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Playability factor.. 5-string fretless basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassman45, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    I notice that a lot of manufacturers don't make these, or at least require them to be special ordered. Is the combination of 5-strings and no frets too difficult for most bassists to feel comfortable with?

    This week, I buying my first 5-string "recording bass" but I'm having trouble making the decision to go fretless, even though I'm aware that it would add another dimension to my recordings.

    What'd you think? Too much at one time? Better to buy them separately? Thanks :)
  2. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    eh, fretless market is smaller then fretted, 5 string market is smaller then 4 string...you do the math : P

    edit: if your comfortable on 5 strings normaly, the freetless shouldnt be to hard.
  3. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia

    check the second hand market, i've seen 5 string fretless yamahas available here in australia, so in the states they should be more available. they're out there man, you just need to look.
  4. alembicfive


    Jan 17, 2003
    I have been using 5-string fretless basses for about 15 years now. My first was a Ken Smith Burner and my current one is a Carvin B5F (bolt-on) which I absolutely love. I found adapting to a 5-string no problem (I played a 4 stringer for many years before that) and having that low B made the bass even more versatile. It is only recently I have reverting back to using 4-string (picked up a fretless Jazz). But if I was in a studio, my Carvin would be my first choice to use...
  5. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    Funny you should bring up Yamaha... here's the bass I'm currently looking at buying.


    It has everything I could conceivably want, and at a pretty good price too. Coming from a 4-string background though, the neck width + fretless design is a little intimidating. Oh well, gotta start somewhere right?
  6. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Learning a 5-string fretless is just the sum of its components... learning how to play fretless, and becoming comfortable with the extra string. There's no added challenge, and if you intend to learn both aspects, there's no harm in learning each of them on the same bass. Besides, if you buy a fretted 5'er or fretless 4, you'll eventually want a fretless 5, and end up having to buy a second bass. Just find a bass that suits your specs, and your fingers will catch up with practice. :)
  7. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    i'd advise against the yamaha. i've played it, same model and all, in a yamaha shop. it was just awkward to play, and i'm one who likes big necks. i'd go for an aria igb-68 five string fretless. i was very tempted to buy one recently. you may need a new pickup though, not the strongest. one mm style. alot cheaper than the yamaha too.
  8. My Spector Rebop 5 is still up for grabs(I just lowered the price)at BassNorthWest in Seattle. Check out the used basses section of their website. PM me if you're interested in the bass, or talk to Aaron at Bassnw. It's really a great bass, but I like wider spacing & more strings. :rolleyes:
  9. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    More strings on a fretless should only increase playability IMO. The more you can keep your hand in one position and move across the board instead of up and down it, the more likely you are to be playing in tune.

    Everyone else seemed to answer the availability questions for you already :)
  10. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    :meh: It doesn't look any wider than other 5's... was it the thickness of the neck that bothered you? So far I've seen nothing but great reviews for this one (TRB1005F).
  11. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    Very good analysis! Never thought about it that way. Thanks :D
  12. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    I had one of my fives defretted, that's another way to go...
  13. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I defretted my peavey axcelerator 5 for my first fretless 5. I would do the same again but I want un unlined board. If that isn't an issue for you, then defretting a fretted five is a great option. It's a great way to learn a little luthiery as well.
  14. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    Well, I might as well buy a fretless while I don't have 5-string either... thanks anyway.

    I think I'm just gonna go with my original idea and buy an American Fender Jazz Bass V. I like their string spacing, and I can always buy a fretless simulator for effect. I'd have to wait until the end of the year to get a fretless Jazz V anyway:crying:... Unless of course you guys wanna sell one you already have? :) Thanks again...
  15. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Belfast, UK
    I started on a 5, and now play 6 and 4. I find playing 5's too akward, as there is that 'middle string' aspect and whatnot.

    I currently tune my fretless for to BEAD. It works well for jazz. Play up between the 5th and 12th frets, and I get most of the range I need on all charts, and it keeps me better in tune, without using open strings.

    A detuned fretless 4 is a great option as well.
  16. Bassman45


    Jul 16, 2005
    That seems like a pretty good idea. Do you use a real B string.. like a 130? If so, do you have a specially made nut at the first fret to accomodate the different string sizes?

    I tried detuning my Fender P-Bass E-string to B but it flopped around horribly... totally unplayable! I can't imagine doing this without the proper strings. Thanks for the suggestion...
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I have a couple fretless fivers. They aren't any harder to play than any other fretless or any other 5-string. You might have to experiement to find the right B string, because they typically don't ring and growl like the rest of 'em.

    Oh, you wanna see 'em?