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UK 6 string Fretless Woes

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Phalanx, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. Phalanx


    Apr 4, 2005
    If you're an English man who happens to like 6 string basses (like me) you might have discovered that its fairly difficult to find fretless 6 string basses on this island. At first, I thought I could get one off ebay but this has proved a problem considering all the ones that pop up on ebay look seriously dodgy. Then I thought about taking the defret option but im a bit worried with the idea of damaging an instrument and then, what instrument should I defret?
    Im also a bit concerned because I played the Gary Willis signature and I loved it due to its whine but having heard a few fretless basses hear, it seems that most fretless basses have a nice whine to them ( i was worried some didn't) so now here I am without a clue what I should do. My budget is around £300 but if I were to wait till christmas, im sure it could go higher, but I sorta want the fretless bass to be an experiment as im sure its quite understandable that im not sure if I would be able to use one to replace my lovely TRB6II but having played the gary willis sig, I really loved fretless and im sure it would open up my playing.

    Now to the point, should I get a cheapo bass and Defret it?
    someone recommended me one of these to defret:
    Should I wait for a Conklin 7 to appear on ebay, get one and defret that (im worried about defretting and buying all the way from america)
    should I think about getting a carvin, but im not sure if they sell to the UK and how cheap I could get a fretless six string from them for

    thanks :bassist:
  2. Being in the UK, you are crazy if you don't go talk to Jon Shuker right now.;)


    I have three of his 6 string basses, and even with the shipping to the US and the exchange rate, they were worth every penny I paid and far more. Jon does very high quality work, and the prices are not far from what you'd pay for one of the better imported factory basses. I owned Carvin basses for years and still think they're good stuff, but Jon's work is significantly better IMO, it's handmade, and it might even cost you less (or at least little more) than Carvin, Ibanez, or Yamaha if you don't go crazy with options.

    If you can get custom work for factory prices, to me that's an utter no-brainer.
  3. Phalanx


    Apr 4, 2005
    thanks for the reply mate, i've seen Shuker guitars before and im quite impressed with the prices but its a little bit too far out of reach for me. Maybe but atleast with the Carvin ones, I can get a cheaper basic model and if I wanted to, i could get a few features added. :smug:
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Where in the UK are you? If you're anywhere near London, both the Gallery and the Bass Centre would be worth checking out. However, six string basses are relatively rare and fretless ones much more so... finding a decent one in your price range might require quite a lot of persistence in following up all sorts of second-hand leads.

    I got mine by having Martin at the Gallery defret my Washburn XB-600 a little while after I picked up my fretted Sei 6. That's turned out really well and works for me - much better than the very amateur job I did on an old bass I tried defretting myself years ago.

  5. Phalanx


    You might like to call Alex at The Gallery in London on 020 7267 5458. He will be able to advise you if what you seek is possible although I suspect that your budget might be a little low. If it is then 2nd hand might be the way to go but this of course will limit your choice even more than seeking a new 6 string fretless.

    Good luck in your search.


    ps say hi to Alex [or Martin] from me if you do ring him
  6. ingo62


    Mar 15, 2005
    Emden, Germany
  7. What's your price range?

    True, you might be able to get a cheaper basic Carvin, but aside from tweaking the hardware (e.g., PUs, preamp), you won't be able to add on any features after it's built. I mean, you can't change the body or the neck or anything.

    AFAIK, Carvin won't sell directly to people in the UK. They do have UK dealers, and I think you have to order through them. You can find some of those here:


    I don't know how cheap you'll be able to get the Carvin. The basic price for the cheapest model LB76 is now $999, with no options at all (there's currently a $100 off sael, but I don't know if that's available outseide North America). That's 568 pounds as of today. There's no way you'll pay less than that price in the UK; the only question is how much more it will be. With a few options, you could be looking at an 800-900 pound bass.

    If you want another TRB6II, maybe to defret it, seems to me they go for at least $1200-1300 in the US (682-738 pounds).

