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Switching from Unlined to Lined Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rogerbmiller, May 2, 2005.

  1. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    So has anyone ever make the backwards transisiton from an unlined to a lined fretless fingerboard?

    I wouldn't say I made the transition deliberately, but I just bought a vintage lined fretless Aria Pro II (converted) cause I spent years trying to find it unlined with no luck. Anyway, it's a trip playing fretless with lines. Trying to play directly on the line is so strange. Don't know if I'll ever really get used to it without screwing myself up on fretted and unlined.

    Anyone else ever experience this?
  2. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I just did, and I prefer lines. I thought I wouldn't, after playing an unlined for a few years and feeling comfortable with it. But after playing a few lined fretlesses at stores, I've found I just do better with lines. At one point, I would've felt shameful in saying that, but hey, it is what it is, and besides, Jaco and Gary Willis had/have lines. ;)
  3. Don't worry about playing "directly on the line", just do what you would do on any other fretless and use your ears. The line position is somewhat relative and can be misleading depending on how the bass is intonated. I play both lined and unlined and the lines are the least of the difference. Each bass plays a little differently and it just takes time to learn the ins and outs of that particular bass.

  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    My first fretless was unlined-sold it and moved to a lined one and I'll never go back. In addition to giving you another tool to intonate with, they're great when you're playing with other musicians and you can't hear yourself as well as you'd like.

    Where you place your finger depends on your bass and how it's set up. For the most part (that is not counting the very lowest and very highest frets), I place my finger just behind the lines. This way the breaking point of the string (the point of intonation) starts right on the line where the edge of my finger ends when flattened out against the fretboard. That can all be changed depending on your setup and bass though. I find it's easiest to play when it's set up this way, because that's also the spot I place my fingers when playing fretted, or at least try to. You can get away with sloppier stretches on fretted.

    The size, shape, texture, etc. of your hands plays an integral role in how you play fretless-far more than on a fretted. You may have to put your fingers in different places in correspondance with the lines depending on how hard or soft you're pressing down, or if you're using the pads or tips of your fingers.

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