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What are the benefits of fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Armedxx, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Benefits over fretted? Dunno- I like them both. Of course I can think of several reasons to have one or two, but I won't claim one is better than the other. one possible benefit I guess is that the annoying *here, let me play some FUNK* guitarist dude won't try playing it twice. :)
  2. sean.1986


    Feb 24, 2009
    Essex, England
    Lineless ones look cooler. I bet you get more cred with them too. :D
  3. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    The fretless tends to blend better with winds and vocal settings. Intonation is in your control (for better or worse). It forces you to listen more carefully ALL THE TIME and that makes you a better musician. Playing a fretless shows that you are willing to accept a musical challenge.
  4. I play one just to get better. IT forces me to muscle-memorize more. I originally got it for the whole mwah sliding around thing, especially while playing chords. What I have found it that the degree of precision necessary to sound good for me causes me to play more uniformly with my fretted basses. I have found that I have to hit the exact spot to get it to sound right, and with my fretted basses I can get by hitting the string jsut about anywhere between the frets. OBviously with a fretted bass the fret takes care of the precision aspect, but I like the idea that I am fretting in the same relative position to the fret itself on every note, and playing the fretless helps me do that. Of course, I need a lot of practice yet!
  5. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    A lot less fret buzz. A lot more fingerboard buzz. Let's you play out of tune. Lets you gliss and use reverb for that totally overused sound of 80's and early 90's pop.
  6. kcolyar


    Feb 28, 2007
    Moab, Ut 84532
    You get instantaneous recognition as the WORLD'S greatest and smartest and coolest musician when you play fretless bass IMHO. Humbly speaking of course!
  7. That only applies if you play an unlined
  8. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    no fretbuzz would be the only benefit I could think of.
    That could of course be interpreted as one less tonal color available to you.
    And of course an instrument would obviously and certainly be somewhat lighter with no frets on it.:D
  9. Oyve, not another lined vs. unlined debate. Lined simply isn't "easier" like most would like to imply. Both are about the same level of difficulty. I do not deny that I'm willing to cash in on the idea that unlined basses offer a certain mystique and most other musicians think I'm THAT much better. Lined fretless is more prevalent because a defretted bass must get filler lines and companies enjoy producing lined basses since it's easier to slot all fingerboards and fill a select few with lines. They sell better because it's perceived that lines will make it easier, thus they sell better.

    Regardless, ya start with one or the other. If it works, ya generally stick with that config. If not, ya try the other. If that doesn't work, ya become an anti-fretless guy.

    There are plenty of advantages, you just need to discover them for yourself.
  10. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    Well said.
    This is why i play fretless.
  11. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    well, having a fretless is no problem, I defretted my old Squier P-Bass, didn't care about the look, just took them out quick, whatever, it's a nice sounding fretless now, I don't find it too useful for what I do, but the benefit is to have it! lol, sometimes I play with it the tunes that are meant to be played with it, as for me, I will probably never write for fretless, at least not until I get a decent one

    so, the main benefit is Tone and Expresion [and Tune, if you want to experiment with half sharp/flat notes]
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Jimmy Haslip is as respected a fretless guy as any. Listen to him on early Yellowjackets recordings and the recent Jaco big band tribute thing. I think he gets plenty of credit.

    I guess it sounds like I'm beating a dead horse, but there are a couple generalizations that bug me:

    - unlined fretless players are better
    - compressors mask bad technique and squash dynamics

    Back to your regular programing....
  13. For the record this thread was not about lined vs unlined, I was making a joke to respond to the guy who posted above me about how fretless makes you the coolest ever. My only opinion of unlined fretless is that if you put one in my hands you will get the steve wishnevsky video redux. I try to play my lined one without looking in the hopes that once my hands and ears can do everything on their own correctly I could buy an unlined if I so chose, since a few really nice fretless basses passed my way that I didn't get simply because they had no lines.
  14. Alienation


    Jul 29, 2008
    I like the feel of a fretless. Especially fretless with tapewounds.
  15. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    I found fretless to really improve my understanding of pitch intonation and overall "listening" experience. Not that that makes a whole lot of sense, but I do play better now for it.

    Lined or unlined?

    A guitarist will feel less intimidated if you hand them a lined fretless bass to try out.;)

    For a bass player, it would be mostly a matter of aesthetics I suppose.
  16. ~Ethan~


    Dec 3, 2008
    Abilene, TX
    I thought of an illustration to help my point: Take a really good painter and sit him in front of a vast landscape and have him paint it. The painter will look at the landscape then paint a little until he has a master piece. Now put a blind fold on him and have him paint the landscape from memory. Just because he paints it by looking at it doesn't mean he's any less of a painter. Albeit doing it with the blindfold would SHOW more skill.

    Hope that clreaifies it. :)
  17. sarcastro83


    Jul 27, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    for one, you get to tackle all those wicked Bauhaus covers you've been putting off...

    I've never played a fretless... I might try one out someday when I'm a better player.
  18. Armedxx


    Mar 21, 2009
    It wasn't a joke topic, I'm just misinformed and worded the question without really giving it much thought.

    Thanks for everyone who responded too :)
  19. LouBass

    LouBass Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    So... I've been playing basses for ~30 years. Until I recently purchased that 33" Helms single-cut that floated around TB for awhile, I've never owned a fretted bass. My reason for buying the fretted bass was two-fold. One was the shorter scale and the second was that I want to do some work playing punctuated, articulated lines and chords (5 string, E-C/B, not B-G). Let's face it - bar chords and really any complex chord is a real, well, you know, on a fretless bass. Sure, the fretted bass will be a novelty as far as my main repertoire goes, but for certain bass parts, frets have their place. They are different instruments and each have their place IMHO.

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