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Why are there not more UNlined fretless necks?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Muddslide, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    I don't see many fretless basses that come stock with unlined necks. Why?

    Now, I know a lot of high-end/boutique/custom jobs have blank necks, but I really dislike the fretlines.

    Actually, does anyone know of a company that makes a Fender P-style fretless neck that is unlined and has a maple fingerboard?

    I don't know. I am sure not the world's most proficient fretless player but the lines just throw me. Don't care for the looks of them either.
  2. Goatman


    Aug 19, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    strangely enough, I kind of agree with you. I play fretted most of the time and I also have a lined fretless that I toy around with and I swear that those lines make me search with my eyes more than my ears. It's good for planning riffs and such (and helped me out when I first picked up the fretless) but they are kinda distracting once you start grooving.

    How about a compromise - make the lines on a fretless less pronounced, ie. use a mellow color that is a couple shades off from the neck. That way, you can have the lines if you really need to focus on them but they wont be jumping out at you when you're playing normally.

    Think a custom stain job could do the trick?
  3. nickn


    Oct 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
  4. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    To answer the why question - It's proabably a question of inventory, and production management. When I was after a kubicki fretless (rare beasts), I was told that Phil had no fretless necks available at that time, and it would be a few months before they were available. The necks were all manaufactured and cut in a batch on a CAD/CAM machine and they'd already got the frets cut in. Obviously for a small/custom builder like Phil he can stop the machine before it cuts the slots especially for one customer (and probably keeps a few like that back in each run just in case), but it require special effort, and waiting for the next batch. However he COULD easily take one of the fretted neck blanks (which of course had never actually had frets in), and fill the slots to make a lined fretless.

    In the end I got a used Kubicki fretless that's unlined. It looks cool!
  5. hey


    Jul 8, 2006
    This. A Fender replacement neck with a maple fretless unlined board goes for $167.
  6. sps500

    sps500 In Memoriam

    May 19, 2008
    Fender Tony Franklin P Bass!!!:)
  7. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    Ooh! Didn't know about that model. Looks killer, though I lean towards a P or a J more than a P/J.

    And I prefer maple necks. Although while I've owned and played several fretless basses, I don't believe i've ever played aone with a maple board. I'd really like to try that.

    Oh, and I will probably never have $1500 to spend on a bass. If I get that spendy, it's gonna be on amp and effects gear a bit at a time.
  8. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Forget to post a link or pic there, hey? :smug:

    Anyway, the reason, I think, is simply demand: More bassists in the market for a production (rather than a custom) fretless bass want a lined fretboard. The (relative) few who want unlined also tend to want custom, semi-custom, or boutique-level instruments anyway, and since fretless is harder to learn, they tend to be older & can afford custom or semi-custom/boutique, too, so it works out all around.

    People forget that the big companies like Fender, etc do not just make basses *they* like: They make basses that people will buy. They do market research and polls and prototypes, etc, to see what people think. They also discontinue models & features that aren't selling well. It's not an accident that few companies make production-level unlined fretless necks. Few people want them.
  9. I played my first fretless ever about a month ago. It was an unlined Warwick of some kind. I was actually surprised by how easy it was to navigate. I mean, you've got the dots on the side to help you out. And if you practice properly, you don't need to watch the fretboard when you play anyhow.
  10. P6050091.



    Westone Thunder IIIa. Nice.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Ahhh nostalgia! I had a fretless Thunder IIIa - just like that in the 80s as my main bass in pop/rock bands - I wanted to sound like Mick Karn!! :p

    Unfortunately mine got damaged on the way to a recording session and never sounded as good again...:(
  12. FrankBlankPlank


    Aug 27, 2008

    Fender must have made them in the 70's at some point, or I wouldn't have my CIJ 70's re-issue now.
  13. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    this is an old pic of an old fender p-bass i had.. this was my first frettless it came unlined...

    I very much prefer unlined, the lines confuse me...

  14. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I can't stand lined fretless, but I really love having side marker lines with the dots in the normal place.

  15. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    even that is weird to me I think...

    I personally prefer the dots where the lines should go...

  16. manutabora


    Aug 14, 2007
    Iowa City, IA
    I have a brice five string fretless with an unlined maple fretboard that I got from another TB'er. You should browse through rondomusic, maybe you can find what you want.
  17. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    Yes, my '76 Fender P is unlined one piece maple neck (no fingerboard glued on) :)
  18. Thangfish

    Thangfish ...overly qualified for janitorical deployment...

    That's a beauty. Got a full length picture handy?
  19. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    I sing lead & play fretless bass quite a bit of the time. The lined necks drive me nuts. It's confusing to me. Just put the side dots ON the notes & make them big enough to see. The lines are for guys who think they need them before they actually buy & play a fretless. They are kinda like training wheels on a bike. The real deal is you have to listen to play in tune. Once you get used to it it's no big thing.
  20. Yup, they can slot all basses and fill a handful of the slots without having to do much extra work. People assume that lines are easier, so it kinda works out that way.

    Why no maple? Cuz it's too soft without a poly/epoxy finish. The finishing adds a few extra steps, which cuts profit. Acrylized maple is available, but a tad more expensive and probably not in adequate enough supply for a company like Fender. In the long run, I've heard that synthetic and semi-synthetic fingerboards can be pretty hard on the tools.


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