Starter Fretless Bass Suggestions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jonro, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. jonro


    Jun 26, 2011
    I recently decided to try playing a fretless bass. I don't know if it's something I'm going to play often or not, so I'd like to start off with an inexpensive and see how it goes. I think I would prefer lines and dots, to make it as easy as possible to ease into. After playing it for a while, I'll have a better idea of what features would be important to me in a future, more expensive fretless bass, assuming I bond with it. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Squier Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz Bass

    or, put a Fender-compatible fretless neck on a Fender-style bass you already like
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    What's your price range? Greatly influences things. :)
  4. See above
  5. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
  6. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    A couple times I have had the whim to think I wanted a fretless, and being cheap, and Fender oriented, I grabbed used (<$200) Squier VM Fretless's ... probably not something for the more serious fretless player (with the ebanol board which gets mixed reviews and the slightly raised lines), but it was enough to satisfy my whim until I sent them back down the road for what I paid ... both came already switched from stock rounds to flats, so that saved a few bucks too ...

    Edit so add: ... I did try a cheap Stagg fretless several years ago, which was absolute junk, the hardware was falling apart in a couple weeks ...
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
  7. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I'd recommend this one from Rondo since I don't see one exactly like mine listed currently . SX Ursa 1 MN PBU FL Fretless Bass Guitar -
    I got a kind of teal blue fretless J-bass from them a few years ago for about the same price and it's absolutely a decent bass. Hasn't warped or come apart over the 7-ish years so I guess it'll probably hang around for as long as I want it. Doesn't get a ton of play time but I do pick it up now and then. Especially lately since I got in a band that is doing some Bad Company tunes that sound like fretless bass lines to me.
  8. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    Can't get much cheaper, buying new, than SX.
    Check the TB classifieds, there may be a used Squier to be had. Your local GC/mom-pop shop may have one or two to check out as well.
    I like DIY projects, so I'd probably pick up a playable, pawn shop bass, in good shape, and pull the frets.
  9. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Squier VM fretless P or J
    Cort Artisan B4 FL
  10. The fretless Squire is popular, has a decent tone, and is rather inexpensive, especially used. It would be my first choice, although I would agree with the other posters about the Cort and the Rondo SX fretless.
  11. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Get one with lines, and if fortunate, one with the lines made of light-colored wood. Sometimes in 'budget' fretless models, they'll use plastic for the lines, and if the fingerboard shrinks, those will stick out just like a half-ass fret job on a fretted bass. Generally, the wood ones will expand and contract with the fingerboard wood, eliminating that problem.
    mrcbass likes this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    how was the neck (P?, J?) balance? weight?

    thanks. :thumbsup:
  13. Duder


    Dec 6, 2014
    I was also going to suggest an SX fretless from SX gets a lot of love here and you can't really beat the price for a new bass.
  14. theduke1


    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    Find one that is comfortable in your hands to play if it is not you won’t pick it up and fretless takes practice and lots of it
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  15. Haroldo

    Haroldo Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2005
    North Shore, MA
    With respect to the Squier VM fretless Jazz: over the years I've replaced the neck, tuners, pickups, added an Audere pre-amp. The only original bit left is the body - and because it weighs a ton and one-half it's going shortly. A long, roundabout way of saying 'it's OK, but you might keep your eye out for a used fretless of greater quality. It might save you money in the long-term.'
    Westsailor and bholder like this.
  16. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    I did the same with the one I had. It was my number one bass for several years. The person who bought it received a KILLER bass for a great price.
  17. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    There's a whole lot to be said for this approach, always better deals available used. For example, do an ebay search for "Peavey" or "Carvin" with "fretless bass" right now and sort by price low to high. Usually will turn up some great values.

    Edit: Or "Ibanez" even - one could do a lot worse for more money: Ibanez Soundgear SR370F Fretless Bass with Labella black tapewound strings | eBay (just an example, not promoting this particular item or seller). Just saying there are deals to be had out there.
    Duder likes this.
  18. Fletz


    Jan 16, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hartke artist
    This. Larry Hartke told me (and he was 100% right), there is no better fretless value. I've since sold mine for TF fretlesses (fretli?).
  19. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I got a used Peavey Foundation fretless with Super Ferrite pickups for $200 Cdn not long ago (maybe $160 US). Wonderful bass with a slender neck and great expressivity.
  20. wizerd


    Jan 5, 2012
    Prone to ranting, episodes of moral outrage.
    Really can't go wrong with the Squier VM Jazz fretless IMO. Mine was a MF open box and showed up without a scratch. I took it my classic rock cover band rehearsals and a couple of jazz gigs and it always sounded great. The ebonol board is not everyone's cup of tea but it is bullet proof although some have said it mars white with use, mine was fine. I always felt that the neck was a tad thin when compared to other jazz basses but I also have hulk hands. I sold it when I stumbled across a Sire V7 fretless at the local toy store and decided I couldn't justify having two fretless basses. Others have suggested Rondo which is always a safe bet for experimenting or even long term. Happy shopping
    bholder likes this.