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my fretless dilemma

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sargebaker, May 2, 2004.

  1. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    hi guys, im new to the threads here and i came for some advice.now recently i have been considering buying the yamaha attitude II bass (the one billy sheehan plays) but then started listening to a lot of jazz and stuff and relaized what i really wanted was a fretless! (however i will get the attitude one day, i love that bass) Anyways, i would apreciate some advice on what fretless basses are out there for me. I only play 4 strings so I am looking for a 4 string, preferably with passive electronics and in the price range of 1000-1500$ I have come up with a few ideas and i was hoping i could solve my fretless problem here. Here are the basses I've found that i could like:

    Fender Jaco Pastorius Jazz bass
    Rickenbacker 4003 FL (are the electronics passive?)
    Ken Smith (cant remember the model, but im pretty sure it's like 3000 $ so i don't think ill be getting it anytime soon.)
    plz lemme know what you guys think, and if there are any other good fretless 4 strings i have neglected let me know of them!

    Thanx a bunch

  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    The Fender would be nice, and there are some other decent big-name companies out there who make great fretless basses in that range (Skyline, KSD, etc.), but an Eshenbaugh J Series 4 -string fretless would actually be right at the top end of your range. Something like this (minus the crotch walnut top/back and maple/gabon ebony neck binding) would definately be within your grasp. :D :bassist:
  3. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    thats a pretty cool bass, never even heard of them before :meh: looks expensivish, but im also not too sure if I like the way it looks :confused: i love the lakland skyline basses its just i cant find any fretless that are 4 strings and I don't play 5. Those KSD basses look pretty nice! I'll certainly check em out.I would like to know more on the jaco bass seeing as i think ill end up with that one, i don't know if i can really see myself playing a RIC I can't find any down here so i would have to order it. The KSD looks pretty nice though (i just don't like the headstock) the price doesn't seem too bad either and i expect they are pretty decent coming form Smith. Does anyone know how they play? I'm going to the store in about an hour or so and I will ask about them for sure. A Hotwire bass would be GREAT... but if im not mistaken they are like 4000$ oh and a Carl Thompson would be neat.... one day, until then I'll keep dreaming

    Thanks for your help and keep the feedback coming.
  4. A heads up on the off chance you decide to order a Ric. It takes about a year for it to be built and shipped to you. They are usually 6 months behind on orders.
  5. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    wow thanx, I guess that crossses the RIC off my list. I found out the Jaco bass is gonna cost me 2000+ so unless i wait awhile I won't be buying it. Hotwire are like 4000, *sigh* I wish money grew on trees:spit:. I would like some more iunfo on the KSD basses though, has anyone ever played them? are they any good? How do they hold up aginst wear and tear and the elements?

    Thanks! :ninja:
  6. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    I have three fretless basses: Fender Standard (MIM), Warwick Corvette Standard (passive pickups), and Carvin AC40 (acoustic/electric). I love all three. The question I would ask you is what kind of sound do you want and what kind of music do you play (more specific than "jazz and stuff"), because these three basses have very different tones. Of the three, I like playing the Warwick best because it has a very flat fretboard, but some people don't like that.

    What I'd suggest is a Fender fretless with lines (don't let people talk you out of lines if you're just starting fretless). It has a great, traditional tone that will always come in handy, even if you move on to something else eventually. You can get the American for about $1000, but the MIMs (made in Mexico) are also great.
  7. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    well to start, i play just about everything. i play alot of rock and tapping but i also play jazz and carribean style music and i play slap and les claypool style stuff also. as for the fret lines i don't htink they are a necessity,I've played a linless feretless before and i didnt seem to mess up all that much. as for your warwick suggestion,i dont really like warwick basses, i know i shouldnt judge on sound, but i just don'T find esthetically pleasing. i would not buy a MIM fender. the american jazz frettless is about 1600$ down here so i think it will be an option, but im wondering if it would be better to dish out a few hundred more and get the jaco bass....

    As for carvin how is it? i always had the idea of a carvin in the back of my mind but i was pretty sure they were too expensive (i might very well be wrong though) how much did yours cost and how well does it play? also if you have a pic of it that would be cool.

    I would also appreciate if anyone else has played the KSD basses or know anythign about their quality etc.

  8. BoiNtC


    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    The Jaco is a killer bass. I own one and LOVE it. I'd rather put in a extra few hundred and pick it up over a USA (which is what I did :p) As for KSDs I never played the fretless model, but I own the 5string 70s model and its very very nice bang for the buck.
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Dude, I highly recommend Carvin. With a budget of $1,000 - $1,200, you could get yourself a VERY nice four-string. Neck-through construction (unless you prefer bolt-on, they've got that too), quality woods, excellent craftsmanship - it's all there. Trust me...

    I've owned a Carvin four-string for 11 years. It's a fine fretted bass - clear, deep & punchy, with great sustain & clarity. But I'm thinking that this particular model would be even better as a fretless. So I've got a fretless LB70 on order right now....

