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Recommend an Affordable Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LostInSauce, Nov 2, 2018.


  1. I’ve been playing for a long while now and never really wanted a fretless. Two years ago I started playing in church and have been blown away by how many songs were recorded with a fretless or the songs would be perfect for a fretless.
    So now I’m looking to dip my toe in the water. I’ve seen that ESP makes a mid-level fretless and so does Ibanez and I think I remember seeing a Squire fretless. These are unfamiliar waters to me since I’ve never really paid attention to them in the past.
    Any mid-level fretless 5 strings out there you would recommend. Further, I’m not opposed to buying used if the fingerboard isn’t all chewed up.
    Thanks All!!
     
  2. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    bholder and Yammybass like this.
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    "Affordable" means different things to different people. What's your budget?
     
  4. Around 450-600
     
    madjazzbass likes this.
  5. People seem to like the Ibanez Gw basses and those are 5ers. Both of my fretlesses were 4 strings. I’ve always struggled to find a 5 string fretless that was aesthetically pleasing to me. I guess you could always do a parts build. I’ve seen 5 string mexican fenders priced as low as $350 used and you could have Warmoth make you a sick fretless neck for it and just swap the tuners to the new neck.
     
  6. I have a Esp Ltd vintage 214 fretless that I put Geezer Butlers in that has been hanging on the wall. Its a 4 string, but I'm willing to part with it! A bit on the hefty side but its still a nice player.
     
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  7. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    If it were me I'd look at Ibanez and Cort and similar. I see a nice ESP in your price range on reverb, and a Sire V7 here.
     
    bholder likes this.
  8. puff father

    puff father Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2006
    Endicott, NY
    bholder likes this.
  9. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Purists may scoff, but this:
    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Squier/Vintage-Modified-Fretless-Jazz-Bass.gc
    I expected crap and found instead a light, nicely playing fretless. Instant mwah in the Jaco vein, which was the intention. The fingerboard is lined, a huge advantage in early accurate intonation you may outgrow, but this is a great starter fretless. I haven’t seen anything in the market that can touch it for $300.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
    TN WOODMAN, Artman, trothwell and 8 others like this.
  10. I had an sx fretless p bass for a while, never really got into using it to any great capacity and ended up selling it but it was well made and sounded good. If you wanted to save some cash for a nice feeling, good sounding and easy on the wallet fretless it would serve you well.
     
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I’ve played a variety of fretless basses over the years. But I was recently lucky enough to spot an 80s era Aria Pro II TSB-350 here in the classifieds.

    The TSB or “Thor” series is a 32” scale (yep, medium scale!) neck-through design with one or two reverse split-coil pickups housed in P-90 looking housing. One of the nicest line of instruments to come out of the Motsumoku factory. They sound and play beautifully and can be found in your price range although the prices seem to be climbing up lately.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
    LostInSauce and Nunovsky like this.
  12. Yahboy

    Yahboy

    May 21, 2008
    Squier VM fretless pbass.

    IMG_20180915_223932.
     
  13. BassUrges

    BassUrges

    Mar 14, 2016
    Denver
    MIM Jazz fretless used to run about $600, I got mine for $450 “open box” a couple of years ag with no detectable wear. I see that the price is up and they no longer use rosewood; I don’t know if that makes any difference to you.
     
  14. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    I play nothing but fretless and the best buy I have seen in years is the Squier VM series. You can get either the Jazz or Precision fretless, or with your budget, both.

    Guitar Center has a few of the VM Jazz basses on the website used for $199. They are almost always in pretty much mint condition, because unless you make fretless a life choice, you're probably not going to play it that much.

    Nice thing about the VM series in general is that all standard parts fit them, so if you want to upgrade the perfectly good pickups already in them, or anything else, it generally tends to be very plug and play.

    I prefer the Squiers to the Fender MIM/MIJ/MIA fretlesses for one major reason: the fingerboard. The Squiers have ebonol fingerboards (a composite), same thing you'd find on a Pedulla, Status, Steinberger or any other high-end fretless. It's ideal. Hard as nails, I've played nothing but rounds on my Steinberger fretless for over thirty years now and I've got some minor scuff marks. That's it.

    If you just don't do Fenders, I'm a big fan of the Cort B4FL, which is a great bass (I have four) and I'm seeing a brand new one on Reverb for $479 right now. Free shipping. The Ibanez Portamento series is made by the same people and they've got some nifty offerings. Both the Cort and Portamento basses are unlined, which, if you have not played fretless much before, might be a bit offputting.

    Also should mention the MTD basses, very reasonable and if they made an unlined version I'd own a few of them. They don't, but they make a nice fretless, albeit with lines.

    Really good time to be a fretless player. Most manufacturers are offering one, and with the exception of the Rogue MF/GC housebrand, which is awful, almost all of them are perfectly decent, playable instruments that will last for decades.

    One major problem is that you're looking for a fretless fiver. Not many of those out there, not cheap ones anyway. Someone's got a fretless five Status in the classifieds for $1600 but that isn't cheap by any standards and it's way over your budget. My advice is go with a four and drop it to BEAD tuning, which is what I ended up doing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  15. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Sheesh, heck yeah, let's get that sold! Day-yum!
     
    puff father likes this.
  16. Al Garcia

    Al Garcia

    May 28, 2016
  17. nilorius

    nilorius

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Check out - Ibanez GWB35
     
  18. puff father

    puff father Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2006
    Endicott, NY
    Absolutely. If I wasn't trying to thin the herd, I'd buy that bass. So tempting and 400 plus shipping is a good deal.
    Must resist.
     
    bholder likes this.
  19. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Thinking the same thing, the only reason I'd pick it up is to turn it around at cost to someone on here who needs one... ...but I'm pretty much full up on storage space, too. Put a link in the club forum, that ought to help.
     

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