get a fender jazz fretless pretty cheap. Just play it for a while before buying and make sure the store has it tuned to pitch ! Feel is different from bass to bass. Swing bass 66 round wounds and go!
  16. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Yes... this. IMO, smart thinking.

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