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Reccomendations for a fretless bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tida, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Help please! I am looking for a fretless bass for my boyfriend as a birthday gift. Problem is, I know nothing about basses. I play piano. :D So, I was hoping fellow bassists like yourselves could help me pick a winner.

    He's a self taught bassist for more than 8 years. He is heavily influenced by Les Claypool and, contrastly, Victor Wooten. Right now he plays on a 5 string and a 4 string, both fretted . He likes the 4 string, but it has bad pickups, he loves his 5 string ibanez - it was his first. Now he wants a 6 string as well as a fretless (however many strings i dunno) :rollno: Anyway, it will be his first fretless.

    I want to get him something that he can experiment with playing style and sound range. Good lows, clean mids and highs that aren't too shrill.

    Should I go for brands like ibanez, fender, or ritter? Or go custom, through who (someone who is willing to put up with my questions and lack of insight)? And how many strings
  2. goat1234


    Mar 17, 2004
    price range? do you know of any basses he really wants or likes? there are many nice basses out there, but if its his first fretless, i wouldnt go all out and geta custom built, that would coust quite a bit.
  3. Nothing above $2,000. He doesn't have interest in any particular brand. He usually picks one up for it's aesthetics first, then plays to see if it suits him. So far he hasn't found one. I've seen him pick up fenders and yamahas. But when the price gets above $800 he doesn't even try in fear of liking it. Unfortunately, his funds are tight so he can't afford to get one for himself.
  4. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    What's his current bass? Does he like it? BTW you're awesome for getting your BF a bass ;)
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    It's even better that she asked us. The world could of ended because of a wrong bass purchase. It could have been a little neckheavy, and the neck could have fallen on some thermonuclear device that would destroy the world or something... But I'm just rambling because I need to go to sleep..

    We've all heard horror stories of the girlfriend who buys boyfriend a bass. It's great that she came here for some bass education so a more educated purchase could be made. Education before action! Woo! Talkbass is knowledge and knowledge is power. :hyper:
  6. Why thank you! :D Well his 5 string is an ibanez soundgear series sdgr? Sorry. I wish i had them here to see. He really likes it, but the battery needs replacing. I don't think he knows the difference between Pbass Jbass passive or active. The 4 string is a "Great" Jaguar?? I have no idea. We bought that in Thailand. He likes the 4 string for it's sound and action, but the pick ups suck. When he hits the strings too hard it pops.
  7. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    I've never been a fan of Fenders either, but I just picked up a $150 Fender mexican jazz fretless (4-string) because it was cheap and will give me an idea of what I want and don't want in a fretless.

    Even if you make a very well-educated choice, he still may not like the selection you make.

    SO... I'd recommend that you get him a cheap fretless like a used mexican Fender Jazz and tell him that it's just so he can get an idea of whether fretless is really for him, and if it IS for him, so he can get an idea of what he REALLY wants. Then let him know that when he knows what he wants, you'll buy it for him.

    In my opinion, that would be the best of all worlds. This way, you know he won't be disappointed, and you will still have the joy of surprising him with a bass. In addition, he will probably enjoy being able to join you in picking out a bass.

    I know if my fiance was going to buy me a bass, I'd want to be a part of the selection, because she could buy me a $5000 Fodera single cutaway, and while I'd be overwhelmed by the generosity, I'd be disappointed because I hate single cuts.

    If you're opposed to my suggestion about the Fender, and he's into the idea of an aesthetically pleasing bass that sounds good, I'd really recommend a Warwick Corvette Standard. The active ones especially sound very smooth and sweet, the construction is excellent, and you can get one used on eBay or here or elsewhere for $500-700 (for the 4-string). They have 4, 5, and 6-string versions, with the 6-string usually in the $900-1000 range used. The 5 is, expectedly, somewhere between those price ranges.

    I've had 2 Corvette Standards, both fretted, and the one I had with active EMG pickups was the best sounding bass I've ever played, to this day.

    The Corvette also balances very well on a strap, looks great, and holds its value superbly when you buy one used. If he doesn't like it, you could turn around and get your money right back out of it. I bought the one with EMGs for $325 and sold it for $725, and I bought the passive one for $500 and sold it for $625. Warwicks are extremely low-risk if you get a used one at a decent price. :)

    Good luck, and be sure to let us know what you get him, and if he likes it.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Tida, why don't you check out www.bassnw.com and look under standard basses for the Ibanez GWB35BKF or Gary Willis bass. Since your boyfriend likes Ibanez, he will probably like the feel of this bass. I personally like this model, it has a really nice bridge pickup (Jaco) type of tone. I think it runs about $550, which is the absolute most that you should spend for a fretless. I think it's sweet that you would spend up to $2,000, but since your boyfriend has never played a fretless, why invest so much in something he might not end up playing so much? An even less expensive bass would be a fretless Yamaha BB404F, these are very well made, have jazz style pickup configuration and sound great. You could get one for around $300. One final slightly more expensive suggestion would be a Lakland Skyline fretless 55-01 ($700-800) or 55-02($1,050-1260). These are really nice budget pro-level basses that you could buy if you decide to be indulgent with your honey.
  9. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    I was typing my post while you were posting yours, so I didn't know you had 4 months of research time. Ixnay on the Fender mexican jazz idea. LoL

    I still recommend the Corvette though!
  10. Thanks Puarija. Since the fretless would be experimental. That idea would be most economical. He doesn't seem to have a preference anyway, so I'm kinda stuck making the entire decision blind.

