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Why do roundwound strings wear on fretless basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by trothwell, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Why do roundwound strings wear so much on fretless basses over fretted?

    When I play on a fretted bass, the fret is dividing the string, but I am still pressing the string against the wood in between frets. Would that not damage the wood just as much as on a fretless?

    Or is it specific playing techniques that cause damage on a fretless? String bending rather than vibrato, perhaps?
  2. SlingBass4


    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    Ruffles have rrridges :p
  3. If you're pressing against the wood on a fretted bass, you're doing it wrong.
  4. JYBass


    Jun 6, 2012
    +1 Noice! :bassist:

  5. bootsox


    Apr 28, 2012
    Biloxi, MS
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA

    Minor wear on a fretless fingerboard should be no big concern. If you are concerned then you can coat the fingerboard (or switch to flats).
  7. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I take it that it is atypical for the string to touch the wood of the fingerboard on a fretted bass?
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I personally press down with my left-hand finger almost on top of the fret using the lightest of touch. YMMV. A good teacher can help you with this.
  9. Mehve


    Jun 2, 2012
    Kitchener, ON
    Yes. It may touch the wood lightly, but the vast majority of the pressure should be on the fret itself.

    Aside from the wasted effort and increase wear on the wood, pressing down too hard is bad for another reason - you'll actually pull the string tighter and alter the pitch. Try this sometime - fret a note and alter the pressure between light and hard, and listen closely. You'll actually hear the note change slightly because of how hard it's bent over the fret.
  10. dalahorse


    Apr 14, 2010
    +1 to this technique
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Why do roundwound strings wear on fretless basses?

    uhh ... because they are ROUNDwound ...

    Look at the string ... then look at your fretboard ... it is kind of obvious ...
  12. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    This question just occurred to me this evening, and I asked it without experimenting first. In my mind I assumed the string must be touching the fingerboard. I just tried it, and lo, only with extreme force can I make the string touch the fingerboard.

  13. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The vibrating part of the string touches the fret, not the wood even if you have very small frets and a heavy touch. On a fretless the strings are vibrating against the wood.

    Don't worry about it though. Most fretless wear attributed to roundwound strings can be alleviated with good technique. Don't use any more force with either hand than absolutely necessary. Don't bend strings across the finger board. Keep your strings, hands, and finger board clean.

  14. DrSpunkwater


    Sep 17, 2012
    You must be new to playing bass.
  15. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    One thing I learned from playing fretless that translated to playing a fretted bass is to press just behind the fret for the note you're going for.

    Still though, I wouldn't think there should be much wear on a fretted fingerboard since the string is only vibrating after the fret, unless you're playing a note vibrato.

    Anyway, I've been using rounds on my unfinished ebony fingerboard fretless for 6 years, only wear I have are ghost marks,
  16. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars