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To go fretless? I need help...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by skit_skittson, Jun 27, 2002.

  1. I have a MIM Fender Jazz bass. I installed Basslines Vintage Jazz pickups in it awhile ago. I'm going to install a J-Retro preamp in it as soon as I get the money. What are the advantages and disadvantages of going fretless? We play mostly rock type stuff but we jam a lot and get a funk/phish/trip sound going. Any suggestions?
  2. TheDefiler

    TheDefiler Guest

    Mar 15, 2002
    If ur going to be playing with loud lead guitar and stuff, I'd suggest that you stick with what u got because fretless basses sound cool, but aren't punchy enough to be heard over wild distortion, and heavy drums. fretless is mostly for smooth jazz and stuff of that nature
  3. Fretless basses are definately not just for jazz and that kind of stuff, Check out Jack Bruce and Glenn Hughes. You can get some serious growl and punch from many fretlesses.
  4. Jodaka


    Jun 28, 2001
    Riverview, FL
    tony franklin, 'nuf said...
  5. there are no rules as to what you can and can't play on fretted or fretless. it depends what you want to play, and how well you can hear yourself when you play with a band. i know when i'm on stage i can hardly hear myself sometimes. that's not good on a fretless because you won't have a good idea of how in tune you are with the rest of the band.

    other than that, if you think it sounds good, go with it. don't just follow what others tell you.

    what sounds good is all subjective. you can't put limits on ANYTHING.
  6. if i do take the frets out, will my bass still be in tune where the fret markers are? or will i have to change figure positions? also is there a way with the j retro to kind of boost the sound of the fretless to cut through a little more?
  7. horse hockey. mule fritters and monkey muffins. fretless can definitely rock your socks off. listen to the clash or catch-22 for starters.
  8. jbay


    May 23, 2002
    There are bands which use quite a bit of distortion and have fretless basses... Say Enchant, Cynic, Aghora, Gordion Knot, Spiral Architect, etc... (with 3 of the bands listed above featuring the same bassist) Ohh, Tony Levin also did some fretless bass on Liquid Tension Experiment...
  9. You'll have to place your fingers directly on the line to get proper intonation, instead of just behind it (like on a fret). Defretted basses IME, are harder to get proper intonation that regular lined fretless. Stand a defretted bass and a lined fretless next to each other, and you'll see the lines aren't equal.
    I've seen a double neck fretted fretless (maybe JT's Conkstrosity) where the side by side necks have don't match up.

    Still, with the fret gaps filled, you'll be fairly close, and if you've got a good ear, you'll know when you play off.
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Hogwash. Here's a rockin' song I played fretless on recently. That said I would suggest against going to fretless exclusively. Try to find a cheap second hand fretless bass or one of the Yamaha entry level fretless basses for under $200 so you have both.
  11. TheDefiler

    TheDefiler Guest

    Mar 15, 2002
    Wow! There are alot of fretless fans here!! If u wanna try out fretless without blowing a whole bunch of money first, I'd suggest getting an effects pedal with fretless as an effect. I have a Zoom 506 2 Bass and it has a great fretless effect.
  12. lneal


    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    Why not just get a Warmoth fretless neck and bolt it on? Will they retrofit onto a MIM Jazz? If so, that's what I would do. That way you don't have to wreck your existing neck. I suggest an unlined neck because to me, anyway, a lined neck is harder to play in tune.
  13. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I've only ever spent a lot of time with one fretless, my Dean Edge 5. It is unlined. I would recommend an unlined board because they just look so darn nice. :)
  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    What is the allure of de-fretting a bass, when fretless basses are extremely affordable now?
  15. Unlinned for me please!. I really don't know why y'all need dem crazy lines foe. Having lines on your fretless is like having training wheels on your beach cruiser. Also having all those lines makes you look at the fingerboard way to much... If you go unlinned make sure that the location side dots are at the note and not placed as if it was a fretted board because it will fu#ck you up big time...maybe for life :eek:
  16. Amen to that! You should be playing fretless with your ears. When ever I play a lined fretless I find myself looking at the lines and trying too hard play right on top of them.
  17. Lines are OK unless you're gonna spend 90 minutes/day regularly on an unlined. I have lines on my Mexican J, but I still play with my ears. Lines just help me find the ballpark when I get adventurous (a la the newly-late Ox...r.i.p.) It really boils down to what you want, but forums like this can help you assess your needs. I would also recommend the 2001 edition of Bass Gear magazine, a supplemental publication of Bass Player magazine, as it contains an article written almost as if you had asked your initial question at the time of publication. It also has a buyer's guide of 7 frettless 4-strings under $750. They really liked the Carvin, but had good things to say elsewhere as well. They like my J for the upright-like sound, but I use it as my backup in a rock trio without too much trouble since the bass has that piercing quality to the highs (like most J's) when the tone knob is dimed. Good luck.
  18. I bought a tasty MIM J fretless with lines.

    I'm now getting ready to replace the neck with a Warmoth unlined neck. Reason: dot placement. I am not watching the lines, but I habitually finger at the dots, same as my fretted bass. This puts me a semi-tone off. The Warmoth unlined neck has the dots at the fret position, not between them as done with the fretted necks.
  19. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    Well, for me it was the enjoyment of turning my old MIM J (which just kinda sat around....the Warwick takes preference :) ) into something new. I just finished it earlier this week and, IMO, it came out great. The 'ol MIM has a new life now.
  20. actually, you'll be a quarter-tone off.

    i'm actually building a fretless neck for my MIM jazz. i decided it would be a good way to start learning, and buying a neck from warmoth or the equivalent seems too expensive to me.

    this way i can go back if i change my mind.

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