    Check out their website and read up on them: www.carvin.com. You can't go wrong...

  10. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    You can get a Carvin for $1000 or less, and you get to pick the wood, model, color, etc. It's great fun. The craftsmanship is really fine. I'd suggest the BB models. Go to www.carvin.com.

    Mine is an acoustic/electric, so probably not the sound you want, but I plug it into a Strawberry Blonde and it is warm and woody.

    About the lines--Even though you are close, it is difficult to get good intonation, and others have the pleasure of hearing it better than you. The anti-lines push tends to boil down to macho crap. They also look cool.
  11. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    thanks guys! I did check out the Carvin website and the basses aren't too bad. the liost on the passive one is like 670 USD and thats fretted so i reckon a fretless would be about 1200ish CAN for me, the only problem if i order a bass form the states if i have to pay taxes, customs and duty :( it gets expensive...my othe ronly real problem is that i fnd the carvin models a little ugly... i think its the head, i dunno it doesnt do it for me. However i wont count them out, i can always get soem fat black tuners and a hipshot d tuner or try to make it look a little cooler some how. My teacher is friends wiht a Luthier form Quebec who could probably make me a bass so i'm considering getting in touch with him. i think my main problem is I'm picky with my basses. I think i could get used ot a nice seafoam green Carvin though :hyper: :ninja: I'll talk with my bro (he works with customs) and ill keep you guys posted!
  12. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Have you checked out Warmoth's site? I have a J-style fretless with passive DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups, Schaller tuning gears, Badass-II bridge, etc., that with a hardshell case cost me less than $700.00 all told. The body was pre-finished, I had a local repair guy coat the lined ebony fingerboard with a polyester-type finish, and I put the thing together, no big hassle.

    I hope that helps, A.P.
  13. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    I don't like the pointy Carvin head, either, but you can choose a "traditional" head that is 2 and 2. Sorry about the tax stuff. Bummer.
  14. Have you considered a Lakland Skyline? I tried a fretless 44-02 a while ago and was very impressed. Mwah for days, and great versatile electronics (not passive, but you can switch to passive mode!).

    Russ :bassist:
  15. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    For fretless? One word....Roscoe!


    BTW, the resale on the Yamaha Sheehan basses are awful. You may want to get something that's not such a "niche" if you don't think you'll keep it forever or will be playing bass for many years.
  16. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Wow guys thanks for all the help! You've been great! I'm in school now so i won't post long. I'm really considering the Carvin. I think i can lie with the ugly head. If i get it it will be seafoam green :p it would probably end up looking super ugly but unique. how do they sound though^ the only person i know who lays Carvin is Tony MacAlpine and hes a guitarist. Can i get an uprightish tone out of a Carvin and how<s the mwah? I'll check out those roscoes and SWarmouth too though

  17. Tony


    Feb 16, 2004
    Southern California
    Sarge, I've got an old Carvin fretless with Barts, and it's a very solid sounding bass. You can definitely get an uprightish tone out of it. Mine was originally black and it always sounded muffled. I stripped the paint off and oiled it and it's got a much more open, woody tone that it did previously. I've just finished selling off the last of my fretted basses and once Adrian finally gets the cashiers check, my main bass will be a Benavente Vortex fretless 5 with no lines, which brings me to the lined/unlined debate.

    Personally, and YMMV, I see no reason to have lines, even though my Carvin has them. I struggled desperately when I decided to make the swich from fretted to full-time fretless, almost giving up on ever mastering intonation. It wasn't until I locked myself in the spare bedroom for a month and did nothing but play fretless in total darkness that I was finally able to play fretless without panic. Those lines may be comforting, but as long as you pay attention to them, you'll never properly hear the bass, and that's the key to playing fretless in tune - you have got to hear the note clearly in your head. Your eyes just get in the way, and as long as you have the lines, you'll keep mistrusting your ears and you'll struggle ... again, jmho ...

    Good luck,
  18. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Guys I think i have solved my dilemma!

    Carvin :

    LB20 4 string passive bass
    Black chrome hardware
    Hipshot detuner
    No inlays on fret board
    5 piece laminated maple neck with 2 walnut stripes
    Seafoam Green
    Ebony Fingerboard
    Tung Oil finish
    Maple neck and Mahogany Body with Tung oil finish
    total cost 828 + shippingX2 $868.00====> $1251.20 CAN

    Well what do you guys think? good decision? I would like some feedback on ym wood selection as i don't know much about different woods and went with what a rep. on the phone suggested according to what i told him (heavy body, sustain, sound etc.) Should i just keep the standard Alder body? And are there any Headstock overlay options that would be worth adding. I wihs they would show pictures :( Oh well lemme know what you guys think. If all goes well i will be ordering the bass in June. :hyper:

    Thanks, Baker :ninja:

    P.S. SHould i get my name engraved on the Truss Rod Cover for extra coolness? :rolleyes: or better yet engrave it with: "The Fonz" now that would be a baddass bass :cool:
  19. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    bump....sorry I would just like some feedback on ym wood/neck selections.