Question about Fender Fretless fingerboards...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by White_Knight, Jan 22, 2001.

  1. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Ok, in the never ending fretless four search of mine: I've really narrowed it down and decided that I'm going to stay with a four stringer (for now, though someday I will own the RB5) and I've decided that I don't want active electronics, but do want a high quality fretless four. Anyway, so I'm looking into the Fender American Series fretless jazz bass and I notice that in the description that it says that there are "position markers" on the fingerboard. Common sense would tell me that this means that the fretboard face will just be wood with no inlays or dots and that there will be the usual position dots on the fingerboard's edge, is this correct? Does anyone out there have a current American Series fretless that could help me? Basically, I don't like the look of fretlines and I think that once I get fairly proficient on a fretless that they'll just prove to be a hinderance. I don't mind dots however.

    BTW, I'm looking at the picture for the bass right now and I'm not seeing any fretlines or dots on the fretboard's face, but I just want to be sure.

    Anyway, thanks in advance for any responses. You people are always so helpful (especially with my annoying/repetitive questions). :)

    Here's what I'm looking at:

    [Edited by White_Knight on 01-22-2001 at 08:22 PM]
  2. got a brand new monitor last friday and i must say i see fretlines. i haven't seen a new jazz without them for a while either
  3. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Yeah, it has fretlines, but they are faint on my monitor.

    I don't think that you can get a production Fender without them.
  4. It also says there are position markers. :)
  5. BaroqueBass


    Jul 8, 2000
    Salem, OR
    Fender makes unlined fretless??
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    You can get an unlined fretless if you buy an older model In the '70s, Fender made an unlined fretless P-bass, with a fretless rosewood or maple fingerboard (!)

    I think if you really wanted an unlined fretless Jazz, there's a guy selling an unlined Tokai Jazz in the classifieds section, pretty cheap, from what I hear...;)

    Will C.:cool:
  7. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Perhaps what is meant by position markers are the dots on the side of the neck. On a fretless, these are typically right at the postion where the note would be fingered, rather than in the middle of the fret space. I have seen unlined boards with the side markers placed thusly, and on the fretless Fenders from the factory that I have seen, the markers are right on the fretline. To my eye, this looks rather lame on a lined bass, but then again, I am not selling the hottest basses on the market!!! You may wanna send an e-mail furtim's way as he just scored one of these...

  8. Yep, definitely fretlines. That Tokai sounds good. They were a very, very good bass, exact copy of vintage Fender Jazz (for which Fender crucified them) and better quality. Well worth checking out, IMO.
  9. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Yep, I went back and checked out the picture a bit closer and I can see the fretlines...dang. I just hate having lines on a fretless bass.

    Oh well, I'll look into the Tokai and perhaps Mike Lull and Sadowsky. I know that Sadowsky makes basses without fretlines, but I'm not really looking to spend that much at this point. Just have to see what I can dig up. Thanks for all the replies.

    Big Wheel, I've seen a fretless 70's maple-necked P-bass: that thing was sweet. But I am a Jazz guy, nothing against the P-bass but I just like the tone and size/shape of a Jazz bass better.

    It's too bad that Fender doesn't currently make unlined fretless boards.

    [Edited by White_Knight on 01-23-2001 at 02:04 PM]
  10. membranophone


    Mar 19, 2000
    Madison, WI
    All of the MIJ fretless jazz basses had unlined boards...
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    White_Knight, I know you were looking for an MIA, but since they don't come unlined, there are some pretty nice used MIJs on Ebay right now, and pretty cheap too(at least for now anyway;)).

  12. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    ebellisher: thanks for the links. I donno, perhaps the fretlines aren't so bad after all: I don't really look at the fingerboard when I play anyway except for stuff in the upper range, and I guess fretlines might be kinda helpful up there.

    I noticed that Mike Lull makes a Vintage J model in fretless/unlined, seems to be a pretty good instrument though I've never played one. Opinions anyone? It's a bit more money than the American Series but it will definitely be quite a bit cheaper than a Sadowsky.

    Oh, one more question: how do the Fender MIJ's stand up against their newer MIA's? I've heard good things about the MIJ's, but I've only played MIM and MIA. To bad they don't still make those things, though I have to admit that I don't really like black basses.

    [Edited by White_Knight on 01-27-2001 at 09:34 AM]
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Well, regarding the MIJs, I have a Geddy Lee signature model, and the construction, fit & finish on mine is the equal of most of the American Standards that I have seen, and surpasses the rest.

    Now the new American series, from the examples I have seen, have improved quality control, and I have not seen a substandard one yet. Nice fret jobs, no flaws in finish, etc.

    I have seen multiple substandard American Standards and American Deluxes from 1999-2000 models and back.

    Maybe Fender has really finally gotten their act together on the American series.

    I just wish that they would ship them set up better, like imports from Ibanez, Dean, Yamaha, Peavey, etc are.

    They are all shipped with way too much relief and very high string height from the 7th to 15th frets and the necks are spongy feeling to me, hopefully just because of a bad setup.
  14. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    I have noticed the same thing. All of the Fender's my local store have nearly 2 inches of space between string and board at the 12th fret. I asked the guy why they didn't set them up and he said "Because you can't please everyone". Well, thats definitely true, but I'm *ALMOST* postive that no bass player in his or her right mind wants a bass with nearly that much space!!
  15. darthspada


    Jan 20, 2001
    Lancaster, PA
    The bass player in my old band, The Fat Little Demons, had an early 80s Fender Jazz fretless 4, MIA. The fingerboard had dots, but no lines. Unfortunately for me, she sold it about 2 weeks before I asked her if it was up for sale, otherwise I'd own it now. Although she never got too good on the thing, she did learn to play the bass on it, which is pretty impressive. It was the first bass that I ever gigged on... it's a dream to play. Nice tone, too. Although I find lined fretless boards easier, the dotted board was easy enough for a solid performance without too many missed notes for even the beginner I was then. I think you're making a great choice with the Fender Jazz. Carol's bass was also very, very reliable, much more so that the Univox fretted that she switched to. With the Fender she had fewer technical problems than anyone in the group, drummers included.
  16. White Knight, as far as I know, all the fretless Fenders
    have inlaid line markers. I have a Mexi one, and it's pretty
    nice. I don't know your playing level, but, for what it's
    worth, if you get an unlined neck, it's very unforgiving, and not as easy as it looks. I'm glad my neck has markers
    on it. If you really want an unlined neck, I know this will
    be a little expensive, but you can get a direct replacement
    neck at for about $250.00 That's on top of
    the price of the bass. I just thought of something, get in
    touch with Fender's custom shop. It shouldn't be that big
    a deal to get an unlined neck, and it shouldn't really cost
    more. Try it.

    Just my two cents.

    Mike J.
  17. White Knight, Sorry, that web site I gave you is wrong. I
    just went into it, and it's not the guitar site I was thinking of. I don't have my copy of Bass Player with me.
    I'll let you know tomorrow, if one of the other guys doesn't do it first.

    Running away to hang my head in shame, I remain,

    Mike J.
  18. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    MJ, you're talking about, right? I really like their fretboards/necks and was actually looking into getting one but decided to go the new bass route instead. I guess lines/dots don't bother me as much as I first thought that they would - I'm going to be hitting the guitar shops and pawnshops here in the next few weeks and we'll see what turns up. Thanks.
  19. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    I was gonna' post this in that "pretty basses" or whatever thread.

    W/K If you're anywhere near Hialeah Florida, run (do not walk) to a place called "Music Magic".
    They've got this simple, sweet `79 fretless P (unlined rosewood board) for...:eek: $725 :mad: