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Which body wood for fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Scottgun, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    I'm thinking of assembling my own fretless. (Perhaps getting a body from Warmouth.) What body woods are typically used and what do you think works well?

  2. As far as I know, I don't think there's much of a difference from fretted bodies, unless you really get complicated with exotic woods or something. Basically, ash gives you a tighter, growlier tone, while alder gives a warmer tone. Other woods like mahogany give even warmer tone with less high end, and even harder woods like wenge and ebony are very heavy and have a very tight low end and lots of highs. It depends on what sound you wan't out of it, a very woody, thick tone, or a growly, thinner tone.
  3. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Hard Maple is where the party's at.
  4. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    mahogany for sweet mids.

  5. Franklin229


    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    My opinion/experiece:

    The biggest factor that affects sound w/a fretless: neck-though construction. If there is any way you can go out and do a blt-on vs neck thru comparison before designing/building, I highly recommend it. While wood choice is important, I think a bolt-on design degrades the resonating qualities of a good dense body wood.

    As far as woods: Ebony or similar for fingerboard, mahogany as well some of the other dense exotics (see Warwick) are excellent for body.
  6. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    more important than neck attachment design is the attention to detail that fretless bass design requires.

    my current favorite fretlesses are

    Zon Sonus


    Rob Allen

    both with bolt-on necks.

    my first "touching the hem of god" experience with fretless was a neck through Pedulla Buzz (after decades of playing a fender fretless P)

    all three are outstanding products.

    at the same time, i've played neck through AND bolt-on fretlesses that had dead feel and tone.

  7. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    Korina!! Black Korina!!
  8. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Body wood you choose for a fretless is no different than deciding what you want for a fretted.

    IOW, no special consideration should be made for the body wood, just choose the tone you want to start with & go with it...

    Alot of other important things are mentioned however, Neck Construction,,,finishing details,,, neck/FB wood....
  9. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    After careful analysis, I find that ash is my favorite for fretless tone. All my favorite fretless basses have bolt-on or set-neck joints as well. Ash provides clarity for the entire range of frequencies, and the bolt on neck provides the punch and growl - to my ears anyways.
  10. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Two important factors:
    Neck-body joint must be as stiff as the neck, or more.
    Body should be about as stiff as the neck.

    You could vary the second point, to achieve what ever effect you like. The stiffness/weight ratio and s/w distribution are what adds resonance - but God alone knows for sure which resonance for which s/w...

    Personally, I like alder with a birch or maple thru-neck. With a bolt-on or set-in neck, I'd choose cherry. My personal opinion.
  11. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    Pardon my ignorance, but what is this and how do you ensure it?

  12. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I like Swamp Ash personally
  13. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    +1 for swamp ash....ash, mahog, or alder, id want it to have the warmest tone possible for a fretless.......save the punch and tight tones for a fretted.
  14. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    My new fretless is nothing but punch and tightness. It can mellow out a bit but not a whole bunch. My other fretless is the stereotypical warm tone. I must say that the new one is much more fun and sounds great in every style.
  15. I just got a Waraick streamer LX 6 fretless (second hand-LX series no longer made) which has a flamed maple body and I'm in love!!! I must admit that I'm no expert since i don't have the money or luxury to have played lots of fretless but i know one thing, this bass kiss ass (and your back unfortunatly - very heavy) tight and punchy, definitly the best fretles i've played - and it looks awsome!!!
  16. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Neck-body joint is the area where the neck is joined with the body - on a bolt-on or set-in (I also use the term for the corresponding area of a neck-thru, even though it's not really accurate).

    The idea of having that part as stiff as the neck is to avoid getting "peaky" points in the instruments bend line, when strung.

    What you need to ensure, is that the joining material is rigid enough. I.e. the material thickness around the screws closest to the head (which actually carries just about all bending force) is enough to counteract the bending. The length of the heel must also be enough, related to the stiffness and side hardness of the body material - the body must not yield! There shouldn't be much of a visible slot around a fit neck either, as it suggests a sloppy overall job.

    For a set-neck, the issue is the neck heel lenght. The rest will work out, though you may have to look out for the body heel shape, just to make sure that it doesn't go further than the neck heel.

    Neck-thru has a stronger joint than the neck.

    I hope I managed to clear the mist.
  17. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Some tonewood site that I went to said African Mahogany and Korina (didn't say what kind) were the same thing.
  18. Franklin229


    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    To elaborate, the tighter the neck or more intergrated the neck is to the body (NT being ideal) the more efficient the resonation. If you think of the sound travelling like a car through the bass, from nut to bridge-it has a smooth run on a neck through-not so much with a neck joint or dissimilar woods. The effect will be most felt if you want a lot more of a rounded, midrange tone. Not to say that being "less efficient" acoustically is bad-it all comes down to preference.
  19. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    No sir, they are not the same thing, but they do have similar tonal qualities.
  20. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Or you could go CRAZY and try walnut...