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What's the point of Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nirvanaman, Dec 9, 2002.

  1. nirvanaman


    Dec 8, 2002
    I have heard all the talk about people with fretless basses. what is the tonal difference? Would it be monotonious?eg. I couldn't get any pounch and only low end.:)
  2. Velkov


    Jan 17, 2001
    Lansdowne, Ontario
    My fretless jazz can be very punchy if I want it to be. I even slap it sometimes. Fretless basses give you that mwaaaah that you can't get out of a fretted.
  3. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Well, you gotta decide: Which do you want, something monotonious or something with pounch?
    What do those, uh, "words" mean, btw? ;)
  4. nirvanaman


    Dec 8, 2002
    i mean by monotonious only being able to get one type of sound.

    P.S. If i am going to get a frettles should I just get a jazz and mod it?
  5. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    most people play a fretless becuase they can't play upright :rolleyes: jk

    its for a different tone!

    Is this a real question or a Joke?
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    No. Maybe if it were a fretless Stingray, I guess. I can get many different tones out of my fretless bass. More than I can from my fretted.

    And to answer your second question, no. Go play as many as you can, and buy the one you like the most. And if you do buy a Jazz bass, you don't have to automatically mod it; you might like it.
  7. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    Most of us that play a fretless have been inspired by great fretless players ie Jaco, Pino Paladino, Alain Caron, Percey Jones ......Once you get that tone in your head nothing else will do.
  8. For that Wishy guy, the point is probably to avoid putting frets in places where there aren't notes.
  9. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    I'm holding my tongue and wil give a non-sarcastic response. I'm sure others will take up the slack. :D

    For myself, the main point of fretless is the emotional expression you can get from it. I find the balance of my playing on fretless shifting over from rhythmic to melodic compared to my fretted basses. That's not to say that one cannot be expressive or melodic on a fretted bass - for me, the lack of set "ending points" for pitches (discounting bends, which are a different story) lends itself to a more "vocal" sound.
  10. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Same here.... for my current gig, playing with one or two accoustic guitars, no drums/pecussion, I'm playing fretless all the time. It just fits this particular situation better. I often find myself playing fills that would usually be done by a keyboard or another instrument, or even another voice, yet I can still do percussive/rhytmic stuff too, even slap/pop if needs be.

    Fretless is (generally) more expressive, particularly in my situation where I don't have to 'fight' to be heard.

    When I play with my son's band, I use my DP Custom, MM pup soloed, so it can cut through 2 loud distorted guitars and a very loud drum kit.
  11. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I agree with most of the above posts. I can get more expression out of a fretless bass, and like how the fretless 'sings' in the higher registers. I also like the 'texture' or feel of a fretless board. I use flats, and like to feel string on wood rather than string against fret. I've been playing fretless 'only' now for a couple years, have found 'my' sound, and probably will never have another fretted bass.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    'Cause they sound purty.
  13. Stachio

    Stachio Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2002
    I think Boogie meant that it's spelled monotonous.

    Do they still make fretted basses ? What for ;) ?
  14. while fretless basses do have the mwah and emotional factor as was mentioned, i'm always amazed when i hear Jimmy Johnson playing fretless on some of those Flim and BB's tunes. Most of the time, i don't hear that much mwah, or what one would consider a characteristic fretless tone.. its kind of like a fretted sound but much smoother. amazing. i love his playing.
  15. Groovski


    Sep 20, 2002
    My happy place
    I have to agree with Superduck, Go to the music store and try several out. I myself have a fretless 5 yamaha that I never play anymore. I bought an Upright that has taken it place, and that is my new love. I just love that fretless sound. The slides add a different color and depth to the painting.
    I think, YES go get one. :):D
    Hope you enjoy.
  16. One listen to Pino Palladino, or Hutch Hutchinson, or countless others.....

    You would know why.

  17. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Gotta add to this: As one poster commented, I, too, can get a wide variety of sounds from my fretless Jazz. I can go from the mwahh sound that kind of resembles an upright, to deep, solid, and funky, to just plain "I can hear each note really clearly!" Also, especially with flats, it is a lot "easier" for me on the left hand fingers. I love it.
  18. tjoTim


    Apr 30, 2002
    Ohio, U.S.A
    What I like most about fretless is the feel . A fretted neck seems kind of lumpy if I play fretless for a while. :D I'm personally not a big fan of the "mwah" sound outside the context of something like a jazz trio or quartet playing standards.

    If I could make my fretless sound more fretted, it would be my main bass. Someone else with better technique could probably get a lot closer than I can. It's definitely an indulgence for me to have a fretless. Even though I think about selling it in my more practical moments, I'm glad I got one to live with for a while.

    The feel of it and the way a fretless plays is what hooked me, in spite of my need for all possible manner of lines and dots to play one.
  19. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    My reasons are mostly the same as everyone elses..I love to slide, i love the feels of the flats on the woods, the soudn is warmer and less clicky...but i really like being able to play quarter-tones in funky lines :D . My fretless does need a new nut though..so it's not getting much use at teh moment..
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Because a long black unlined fingerboard will do wonders for your self-esteem, get you admiring glances from musicians and lots of chicks at gigs?

    I hope. :p

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