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Moving into unlined territory..

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bstringrandy, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    Hey fellow thumpers! I've decided to make the transition into the unlined fretless world. I'm going to keep my lined Fretless MIA Jazz because it's an awesome bass. Call me weak, but I can't play it without looking at those helpful little lines on the board! I've got a Dean Edge 35" scale unlined fretless 5 in trans. amberburst on the way along with a set of Thomastic-Infield jazz flats. I'll post the mandatory pics when it get here. :) I have 2 questions:

    1. I wanted a fairly inexpensive bass to jump off with. The Dean at around 4 bills looked to be a good choice. Does anyone have experience with a Dean Edge (fretted or not)?

    2. What is a good training source? Short of going back for more lessons, are there any currently available book/CD packages that you can recommend?

  2. justateenpoet

    justateenpoet Have you...killed the Venture brothers!?!?

    May 14, 2005
    Good for you...I'm currently leaving the unlined world :)

    I found that getting your positioning and notes right is just a matter of practice. Play with a tuner! Get a good feel for your neck and play each note on each string, getting a good grasp on the position and feel of each note.

    Also, warwick has an article about fretless basses that I thought was pretty good:

    Good luck :)
  3. I just ventured back from unlined to lined.

    I cannot do unlined ever again, unless it's an upright.
  4. Nice "starter" article. Thanks!
  5. I had a fretless 4-string Dean Edge for a short time- traded it for another bass(can't mention it by name yet; the deal is still in progress...). VERY nice bass, regardless of price. I've owned a Stingray 5, Thumb 5, Rebop 5 & the Dean(all fretless)& the Dean absolutely compared well w/any of them. Frankly, it was just as playable as the Stingray, SMOKED the Warwick, and slightly bettered the Rebop, IMO. Lots of variety, slim neck, low action- what more could a guy ask for? I do want to keep the same scale(34")on all my basses- if the 5 & 6 string Deans were 34", I'd probably have a collection. A playing tip: play w/a tuner, & find out where the perfect pitch is(for any/all respective notes). Also check the intonation/seup- it's an area where some might think,'It's a fretless- I can just adjust', but that can lead to problems, IMO. To me, having open strings 'match', so to speak, 'fretted' notes, played where they belong, is very helpful for playing in tune.
  6. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I agree 100%, especially if it's your first excursion into unlined territory. You can get very discouraged very fast if your intonation needs to be adjusted at any given "fret" position between strings. For example, your 4th "fret" location should be in the same spot on each string ... if you have to adjust slightly up or down on each individual string to get the note in tune you'll drive yourself crazy ........
  7. phishaholik

    phishaholik Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2005
    Portland, Oregon
    I personally find the lines harder to use than just the dots on the side of the board. Each note is in tune in a completely different place in relation to the line across the fretboard. I have a Dean acoustic and it is very good for the money. I say go for it.


  8. That don't sound right- did you catch the intonation comments above? If your intonation is spot-on, the notes hould be very close, if not in the EXACT same place. Are you talking about your Dean? ABGs typically don't have an adjustable(for intonation, in particular)bridge.
  9. Check out a local bass shop that has a fretted bass and fretless bass. The dots on the side of the neck are key - on a fretted, the dots are at the middle of the fret block (created by the two frets at any point on the fret board). On a fretless, the dots should be different...aligning to where the frets usually are. There is no better subsitute for intonation than a well trained ear, but the shift in the dots provides a nice guide rather than the lines.

    IMO, lines allow you be "sloppy," since frets do the note creation work. On a fretless, it's your fingers that create the notes, and the more precisely you place your fingers, the more precise your intonation.

    Of course, it helps to work on a vibrato with your fretboard hand. Makes legato notes more pleasurable, and can cover up minor intonation errors.
  10. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    Thanks for the great inputs everyone! That was a good starter Article from Warwick! I had thought about the scale differences. My Spector NS-5 is also 35" so hopefully that will help the "muscle memory"!!!
  11. I don't know that one is 'better' than the other, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that the 'big-name pro fretless guys' tend to prefer 34". I just like consistency, bass to bass, in that area.
  12. Lines on fingerboard doesn't help me at all.
    I navigate with the markers on the side of the neck which I actually painted myself on my defretted bass. (I made mark on every fret).
  13. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'll admit I started off playing fretless on a lined fretless, then another, but frankly, I found them to be a crutch initially, but now it's nothing more than a note, like the tape on the side of my upright for larger jumps. It's still a crutch, but it's better. It helps my upright playing significantly but you still have to play with your ears.
  14. phishaholik

    phishaholik Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2005
    Portland, Oregon

    I've only been playing fretless for a few weeks, so I might be doing something wrong. The twelfth fret harmonic is perfectly in tune when the string is also in tune. The note when "fretted" varies from right on top of the line to a quarter inch behind the line to a quarter inch past the line all over the fretboard. I know you are supposed to play behind the line in the towards the nut and move it to on top of the line the closer to the twelfth "fret." It just doesn't exactly work out that way on my board. I've been using a tuner make sure I am in tune. I'm not sure if I am being clear, but there is no formula to where the note is in relationship to the lines for my bass. Somewhere around there is the best I get. The bass is a Modulus Deluxe Jazz.

    Edit: After re-reading the previous post, I find myself unclear. The notes are almost exactly in the same spot across the width of the board, but not down the length. I shouldn't of used the word across in my first post, but down. From what I know, this is normal. For me, the differences in where the note lies in relation to the line is so different, that I would find just the dots on the side of the board easier to use.