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New Tony Franklin Fretless P-Bass - Unfinished Fingboard!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by asg618, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    Looking over the specs for the new Tony Franklin fretless bass announced at NAMM by Fender, I see the fingerboard is unfinished ebony. Can any of you experienced fretless folks explain the benefit of this? I've been shopping for a fretless P-Bass for some time now, and I thought this could be exactly what I'm looking for -- but I'm concerned about the life of an unfinished board. Related question -- if I decide to grab one of these basses and finish the fretboard myself, are there any recommendations out there for material to use?

  2. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    aren't most if not all ebony finger boards "unfinished"? Ebony is an extremely hard wood. I wouldn't be too concerned about its lifespan.
  3. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    My ebony board feels like silk; I wouldn't think about finishing it. I definitely prefer ebony to rosewood; I haven't had a fretless maple board yet, but from my experience, ebony holds up better than rosewood. Pau Ferro and rosewood don't seem to have the same tone, either. I guess you'd say ebony has a bit more 'attack' in it; I feel I can drive a song better on my current fretless than any of the others I had.
  4. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    I too have an ebony fingerboard on my Carvin LB75 Fretless. It feels soooooooo good.....
  5. Ebony doesn't need finishing.
  6. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    If you did decide to finish it, I would recommend that you contact Mike Pedulla. All of his fretless neckthrough basses have polyester-coated ebony boards standard. I believe he will also coat any non-Pedulla fretless for somewhere around $400 or so.

  7. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    Thanks all for your feedback. The consensus appears to be that ebony ensures a long life without a finish. With that, I've already ordered my Tony Franklin and hope to have it this week. I'll post some pix and a review after I've had a chance to play around with 'er a bit.

  8. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    It was just announced at NAMM, and you hope to have it in a week? :eyebrow: I seem to remember it taking close to 9 months, or so, when the new Roscoe Beck 4 string was annouced and when they actually started hitting the market.

    Good luck to ya, though--the TF fretless P certainly got my attention. I look forward to a review, and, of course, pics! :hyper:
  9. BassFelt


    Mar 26, 2002
    I'm aware the question has been answered, but I'd still like to mention that violins, cello's and uprightbasses all have had unfinished ebony fingerboards for centuries :)
  10. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006

    exactly. I actually was just talking to a violin maker that I know ( and he was the one that modified my jazz bass) and he was telling me that he's seen some fretboards on violins last 40 years before someone brings them in for refinishing. I well made ebony fretboard should last you a long time. Some small scratches are inevitable due to roundwound strings, but they should make no real difference in the tone.
  11. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    If I don't need to refinish the fretboard on this bass until I'm 78 years old, that will be sweet indeed!

  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    What is the MSRP for the Tonyh Franklin model? It is one great looking bass!
  13. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    I believe with the RB4 there were numerous re-engineering issues to work out (making a 4-string version of the pups, a new bridge and that it had to meet Roscoe's approval) which caused delays whereas the Tony Franklin model seems to be much more straightfoward - besides pickups to his specs, which look to be much closer to standard P and J's then the RB's are, there's not much new to create.
  14. kjones


    Dec 4, 2004
    Also, with the RB4, there was some problem, apparently, with getting production going with the pickups (would Bill Lawrence make them himself, would they be made by Fender to his specs, etc.) and that will not be a problem for the Franklin.
  15. verbass


    Apr 26, 2004
    dayville ct
    The Fingerboard not withstanding I can't wait to get my hands on one to see if it will become my new GAS problem.
    I play a custom built fretless five jazz copy alder with quilt maple top , maple neck with thick ebony fingerboard (unfinished )and a basslines stingray replacement pup with a tweaked pre amp . I am always looking to expand the collection and I need a passive fretless . plus between the Geddy Lee ,Roscoe Beck, and Now Tony Franklin Fender has artist models that I really enjoy their playing and the basses for the Geddy and Roscoe models are just great instruments.
    see you all in the G.A.S. Support group meetings.
  16. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    Got the bass yesterday, MSRP $1,399. Comes in the black Fender Deluxe Hardshell Bass Case. Opened it up at my office and was impressed straight away. I got the 3-color sunburst and it's a beauty. The brown shell pickguard looks great on the body, and the ebony fingerboard just jumps out at you -- a real looker.

    Plugged it in as soon as I got home. Ran it through a Gallien-Krueger RB1001 head set flat across the board, paired with GK's SBX 4x10 and 1x15 cabs.

    I played around with the hipshot drop-D tuning, but only to see if the thing did, in fact, stay in tune when switching from E to D and back again. Plugged into my Boss tuner, this seemed to work perfectly.

    In short, AMAZING! The bass sounds terrific -- it's Tony Franklin custom P-J pickup combo is amazingly quiet (no hum at all, like Fender's noiseless Jazz pups), yet delivers a sound that is definitely more p- than j-based. It may be my imagination, but I found this to be so even with the pickup switch in position 1 (jazz pickup only). In any position, there's a little more thud and thump than I've ever pulled from a fretless, and I absolutely love it!

    I ran my fingers through their paces up and down the fretboard - scales, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and especially slides - everything sounds simply great (well, as great as my modest skills allow for!). The neck is comfortable and fast, the bass very responsive to minor changes to left- and right- hand touch. Up and down slides delivered fantastic "mwah", and running through the jazz pickup only with the master tone knob all the way down, I'll be darned if this thing didn't sound like a quality electric upright.

    I have to admit that the side-markers only approach takes some getting used to -- but after a bit of practice, I'm hitting the notes more often than not for notes that fall in-between the markers.

    A comment on the strings -- they're listed as Tony Franklin customs, but on the Fender web site, there's no product number yet. Remains to be seen whether these will be widely available, or I'll have to shop around for suitable replacements when the time comes. Be interesting to see what Fender's nylon tapewounds sound like on this thing.

    All-in-all, this is a definite winner from Fender. I don't recall being more pleased with one of their basses or guitars right out of the box. A very pleasant surprise.
  17. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Sorry, I want to be happy for you (apart from the seething jealousy), but no pictures=no bass.
  18. kirin


    Jan 11, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Is the MSRP $1399 american, or is that what you payed? All I've seen is $1999 US.
  19. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    Pics to follow -- gimme a break, I can't stop playing this thing long enough to post some pix for you guys! :D
  20. asg618


    Jan 9, 2006
    $1399 at SamAsh.com. That's what I paid.