wanna go fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Oliver, Sep 30, 2003.

  1. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    ok, ive been playing fretted bass for approx. 1 year, but the idea of playing a fretless gets me all excited inside but i have never played one before.

    i know i dont have the complete "ear" for notes just yet since ive only been playing for a year kinda semi-serious/serious i guess you could say. But i love the bass so i'll play forever i know that much.

    is the transition from fretted to fretless extreme for a bassist with 1 year experience (my first instrument)?

    any advice and info would be great

  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    It might be a big transition it depends on a lot of things. Of significant importance is your ear for whether something sounds in tune or not. Where you play on a fretted instrument could also affect how easy the transition is. If you play very closely behind the fret you are fretting, the transition should be easier since you should hit a not closer to in tune than if you typically just hit the fret randomly inbetween the frets.

  3. Muscle memory is key when playing fretless. You have to play on the dot insted of in the fret so it feels different when making the transition.

    Good Luck.

    ;) Treena
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    i'm also in the midst of making the transition, i've been playing lots longer though. if anything i'd say it would be to your advantage to start out on a fretless early in your playing.

    i just bought a michael kelly acoustic fretless and i'm really having fun with it. i am starting to get the muscle memory thing after about a month of playing. shopping for an electric now and i have some good newz for you...


    there's a megathread about essez/brice basses here, do a search for it - it's worth it. they have lots of fretless basses and i drove there last night to check some out (i'm in ny, they're in jersey). an unbelieveable $120 for a fretless jazz that i liked lots more than a fretless fender i once borrowed. i din't buy one just yet because they said if i wait a week they're getting a big shipment of new basses in. for $120 though, i think everyone in the world including non bassists should buy one. i'm probably gonna tinker with mine, change the pickups, bridge and stuff. i've never done that before so i'm kinda looking forward to my own creation.

    last word on this for now.... i've been battling with the whole lined/unlined thing, and last night i think i decided i'm going to go for the lines. my acoustic has little dots where where the frets would be, so it's not lined, but has the reference points. last night i played a few with no lines at all (the side neck dots where where they'd be on a regular bass) and i have to admit i was struggling more than a little with it. the lined necks i was right at home. to hell with my ego, it's a lot easier to create great music with the lined ones. after i'm really comfortable perhaps i'll get one unlined.

    i see no reason you shouldn't get yerself a fretless. good luck.
  5. I agree with nerve as far as the Rondo thing goes...and also the lined theory.

    at first,I was set on a unlined fretless...but,I took a trip to G.C and I A/B'd a lined fretless and an unlined...well,I found myself lost and horribly intonated when playing the unlined...and I felt confident while playing the lined. You still get the wonderful tone and feel of a fretless,but you also get the great intonation too...And especially I think you(and I) Should get lined because we have only been playing for a short period of time(compared to some)

    So...good luck and have fun:)
  6. Trust me, I would, but Rondo don't ship outside the US. Is a crying shame, as I would kill for one of those fretless basses, especially for someone like me who has been playing about 2 and a half years and just wants a cheapie to mess about with.
  7. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London

    I actually started fretless on saturday night after picking up a 5 string fretless for £180. I've been playing 2.5 years or so.

    My fretless is lined, which I feel was a great decision, I daren't think what I'd be like on a blank-board based on my fretless playing so far ;)

    I totally aggree with the muscle memory argument, for example, on saturday and sunday I kept playing the bass but did not like the feel of the instrument at all.

    However, I was jamming on it last night for a long time and have started to really get the feel for it aswell as it's tone. Granted, I'm no jaco though ;)

    So to answer your question, I'd go for it but try and get a lined one if you can.
  8. I've just switched to fretless also, AND have been playing for a relatively short time.

    I have a lined also, which helps a lot in my case to get the proper intonation. I want to try for an unlined at one point, but I am nowhere to that level and really need a lined for now...

    So go ahead, and keep us briefed about your progress ! I wish you the best.
  9. Oliver


    Jun 21, 2003
    Perth, Australia
    the ones that are lined, well you play them the same way as fretted dont you? or am i wrong?
    how do you play a fretless?
    behind the fret/line or right on the dot ?


  10. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I 'fret' mine right before the line so that the edge of my finger pad 'frets' the string at where a fret would (Look in general instruction for more info, I got that pointer from HowardK)
  11. There's really no way to tell how hard it will be until you do it. And may I add: Do not give up if it doesn't feel natural to you right away.

    I had a lined fretless bass and always played it like a fretted bass. There was almost no difference, for me.

    Now that I have an unlined neck, I find that I pay more attention to what I'm doing, but more importantly, to what I'm going to do next. My ear has also gotten better. I play a little more slowly on my fretless, which I like.

    Another thing that I love to do, is to go back and forth between fretted and fretless. Playing fretted, and then going right to fretless seems to reinforce positions in my mind. Going right to fretted after playing fretless seems to give me more speed. Kind of like running with ankle weights, and then taking them off. ;)

    Lined or unlined is up to you, but I very strongly recommend getting a fretless.

    Now, if possible. I really don't think you'll regret it.

    Good luck.

    Mike :)
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