which makes a better fretless, P or J?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by steveg, Mar 22, 2002.

  1. steveg


    Feb 26, 2002
    Madison, WI
    I've been thinking about building a fretless bass as a new project but can't decide if I should go P-bass or J-bass. I only want four strings, and I don't slap. I'm just thinking in terms of the original Fender styles.

    I'm leaning to the J-bass. The fretless J-bass is kind of classic, ya know. But I really like the P-bass punchiness, and think it might work well as an alternative to an upright type of sound.

    So what do you think of when you think fretless Fenders? P or J?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany

    A P-bass is ok as a fretless, but a J-bass excels.

    Or just do a bass with PJ pickups.
  3. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I have fretless both, and it's almost a toss up. I like a P neck better, but I like the tones I get from each. Both are rosewood boards, so I suppose there would be some more variables if one was maple. My P is a '79 and my J is a CIJ RI '75. I guess I lean more toward the MIA P.
  4. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    But Jaco played a J..................:D
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I pefer the bridge pickup sound of a Jazz to the P, though both can sound fine in their own way.
  6. Why not do a P/J?

    I prefer a J setup for fretless, but I've played some nice sounded fretless Ps.

  7. I'm not a huge fan of fretless j basses, and I've never played a fretless p, but my fretless has a p pickup, and I like the sound of that. It won't give me that Jaco sound, but I don't really want it anyway.
  8. steveg


    Feb 26, 2002
    Madison, WI
    Well, this was first posted a long time ago, but I decided on a P-bass style for fretless. I tried the same fretless neck on both a J-bass type body and a P-bass type body and got more of the sound I was after from the P-bass.

    It was a fun experiment.
  9. jbucklin


    Oct 24, 2001
    I recently lucked into a deal---a guy traded me a '96 MIA Fretless P with a rosewood board for 20 lessons (which puts it at $600). It's very sweet but I've already spoken with a luthier about adding a J pickup. I keep going back and forth, but the Jaco sound made such an imprint in my head and the fretless P sound is pretty different. The reason for my indecisiveness is that it's a 50th Anniversary model (in '96 they did this to celebrate 50 years of Fender). It's very, very nice and seemed like a lot of care went into making it, so I hate to start hacking away at it..

    What do you guys think? Should I or shouldn't I?
  10. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I would have to go with the jazz. The difference being the more tonal variations you can get from the two pups compared to the split pup of the pbass. Soloed with the bridge pup gives you a much clearer more stacato sound, the neck pup soloed sounds much smoother. The jazz can sound very close to the pbass but not vise-versa
  11. BassMann2112


    Jun 21, 2002
    I have a 59 Jazz, Eboney frettless fretboard and love it. It is a 2 pc walnut body, and it weighs more than my Les Paul Custom.
  12. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I would say a P&J style bass would be an excellent
  13. I have 2 Fender fretless P's and a Fender fretless Jazz, Of one of the P basses is a semi-hollow it has active electronics, standard P style pickups and also has a piezo under the wood bridge. It sounds way better than my Jazz by a long shot. The other P is a 77 fretless maple board that looks really sweet but doesn't have that fretlessy mwah sound to it.....
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    '59 Jazz? Walnut body? Got any pictures?
  15. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    How about this,get another P body and transfer everything to it,including the J pickup, and save the original body.I know ,its a dumb idea,but you may regret altering a future collectors piece.On the other hand its a drag not to be able to get the sound you want.
  16. i'll throw in a vote for P. my fretless is a P/J but i only really use the P pickup soloed. just a matter of taste.
  17. jbucklin


    Oct 24, 2001
    dancehallclasher, I'm glad to hear that. I think many of us have a preconception in our heads of what a fretless is supposed to sound like, because of the Jaco influence, which could be viewed as being a "dated" sound. I still keep going back and forth though. I need more "pro-fretless-P-posts!"

    I'm listening to Mick Karn right now, who I believe plays a Wal fretless. His sound definitely has more of a P vibe to it. The album, BTW, is "Ism" by Jansen, Barbieri and Karn (JBK), which is Japan without David Sylvian. It's a beautifully dark and contemporary recording and was released in '99. It also has David Torn on guitar(!).
  18. i put in my vote for a P
    theres a pic of mine below
    Custom maple fingerbaord, nylon wound strings, DiMarzio P'up, gives a very mellow upright vibe


    all the stickers are off now, they were on b4 it was made fretless. its recently undergone a 'Shielding' operation :)
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Subjective question. Your opinion is more important than any of ours. But you asked, so: I prefer the Precision. Sounds fatter; as you mentioned, sounds closer to an upright.
  20. go for a PJ!
    I have a SX Jazz that i made fretless. The pickups are crap, so i've to change them, but i'd definitely go for the PJ setup instead of the JJ