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My new Tony Franklin Fretless P vs. My '71 Fretless P: Video Clips...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wateroftyne, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. Hi all

    This is an ongoing saga.. I have a factory fretless '71 P (he's called Pietro) which has, over the years, become part of my right arm.

    The GAS set in a while ago, and I bought a Fretless Tony Franklin to get the benefit of the J pickup. It was lovely, but... I decided I didn't need the J pickup after all. So I sold it straight away and kept my '71.

    Roll on a couple of years, the GAS has got the better of me again - maybe I do need a J pickup? - so I bought another Franklin. It arrived a couple of days ago.

    Like the last one, it's absolutely lovely. I'm getting on with the shallow, wide neck better than I did last time, the ebony board is beautiful, and it sounds great.

    BUT... do I like it enough to part with my beloved 71'? At the moment, I just don't know.

    Here's some pics:



    Pretty, isn't it? it makes my '71 look anaemic. I wish they'd tint the necks, though!

    It's incredibly well made, and a lovely weight.

    How does it compare to my '71 tonally?

    Well, here's a couple of clips. These were recorded using my camera's onboard mic. Both basses are strung with ancient La Bella flats, and they have similar action (medium/low). Hit the HQ button if you can - It really brings out the shoddiness of my playing.

    First up, here's ol' faithful '71.

    ...and here's Mr. Franklin. It's a longer clip, 'cos I go through each pickup config. P, PJ and J.

    As you can hear, the solo'd P pickups on each sound very uprighty (IMO). There's a lot of mwaah going on each as well... bear in mind these are ancient flats. With zingy rounds these would sing... especially the J pickup on the Franklin. The J pup on the Franklin adds a huge colour to the tonal palette.

    So... after all this, am I going to stick or twist?

    The answer... I don't know.

    I have a few gigs and rehearsals next week, and I'll do a lot of A/Bing. At the moment, I just don't see how I could sell my '71, especially now I have the Berg cabs. They bring out so much detail that I didn't get previously. The TF may just be passing through. We'll see...!
  2. Thanks for the lovely examples - I've desired a TF signature since they came out, and your clip certainly didn't help matters. My fretless is a Spector bolt-on with HG Thor's Epoxy Coating, and such it a very "hi-fi" tone, the polar opposite of both your P-basses. And while I love the tone of my Spector, something a bit more "low-fi" would be nice to have (a Tony Franklin in Black with a Silver Pearloid pickguard would suit me just fine :D ). But the ironic thing is that I really don't like Precision Basses! - a Jazz man here, even the Spectors are getting outfitted with Nordstrand Big Singles, the ultimate "Jazz pup on Steroids" to bring out even more of the Jazz side of my bolt-on Spectors. I'm so confused... :help:

    I suppose my first question would be, why would you have to sell your '71 if you keep the TF? If it's financial, the used market is D-E-A-D dead right now, and you'd get a sizable difference (loss) in selling it now verses when the used Instrument market recovers. It's a war zone out there - there are good deals to be had because people are selling to pay bills at this point, but even the great deals aren't enough to get the market to start buying. If it's that, I'd highly recommend waiting to sell as long as possible.

    If it's the felling of having two similar basses at your disposal, all of us should be so damned. ;) Personally, I'd switch to the TF for live gigs and retire the '71 and save her for studio work - I've seen too many friends Very Expensive Instruments stolen in the bustle before and after gigs, and this would save you that heartbreak, especially with a bass potntially worth as much as your '71 would be.

    Finally, I find that while they both sound pretty similar, the TF isn't an "exact" copy of your '71 - even using only the P pickup, I believe the hotter pickup and denser Ebony fingerboard gives it a more focused tone, which the addition of the Jazz in the bridge position adds to when combined, and gives the traditional "Jaco" tone when soloed. It's a great bass, and your playing brings out the best in both of them. Trust me, you have an extremely low "shoddiness factor".

