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Thinkin about going fretless

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by thunderbird66, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. thunderbird66


    Sep 30, 2012
    west Texas
    I've been a bass player for over half my life ( 25+ yrs ), mostly hard rock, alternative, etc but find my tastes changing. Been eyeballing fretless bass's lately.
    I do not know the first thing about it. Any basic rules of thumb to consider? Never used flats or half rounds, are these required on a fretless. Are pickups usually the same? Most videos I've watched guys are using their fingers ( I've always played with a pick ) Any info would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    After 30 years of fretted, I switched to fretless. Most did it because I am now doing jazz, big band and theater orchestra. I wanted a more vocal attack. You don't have to use flats or half rounds. You'll get a lot of different opinions on that. Most good fingerboards will stand up to reasonable use with rounds. Try both and see what sound you like. As for the pick, there's not reason not to use it. Frankly I like the softer attack of the fretless and I suppose the pick would move the sound more to the fretted sound, but again, try and see what sounds good to you and fits the music you're playing.

    Mostly you'll get comments here about intonation... and that's very true. Depending on your hand position habits that might be easy or a little time consuming. Open your ear and listen to the pitch. While you are playing fretted, try to always finger very close to the fret (you should do that anyway) and always be aware of the pitch.

    Good luck. I hope it works for you.
  3. Junk420


    Jul 19, 2012
    Cornwall, Ontario
    I have only been playing for 3 years, so I'm not sure what my 2 cents is really worth. But I picked up an Ibanez fretless 6 string last weekend at a local shop and I loved the feel of it. Played through an Ampeg practice amp and it sounded very smooth and just plain different.

    I just put a deposit down on a beautiful Dingwall, but I think my next bass down the road will be a fretless.

    I would say to go for it!
  4. emblymouse

    emblymouse Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2006
    Lakland Artist Endorser
    It's great that you want to give fretless a go. My advice is....don't begin with a list of what is different (RE: Difficult). Just explore it on your own and you will soon know your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can be more specific and work on one thing at a time. Pick, fingerstyle, rounds, flats, none of this is important yet. Get your hands on a good bass and start goofing around.
  5. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I don't think playing a fretless with a pick is going to sound very good. It sort of defeats the purpose of having that "muwah" soft attack tone. I've heard fretless with round wound and flats. Both sound good. It's all about what sound your looking for.
  6. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    As to why allot of guys use fingers instead of a pick - it is because your tonal possibilities are nearly endless while a pick is much more limited.
  7. Once you get used to playing with good intonation you will find a whole new world of tone on the fretless. Go for it.
  8. ddhm


    Mar 18, 2011
    Memphis Tn USA
    Do it!!!!! Rounds are fine. Picks are fine if that's how you want to do it. I might suggest a lined neck if you are nervous but an unlined board is SEXY and you might want one later in life. Just a couple things to think about.
    Best of luck,