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Tony Franklin or Jaco Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by PeterH, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. Tony Franklin Fretless P

  2. Jaco Pastorius Fretless J

  3. Something else

  4. carrots

  1. PeterH

    PeterH Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    Hey guys, so I'm thinking of buying a fretless bass. Right now, I only have a Fender Standard Jazz- upgraded from a Squier P a couple years ago. Then to me, the benefits of the Franklin seem like having p&j pups, a stronger fretboard, and the drop-tuner; the benefits of getting the Jaco would be more tonal variety and the J-neck with lines, which I'm more comfortable with (but can easily go back to using a P-neck). Right now, I'm getting more into jazz and have been really into Jaco for quite some time.

    I honestly can't decide guys... Thoughts? Anyone have experience with either/both?
  2. radioripster


    Sep 30, 2008
    The Tony Franklin PJ is a cool fretless. The Jaco bass is nice, but the Franklin is a player in waiting!
    willsellout likes this.
  3. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    I think your decision depends on your answers to the following three important questions (before adding in the endless possibilities of aftermarket parts like detuners etc).

    Do you want a lined or blank fingerboard?
    Do you want a J J configuration or a P J?
    Do you prefer a J or P shaped body?


    Dbassmon likes this.
  4. PeterH

    PeterH Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    Hey Rob, thanks for the advice. For me, it's mainly about the J J or P J configuration and how different the two would sound. Would the bridge sound similar on the Franklin than the Jaco? I can't seem to find definitive evidence online. I'd try to check em put but they're not stocked in any store and I'm not in the position to go out to one after an order and try in person. The bodies are fine- I've done both. Lineless would definitley help my ears and fingers stop tripping up a lot faster.

    Leaning towards the P at this point but damn does the J look good.
  5. Forget looks, looks don't matter in terms of playing. At least for me, I play bass I don't look at them much. And as much as I love Jaco, for me, the P/J is a lot more versatile. As for the lines that's up to you, I started on upright so I never had lines till I started to play electric. I prefer a jazz neck but grew up on a P. So again, 6 of one...etc. fretless Jazz basses should be easy to find to try. The TF maybe not so much. But if you ask around you'll probably be able to find someone nearby that has one and in my experience most a guys would be happy to let you check out their bass. Good luck in your quest, just narrowing it down to two basses is an accomplishment in and of itself. You might try looking on the TF threads for someone in your area to contact.
  6. FantasticFour


    Dec 14, 2013
    I considered the Tony Franklin at some point, but ended up ordering a custom G&L because I wanted something both passive and hot (ebony board being a nice plus). It all depends on the sound you're after.
  7. HalfManHalfBass


    Jan 21, 2003
    Unless either of these basses have their bridge Jazz pickups in the 70s position (slightly closer to the bridge than the more common 60s position) I would expect them to sound the same or have the potential to sound the same if using the same pickup / passive circuit.

    How a PJ differs from a JJ is IMHO only a consideration when having both pickups on together. I have many P and J basses and I really wouldn't like to be blindfolded and tested on the sonic differences between a split P or a front J bass pickup soloed! Especially as I use the noiseless, split bobbin Jazz pickups (Dimarzio UltraJazz or Nordstrands!)

    When a PJ or JJ are on together is where I hear the biggest differences. A PJ has a different phase cancellation thing going on which sometimes (when playing slap for example) sounds a little brittle to my aging ears. However, as this bass is fretless that may or may not be a factor.

    I have owned lined and unlined fretless basses and would say that I find it easier to play unlined because I don't form the habit of always looking at my fingers -instead I rely more on my ears. Having said that though, if I were playing a huge live gig (where sometimes intonation can play funny tricks on the ears - sometimes in certain places the PA makes the bass sound out of tune even when it isn't) I would prefer to have the visual backup of lines -just to be sure of always being in the ball park of the right pitch. So, again the choice is rather personal here.

    My advice is to not over-think it here. Choose the one which ticks the most boxes for you, knowing that pickup swaps and even necks are a possibility if you really can't get on with it.


  8. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    I played a fretless PJ for years, now I have a J. If you want the bridge pickup sound, no real difference. If you use the neck pickup there is a slight difference, I would lean towards to P. In any case I would A/B the instruments and pick the one with the best neck. My J is playing great and I like the neck. I have not even considered the difference of the neck pickup. Just where I go on these things.
  9. TMARK


    Jan 10, 2012
    Richmond VA
    The TF is an astounding bass. The switching system is great, bridge tone is great, the feel is great.
  10. PeterH

    PeterH Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    I'm 99% on the Tony Franklin, now I'm waiting for Sweetwater to restock. Probably getting the black but the sunburst is great too. Thanks for the help guys! Will update with pictures once it arrives.
  11. Edmang

    Edmang Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2013
    I recently picked up a Tony Franklin and love it. Had been looking at getting one for a bit so had been looking at the various online retailers. These things are out of stock at Sweetwater and ZZounds only has 1 in stock and that has been that way for a while. Don't know if that is a sign they are being discontinued, or if Fender is just slow restocking. May want to check with Sweetwater if and when they are going to be back in stock.
  12. Neck size should also be a consideration. I'm assuming the Franklin has a Precision neck. Maybe I'm wrong. Just something else to consider.
    Camarillo likes this.
  13. Laklandfan

    Laklandfan Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2010
    New Orleans, LA
    I love PJ basses, but the Jaco necks that I've felt were awesome. That's why I love parts-casters.
  14. Tony Franklin on fender site
  15. So, it seems like a happy medium, so to speak.
  16. Yep
  17. The TF sure don't sound like a Jazz:

    Every time I watch this vid I am tempted to mod my 78 Fretless P with a J in the bridge. Still might do it.
    StevieMac, Tbone76 and bobyoung53 like this.
  18. Man, that guy is good! It's nice seeing a real rocker play fretless. I've been thinking of getting one of those, I think this video just tipped my thinking into getting one.
    I played a fretless P bass for years without lines, they have a more solid sound than a J fretless (which i had for a short period of time) and the lines just get in the way after a while and slow you down if you look at them. With dots at the 3rd 5th 7th etc on the side of the neck for markers you are more free and your hands and ear develops better. Who looks at the front of the neck when he plays anyway?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  19. Here he is with the firm, 1984. A Fretless music man saber I think. There was a lot of Fretless happening at the time, but he was the one who tipped the scales for me.

    bobyoung53 likes this.
  20. Josh-305


    Nov 8, 2014
    I have a Geddy Lee jazz body which uses the 72 pickup spacing, but I have a Tony Franklin neck fitted, i also have fender custom shop pickup's, best of both worlds for me as I like a jazz body.

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