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The Old "Fretless For Beginners" Line

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Zulujos, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. Zulujos


    Mar 18, 2014
    But with a twist in that I'm a guitarist for quite a few years. Knowing my way around the fretboard I was wondering what the opinion may be to have a lined fretless bass as a first? I would not even consider unlined but I do like the sliding tone of fretless basses.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Start with what you want to end up on. If you want to end up on unlined, start with that to avoid a transition period. If you don't care either way, lined fretlesses are more common and do offer useful visual cues that that can be used long after you're a seasoned fretless player. Also pay attention to the side dot placement as it can vary between brands. The tone is the same whether there's lines or not.
  3. Before Leo Fender got the clever idea of making a hybrid instrument that would cross a Telecaster guitar with an upright acoustic bass, all bassists had to develop a good ear.

    Fortunately, when you play an upright acoustic bass, the fingerboard is right beside your head. Developing a good ear is easy that way. If your finger is in the wrong place, your bass sounds off and you're the first to hear it.

    To anybody considering playing a fretless bass, I suggest this: Play one with your eyes closed; with your ears focused on where your fingers ought to be. The more you do this, the less value you'll expect to find in lines on the fingerboard.
    P. Aaron and ColdEye like this.
  4. I've never heard the "fretless for beginners" line ever..
    Bodeanly and Geri O like this.
  5. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    I don't disagree with the idea of diving right in, if you're serious about playing fretless. But, any time spent on a fretted bass - * if you're deliberate in your finger placement (just on the back edge of the fret) - is good preparation for a fretless and not a complete waste of time. You're building muscle memory in your fretting hand. It may be taking the long route but it might be a more enjoyable ride.
    GlennRH likes this.
  6. esa372


    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    ...some good advice here:

  7. David Engel

    David Engel

    Dec 9, 2015
    Sounds like a solid idea. All these posts that talk about not having fret lines are from the "purists" who then admit the tone of the note when played with or without a line is the same. I also call it vanity, akin to a piano teacher who says you cannot possibly play a classical piece because you were never properly trained to play classical. Hogwash. I just played a fretless bass that had fret lines at a guitar store and was amazed how easy it was to play and get the fretless tone I was after. My .02.
    ColdEye likes this.
  8. ColdEye


    Oct 22, 2015
    San Diego, CA

    I'm no purist, but I tried both and unlined is easier for me. Just depends on the person, you never know OP, unlined might be easier for you. Had two lined and one unlined and kept the unlined one. After some practice muscle memory kicks in and it's a lot easier just listening to it rather than have your eyes on the fretboard. Side markers are more useful than lines I think. I have to say going past the 12th "fret" is still difficult for me. Been playing bass for about more than a year now and double bass for almost a year..
    Hamish MacCleod likes this.
  9. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    I'm with ColdEye... with lines i was always trying to "see" what I was playing, without lines I listen to what I'm playing. YMMV
    GlennRH, ColdEye and P. Aaron like this.

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