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to be line, or unlined...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by nixrick, Aug 12, 2000.

  1. nixrick


    Aug 12, 2000
    Okay, im wanting to add fretless tones to my arsenal, but i am a dyed in the wool sloppy fretted player. Do i buy a bass with fretlines, or bite the bullet and buy an unlined bass and just suck for a few months?
  2. Welcome to the board!

    Two of mine have lines, and I've found them to be a useful to begin with, but now I don't really notice them. If you started on a fretted, and learned to fret just behind the fret instead of in the middle, you'll have less of a problem playing fretless. The main thing is to LISTEN! Your ears will tell you infinitely more than your eyes! Also, in low lighting, the lines are difficult to see, so the question becomes a moot point. What is more confusing to have the side-marker dots (if any) in the middle, i.e. where the dots on the fret-board would be. My Tobias Growler is marked like this - it's lined, but the side dots are in between the fretting positions! Playing fretless is a blast, but you really have to go with what your ears tell you, and any errors are much more apparent when you start playing with other people!

    Good Luck!

    - Wil
  3. IMO, you should concentrate on finding the tone and feel you want in a bass you can afford and buy that, lined or unlined. If you find your tone and feel both a lined and unlined bass then IMO, its comes down to aesthetics. Which looks better to you? I like the look of unlined better, but that's JMO. When it comes to learning how to play a fretless its more about using your ears than your eyes. Lines might help with the initial anxiety of "where do I put my fingers?" but even with no lines you get over that quickly. Of course the more you practice the quicker it goes.
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    if you have to look at the lines, it's already too late. besides, looking can be distracting from listening, which is way more important as far as getting intonation proper. i go unlined on all my fretlesses.
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Ill agree with unlined. Paying attention to the lines becomes a bad habit. If you go unlined, youll focus more on hearing, once you get to know approx. where the lines WOULD be. Lines are unremovable training wheels. I have lines on mine, but id rather NOT have them. I think jumping into unlined would just be more fun, and more of a challenge. And its prettier! Go with unlined...you regret the lines later!
  6. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Mine is unlined and it does look better.

  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...two cats who played/play with LINED fretless basses-
    2)Gary Willis

    ...whatever works for you.
  8. funkastorious


    May 26, 2000
    Mpls, MN.
    It depends upon what you are playing and how often you will be playing it...

    If you want to get "up to speed" quickly, lined will be just fine. However, you will still need to listen because on a lined fretless you need to play on the line, rather than behind it like a fretted.

    I prefer a lined bass simply because it easist to make large streches across the fretboard....arpeggios, etc. However, unlined look cooler and make it look like you know what you're doing.

    Yes, Jaco did adovcate lined basses.

    Another factor to consider are the side dots. Even on unlined basses, you are going to get side indicator. However, the side dots (in most cases) are going to be AT the note rather than inbetween like on a fretted. So, that has the potential to mess you up when switching back and forth. IMO, it would be ideal to get your same bass in both fretted and fretless.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Exactly. Try it and see. Either way the path to good intonation is practice.

    I use unlined. I play from the side markers. Intonation can get hairy above the 15th fret, where things get tight.

    What I like:D
  10. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    Brad that is one beautiful bass, don't ever sell it!

  11. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Too bad Brad stole it from me! I DEMAND MY ZON BACK THIS INSTANT! :D
  12. nixrick


    Aug 12, 2000
    Thanks for all the help...that is one amazingly georgous bass.

  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Awesome bass, Brad!
    Are those Bartolini soapbars?
    ...can't really tell; is the neck epoxied?
  14. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
  15. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Well, I've had both. My first fretless had no lines, and my current( and 3rd) fretless has lines. I'm not a no-line purist, but I do find that the string does resonate differently against the material of the line than it does against the wood of the neck. I would have liked a no line fretless for this reason, but I found this bass used and couldn't pass up the deal!

    Chris A. :rolleyes:
  16. My fretless is lined, but only because it was a "Jaco'd" bass...in otherwords, it was fretted and I had it de-fretted and rosewood veneer inlayed where the fret slots were. If I were to get a fretless made, I'd do it sans lines or dots on the front. I don't find myself relying too much on the lines anymore, your ear will tell you all you need to know, once you learn to trust it. I also think the unlined board is nicer to look at.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This reminds me of an amusing incident at the Jazz Summerschool I attended a few weeks ago. There was an optional "big band" that played some old Ska tunes and I got to be bass player - it was great fun.

    Anyway, there were several trombone players and the tutor asked if they could be a bit more precise with their intonation on the tune (head). To which came the reply :"But we're supposed to sound out of tune, if they'd wanted trombone to sound more precise, they would have given it frets!"
  18. funkastorious


    May 26, 2000
    Mpls, MN.
    Nice analogy Bruce!

  19. Bruce, that's great....I gotta share that one with the 'bone player in my band, he'll get a charge outta it I'm sure. By the way, he's got a 'bone I've never seen before, it's got BOTH a slide, and valves.....he can apparantly use it either way. Man, someone needs to come up with that for bass....retractable frets or something along those lines, that'd be quite cool :cool:.
  20. frost13


    Apr 12, 2000
    I've had both...and for some reason...I find that I get more into playing with my current unlined fretless. Maybe because I am forced to listen more closely....then I feel closer to the tones.
    That's it....FEEL the bass....becomse ONE with the bass...:)
    Actually, whatever you feel you need to help you play....is the way to go.

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