    I was playing with the custom idea because, being in that business, the craftsman would have an intuition to what certain players are looking for (my opinion).

    Whether it cost 200 or 2000 I just want to give him the best quality I can. If it doesn't turn out to be his thing we can trade it return it, whatever and shop for one that suits him better; Or it will hang prettily on the wall. I just want to get him something that sounds great, lasts forever, and he doesn't have to tune constantly.

    I'll be researching the Corvette. I'm looking into Ibanez anyway, but there's so many out there.
  11. BTW, i'm not like, trying to throw my money away. I thought that most high end basses were around that price range. lack of insight, remember! Like i said $200 $2,000. It doesn't matter as long as it's a kick@$$ bass. I'm sure there's really good ones out there for much less. I just don't know where to start. So far you guys have given me something to go one. Thank you! I'll check back for more ideas and share my research (if you guys would still be interested by then)
  12. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I 2nd the Gary Willis bass. If i didn't suck at fretless so much I would get one myself. It has a great tone and construction. It's definately a professional level bass.
    And, I wish I had a girlfriend who would be kind enough to buy me a bass.
  13. Yay! I can get busy in the next week. Will check out Gary Willis, amongst other Ibanez, the skylines and corvettes. Thanks. Hope i'm not overposting. Just letting everyone who posts in response that they are not wasting their time. I have a genuine interest in finding out all I can about each suggestion.
  14. gapupten


    Dec 29, 2004
    Get a used jazz mexican 4 string fretless, ideally one with upgraded pickups. If purchased on ebay, you will pay between 300-400. These really hold their value. He can check it out, determine what he likes and doesn't and resell it when he's done. A great way to check out a fretless
  15. there is a really wide range of good stuff out there to chose from. the first thing I think you should do is decide if you want to get him a 4 string or 5 string fretless. if he likes playing his 5 string ibanez I would go ahead and get a 5 just because it does not hurt to have an extra string even if you don't use it much, in my opinion.

    MTD Kingston basses are real nice and come in fretless, I own a fretted Peavey Cirrus which I really dig and they make awesome fretless basses too. it is pretty easy to find a real nice used Roscoe fretless, those are my personal favorite fretless basses.

    have a look at this webiste and mabey give them a call, they are good people: http://www.basscentral.com
  16. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I tried MANY times to find or make a great fretless at the low price range (sub 700), and it just doesn't work, IMHO.

    Tida, I applaud you for being prepared to spend real money on this bass, because to get a bass truly worthy of being fretless, and behaving the way a real fretless should, it really has to be a great instrument, or it just simply won't "sing", which is pretty much specifically what people buy fretlesses for. Some folks refer to this as a combination of "mwah" and resonance.

    The bottom line is, if you cut corners on this bass, he won't get the fretless experience he should, and it'll be a complete waste of time and money.

    Personally, I can't speak highly enough about the Zon's. They are absolutely magical, super lightweight and super even tone due to the composite neck, and one of the best low B strings ever... and all on a comfy 34" scale. The problem is, you'll have to find one used to get it under 2K, but if you do, it'll be worth every friggin' penny. :)

    Again, IMHO.
  17. Niskamies


    Jan 13, 2004
    Get a Fender Jaco Pastorius model jazz bass, your boyfriend will love it! If you get one used, it will cost about a thousand, a little more if you buy it used.
  18. Having up to $2K to spend on a present, let alone a fretless bass for your boyfriend is really, really awesome. I would recommend Lakland and Elrick fretless basses, and I'm sure you are going to get ~many~ other recommendations, so now I'm going to get pragmatic ...

    I know you probably want to have something killer to surprise him with to unwrap on his birthday, but, I personally feel the journey of finding ~THE~ bass that fits the "player" is such a personal one that I would recommend having him involved with the process of selecting the instrument. That way, you make him super happy and he gets a great bass he loves.

    If that doesn't work for you, then another consideration are stores that have "trial periods" like Bass Northwest so you are not locked into something if you sense it's not a fit for him ... or maybe buy a case and wrap it up with a "gift certificate" inside for his new bass.

    The reason I bring this up is that my first "serious" bass I bought (over 20 years ago) was a custom order Rickenbacker 4001 ... OK, OK, I was a huge Rush fan ... anyway, I picked it out and ordered it, but my parents paid for the bulk of it as my 16th Birthday present. I was just as excited about the potential of getting that new bass that I wasn't even worried that I didn't have anything to unwrap that day.
  19. Okie! I was looking into a F Bass BNF5? What do you guys think of that one? I am also interested in ZON. Would you think a Sonus Special or Lightwave? I could even go for the hyperbass.. but they only come with Non detunable keys? What? I tried searching the forums for this answer, but couldn't find a clear one. Perhaps Hyperbass is jumping in too deep for his first fretless. :help:

    I saw some Ritters on random internet sites. They seem to be on the gaudy side. Wonder if that's why the price is so up there. I haven't seen any reviews ANYWHERE for Ritters.
  20. chimp


    Dec 4, 2004
    South Africa
    F bass is quite a bass for a first fretless but if he likes it he will not be able to put it down. Pedulla basses are also well made and to me brilliant basses. i dont know much about Zon but i have heard good things

    Mabe go shopping one day and just go into a music stroe with him and see what kinda basses he likes (which ones he plays) and then come back and tell us what he played and so on.