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Who Uses a Fretless as Their Main Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by freshmeat1989, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. Fretless bass has me intrigued lately, and I love the tone Les Claypool gets from his fretlesses (yeah I know, Les Claypool is Les Claypool) and was wondering if fretless bass could possibly be for me. Right now for my next bass, it's inbetween a Warwick Thumb 5 fretted or fretless.

    One concern I have is that I seem to get the impression that fretlesses are only good for certain things, and that they can't do a lot of things.

    Does the fact that they are fretless take away any versatility? Are they as versatile as fretted basses. What are the disadvantages of fretless (not technique-wise)? Why don't you see many people using fretlesses?
    (I don't really know how to word what I'm trying to say)

    Does anyone here use a fretless as their main gigging bass? If so, what kind of bass is it and what kind of music do you play, and could you do many different styles with fretless?

    P.S. I am not trying for Claypools tone, he just spiked my curiosity, along with me seeing P-Nut from 311 using a Thumb 5 fretless. But I am not trying to cop anyones tone.
  2. I use a fretless as a main bass. I find them to be more versatile than a fretted, since you can do everything a fretted can and more. I think you might not see a lot of people using fretlesses because a lot of people don't feel a reason to go fretless because they can play all they need to on a fretted, or they just don't want to play fretless.

    My bass is a Cort Artisan B4fl, and I'm making another custom bass (Along with it's fretted twin) to become it's successor. I play in a funk-metal-rock-punk band, and I play a lot of jazz at home and it works great in all of these settings. I'm not sure that you'd be able to get Claypool's tone though...
  3. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Jaco does.

    That's enough reason for me! Seriously though, my friend's day has 2 fretlesses that he uses.
  4. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I use my fretless 90% of the time. I haven't even brought my fretted to a gig (not that I've had many :meh: ) in over a year. I play mostly rock stuff. My last band was a DMB typed thing and the one before that was an angry drop D thing.
  5. WJF


    Aug 1, 2005
    I had a fretted 4 string Peavey Patriot, that I turned into a fretless 5, just to see if it would work. It did, the neck was straight as an arrow and was my main bass for a few years. Like a dumbass, I sold it...

    Like Paul Simonon said, they are extremely versatile. You can even jam with a slightly out of tune instrument, just by changing your finger positions. Works well in "open mic night" situations.
  6. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    IMO yes, a fretless can be your main bass. For about 3 years I played nothing but a fretless P-Bass with a P/J setup. I played classic rock, blues, and some country at that time. My intonation wasn't the best at first but it got dramtically better over time.

    - Art
  7. Hrothgar

    Hrothgar Guest

    Sep 22, 2003
    FYI, Claypool stopped using fretlesses live b/c he looked back on some live recordings and found that he often slipped on his intonation. He might still use them for recording, I don't know.

    I don't a lot of experience on fretless, but I was wonder from somebody who has, can you still slap and pop a fretless and get near the same attack?

    BTW, my bass instructor has a mike lull fretless that is just absolutely amazing to play. Thin, fast neck, sweet low action.
  8. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Search around Talkbass... search around the web... PM him if you need to... but you MUST check out Michael Manring slap his fretless Zon!
  9. patonbass


    Jul 24, 2005
    about 4 months ago i took my jazz bass, yanked the frets, opened up the slots with a file, filled them with some birch colored filler, and exoxied the board. it has been my only since. after playing that beast for so long, picking up my fretted carvin is restricting, limited and generaly boring :smug:. i love it so much that i have major GAS for an american jazz just so i can yank the frets on a bass thats worth something.... fretless is freedom! :)
  10. Bazzist


    Dec 7, 2002
    Nova Scotia
    Well almost everything... slapping doesn't always sound that good. But fretless is hella fun man, take the leap.
  11. I play everything on a fretless bass except for when I play in the marching band (Yeah, I play electric bass for marching band.) because then its just easier to use the schools fretted Squier

    I started off slow, using the fretless every 3rd day or something like that. But then it just gradually became the only bass I play. I haven't picked up my fretted bass in months.
  12. Since I don't slap, Im using my fretless jazz as main axe. It's fun. If only I could find someone who does epoxy stuff in sweden/countries nearby.
  13. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    In 3 out of the 5 bands I work with I play strictly fender fretless or EUB. We play original rock (one band does a few covers - NRBQ, Hendrix) - I use effects on it and love it.
    It's me.

    I don't slap it though. That would be rude. :D
  14. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    :smug: well only if it complains :bassist:
  15. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    Fretless rules! Do it!
  16. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004
    i play my bnf6 as my main
  17. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I was exclusively fretless for 10 years until about 4 months ago. I used two fretless basses: one set up for mwah and one not, the latter being the main bass. I do mostly classic rock covers, some blues and some jazz. I didn't find the mwah sound appealing for classic rock covers.
  18. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I play a carvin lb75f for all my worship/gospel gigs. I almost never bring a fretted bass for those kind of gigs. However in my rock band, I have to have a fretted bass, it just has more attack. If however I had a frettless with an epoxy board or just changed over to a new set of stainless steel bright strings, I could probably get the attack I want. I just like the tone of dead strings and a plain ebony board. (the active eq and MM humbucker in the bridge makes up for the dead strings, and hence the bass just sings and dripps mwahhhh.)

    As for slapping, you will never get the metal on metal bite that a fretted bass will give you, and slapping on a frettless can wear down a fretboard very quickly.

    Hope this helps.
  19. JAL


    Dec 15, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I use my Corvette Std. fretless nearly 99 percent of the time. I find the sound, expressiveness and versatility just perfect. I dont do much slap however...on the occasions that I do i use my fretted.
  20. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I do ... also have a GT-7 that I never play anymore.

    My main bass is a modified fretless Jazz (MM pickup in the neck, BEAD tuning). It works well for everything.

    I do think they are more versitile than a fretted, if only because the slides sound better. Slapping sounds just as good.