    Here's something else to consider: if you're currently playing a TRB6II, you're used to wide string spacing (about 19 mm). Carvin's spacing on their 6s is considerably narrower (about 16.5 mm), and you can't get wider spacing as an option. The difference between the two basses may not be a problem for you, and you might even like the narrower spacing on the Carvin, but in any case, it's going to be an adjustment, and you should take it into account.

    Shuker's basic bolt on starts at 595 pounds. That's for a 4 string, so a 6 would probably be about 800 (assuming no other options). And you can get the string spacing you want.

    It all comes down to what you like, want, and can afford. Good hunting! Six string fretless is a blast.

    EDIT: I'm sorry, I'm an idiot, I totally didn't notice that you said you had a budget of around 300 pounds right now. That'll teach me to read slower....

    Anyway, there's no way you can get close even to a Carvin fretless 6 for that amount. Not new anyway. And probably not to anything else new that would be of comparable quality to your TRB. Your best bet would probably be the used market, though the pickings will be slim when it comes to 6 string fretless.
  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    FWIW (probably not very much) I've found narrow spacing far less hampering on a fretless than a fretted bass. My Washburn is only 15mm at the bridge, which was one of the limiting factors I realised in my first few years of owning the instrument but, now I've got my 18mm spacing Sei, the Washburn feels perfect in its fretless role.

    I'd second Matthew on giving Alex a call - enlisting his eyes to help you look could well open up some options, especially if you can stretch your budget a bit higher.

  9. Phalanx


    Apr 4, 2005
    I understand that im being a bit cheap but my only job was in the summer and thats how I got my TRB6II with about £400 left over, but Im also planning on getting an amp for Xmas but since my birthday is also in December, I mean, I wanna get a good one so im going to be waiting till Christmas before I make any decisions anyway but I like to do alot of research before I spend an amount of money like this. So far my options seem to be:

    A Shuker 6 string bass
    A carvin 6 string bass (which might not be possible since you said they don't serve UK people)
    Defretting a 6 string (i'd do it to a TRB6II, they're fking brilliant)
    Getting a 4/5 string model

    Don't get me wrong, those shukers look very delicious, but im scepticle that getting a pimped out Carvin (if I can get one) for the same price as a basic shuker would be more my thing. And I hardly ever see second hand 6 string fretless basses, I see those fretless washburns often but I honestly don't think they look that great (no offence to the guy who does own one). Spacing also isn't really a problem for me, its going to be primarily for finger style and i've played quite a number of tight spaced basses which haven't been a problem for my finger style, my TRB6II has an incredible wide spacing but I chose that because I wanted to be able to do funk styles as well as finger style on it (which I can)

    So, im going to check out shuker now, keep checking ebay but are you definate Carvin dont post to the UK cos if thats the case, its a bummer :(

    (I don't wanna sound like im cheap, I sorta said £300 cos thats how much im prepared to pay at this time, if anything great popped up, but im planning to get one at around christmas time :D )
  10. Well, about not selling directly to individual UK buyers, yeah, I am pretty sure--say 98%--but if you want to verify it for yourself, call them or e-mail them.


    About a pimped-out Carvin being preferable to a basic Shuker, well, that's up to you. I owned Carvin 6s for years. They're perfectly fine basses, and I made a lot of music on them. IMO my Shukers are a major step up, and if the money is the same, I would take the Shukers in a heartbeat. No hesitation, no doubt. If money is that tight--and no one is knocking you for that--then IMO you're ill-advised to be even thinking about "pimping out" ANYTHING. Why spend money on "pimping out" when you could spend it on higher basic quality? (And again, this is no knock on Carvin, or Yamaha TRB for that matter, both of which are good basses.)
  11. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    How about a secondhand Cort Curbow? I think there's a fretless 6 model. Used, you could possibly find one in the £400 region(?)

    Don't forget that with the Carvin option, you're going to have to fork out for shipping costs, import taxes, VAT etc. Probably not such a cheap option after all.
  12. Phalanx


    Apr 4, 2005

    ill take your word for it about the Shukers, i'll do my research on them, thanks for the help