    I'm not sure I've given any "answers" for you, but I hope my viewpoints and opinion on the subject is of some help. Good luck with whatever decision you make!
  3. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    Nice Basses.
    I'm a fretless P-Bass nut to. (I have a 1970, and a 1977)
    If it were me.
    I would keep both.
    String the Franklin with DR Sunbeams.
    The 1971 with TI-Flats.
    And have to great basses, with different tones?
  4. LBronson


    Dec 31, 2008
    I've considered the TF bass. I love his tone and style. I own the Jaco fretless and love the tones and neck. The only drawback so far is it is much quieter then my other basses. Do you find the same problem with the TF? I use Gibson basses most of the time. The Les Paul I own is modified but I use a stock T-Bird on stage along with the Jaco. The Jaco has about 3/4 the volume of the other. Thanks
  5. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Looooove the Tony Franklin. It's by far the best fretless, and one of the best 4-bangers I've ever played.

    One day I'm going to own both the fretless and the fretted versions. I would buy only the fretless, and play it 100% of the time, but alas, I like slap too much.

    I just can't get away from 5 strings though.
  6. WoodyJ

    WoodyJ Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2008
    Kansas City
    Interesting...the neck on my TF fretted is very nicely tinted. I wonder why Fender doesn't do the same on the fretless ones?

  7. Thanks, all!

    Lots of food for thought there. I'm leaning towards sticking with the '71. It sounds 'woodier' to me. Then again, I might swap the neck out for an ebony-board replacement... I've got some gigs next week so I'll compare them then.

    I imagine the TF - along with any passive Fender - would be quieter than a Gibson. Those Gibson humbuckers are incredible hot.

    In fact, the only passive Fender that would be as hot is the Mudbucker Telecaster Bass, which has a humbucker that is to all intents and purposes... a Gibson design.
  8. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Is the dirt coming from your Mesa? Both clips sound great by the way, but the '71 sounds more organic.
  9. Thank you!

    Yes... straight into the Mesa. Nice sounding amp...
  10. Thanks so much for posting these clips. No shoddiness factor at all! Very in the pocket, nice work.

    in your opinion, would the TFranklin's ebony board stand up to roundwounds?
  11. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    The pickguard on that '71 is gorgeous!
  12. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Tony Franklin rules! Super nice guy too. I wrote him and gave him props on "Radioactive" and he was very gracious. I love the looks of both of those basses in your pic.
  13. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    IMHO, as a '71 fretless owner, I advise you must NEVER EVER sell the '71. I love the TF, have played one a fair amount, and would have one if I had endless cash, but the '71 is something special and precious.
  14. Im not a fretless man but judging by the looks of both basses and the difference in sound....
    Never sell that 71
    Keep the TF for the variety in sound and for live performance. Keep the 71 as a 'backup' and as mentioned early retire it to keep it in it's current condtion.
    If you simply HAVE to sell one it may have to be the TF, but also as mentioned I woulds seriously consider keeping both. They are both incredible basses!
  15. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Don't ever sell that '71.

    TFs can come and go, but you don't want to be regretting the loss of that lovely old P. it sounds great with that 'board, too, I wouldn't swap it!
  16. Hmm... I think, given that I've decided the J pickup isn't my thing, that I'm probably going to stick with the '71. Thanks for your thoughts!
  17. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome - Dallas
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    keep both! Put the 71 in the closet. there, done, fini. :)
  18. crapshoot


    Apr 11, 2007
    Keep the Tony Franklin and give the '71 to me :D;)
  19. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I agree with those that have said dont sell the '71. Ever. Do whatever you can to keep both. Or off the TF until you can afford to keep it.
  20. Jason Brown

    Jason Brown

    May 1, 2000
    SLC, UT
    That '71 is awesome. DON'T get rid of it.

    I used to think mwah couldn't be had with flats and without a bridge pickup. Guess I was wrong.

    The TF is nice too. You're making me gas for one again.

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