Please recommend me a decent, inexpensive fretless to experiment with

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RustfeatherBass, Dec 5, 2022.

  1. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Hello,

    I would like to dip my toe into the world of fretless bass, but don’t want to spend too much money, in case it ends up not being for me.

    My assumption is that it should be possible to get very decent quality fretless instrument for $400 or under. Is this crazy unrealistic?

    My math comes from the fact that you can get a decent playing/sounding fretted bass for that price, so it seems logical that a fretless of the same make and model should cost less, as it takes less work and materials to produce than a fretted. Not sure if that’s actually true. Or if there are other mitigating factors that drive the price up, such as less economy of scale.

    Anyway! What recommendations have you got? What’s that little $300 ibanez, or $400 squier or whatever that you love? Or that $600 bass that punches way above its weight, that I should save up for?

    My goals:
    • Learn fretless technique
    • Obtain a fretless bass that is fun and inspiring to play
    • Doesn't have to be a “gig quality” instrument
    • I probably will just play classic rock on it, and do some recording
    • Open to used!

    My preferences:
    • No particular pickup preferences
    • Not super picky about neck shape, but prefer thinner “ibanezy” necks
    • Balances well, not super heavy (8lbs or under would be ideal)

    Options that are off the table for me:
    • convert a fretted to fretless
    • build my own
    • buy a fretless neck for an existing bass

    What about wishbass? Worth it?

    Thank you!
     
  2. nonohmic

    nonohmic

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Doesn't ibanes do ab entry level SR? Maybe like a sr300 fretless. Seems perfect for you.
     
  3. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Hi @nonohmic, thank you for the suggestion! Do you happen to own one? If so, what do you think? Ibanez seems like a good way to go, but I am curious what else is out there that might be worth considering. Especially from folks who own one that they love or have been down a similar road and ended up with a particular model they love. Thanks again!
     
  4. nonohmic

    nonohmic

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    I don't have one sorry. I went down the fretless Jazz rabbit hole. Bought a Squier VM Jazz fretless, then swapped the neck for a MIM fretless one. Then finally bit the bullet and bought a Jaco USA sig. All great basses at different price points, but the Jaco sig will never leave me.
     
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  5. Levent

    Levent

    Oct 26, 2022
    Second hand fretless converts go real cheap. Make sure It has at least 2 pickups or piezzo to experiment more tones:bassist:
     
  6. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa
    Another recommendation for the Squier Vintage Modified Jazz fretless. I owned one when I took the fretless plunge, but later sold it as I wanted an unlined fingerboard. A good option for sure.

    EDIT: Just saw the Wishbass part of your post. Others may chime in, but I seem to remember those tend to have fatter necks, and often require some work to get them playable.
     
  7. CosmicRay

    CosmicRay Supporting Member

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  8. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Thank you! good ideas!
     
  9. I bought a Harley Benton fretless jazz last year, it's Thomann's own brand and I paid 150 Euro for it (B-stock, new they are about 180?). I had to do a set-up, it was not playable out of the box, but after adjusting stuff for about 20 minutes, I couldn't be happier for the price. I wouldn't hesitate to bring it to rehearsals, and maybe some small informal gigs or jamsessions, once I got some chops on it.
     
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Classified here.
     
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  11. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Thank you, @GrayGoesBlack ! I will check it out. I don't mind doing a little setup work
     
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  12. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Thanks, @MonetBass ! I will check it out!
     
  13. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Moderators Local A440 Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2011
    Under the flight path
    My local Craigslist yielded a 16-year-old closet queen Dean Edge 4 fretless for well under your price limit a couple of weeks ago. Whether or not it would be inspiring for you if something only you would know after you played it, but it checks all the rest of your boxes. No, mine's not for sale. :)
     
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Here's what I would suggest. Find a fairly inexpensive FRETTED Jazz bass. (I prefer a P bass, but I think a fretless REALLY benefits from a bridge pickup.) Then find yourself a nice used fretless neck on Reverb or here at TB. Then you wind up with OPTIONS. If you end up loving the fretless Jazz, just sell the fretted neck. If you end up not liking fretless at all, put the factory neck back on the J, then sell both the bass and the fretless neck. No harm done for a fun experiment.

    I know this will kick up a crap storm. But try to go unlined if you can. Sure, I prefer the looks of unlined. But I also think you wind up ear training MUCH better with unlined. Just my opinion.

    But you should be able to find a fretless neck that fits a Fender neck pocket for (relatively) cheap. If I'm not mistaken, EBMM neck pockets are the same? So you could even get a Sub Ray or Sterling Ray and swap out for a fretless neck. (Don't quote me on that. But I think it's right.)

    Squier or Sterling body. Fretless neck. Go nuts. Sell it all if it doesn't work out.

    I even had another thought. You might even be able to TRADE necks with somebody.

    Anyway, good luck with it. Have fun! I got a fretless G&L L2000 a few years ago (after not having a fretless for over a decade). I LOVE it.
     
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  15. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
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  16. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    home
    I’d suggest a Squier Classic Vibe 60s Fretless. Direct from Fender they currently go for $449. Should be able to find one, or a used one, for less if you shop around.

    Big advantage with a Fender or Squier is you can easily swap out the neck for a fretted one if it turns out fretless isn’t for you. And fretless necks are pretty easy to unload on the TB classifieds so you’ll recoup some money if you decide not to keep it.

    Luck! And with hopes you stick with it long enough to become a competent fretless player. There’s a whole weird mystique and a bunch of ego tripping that has grown up around playing a fretless bass guitar. But it really isn’t any harder to play than a fretted bass - assuming you’re putting your fingers in the correct places on a fretted fingerboard. I started on upright bass and played that exclusively for several years before getting my first bass guitar. And I found transitioning over to the shorter 34” standard bass guitar scale far more challenging than you probably will taking on a fretless neck because you already are familiar with the scale length and have a good feel for where the notes land on the neck.

    If you want some guidance and help getting up to speed I’d suggest Tony Franklin’s series on playing fretless bass that you can find over on Truefire. The first fretless foundation course is probably all you’d need.

    (Disclaimer: no affiliation with Truefire Just a happy customer.)
     
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
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  18. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    there are a BUNCH in your area.

    boston musical instruments "Fretless" - craigslist

    The Squier Jaco style VM is cool.

    There’s a $100 Rogue. Offer $60

    some Deans, etc.
     
  19. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
    Thanks so much @40Hz ! great advice all around and much appreciated!
     
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  20. RustfeatherBass

    RustfeatherBass Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2022
    Haverhill, MA
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