1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Your fretless experience?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 6stringvince, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. I've been thinking about a first fretless (I've been in the planning stage of a build), but I can't help but wonder if it's not just a GAS attack, I'd hate to waste a bunch of time and money on something I might not stick with, especially with a fretless build, probably hard to get your money back on a sale.
    Just wondering what the majority consensus is on your own fretless experience, has it been fretless for ever, or been there, done that, and no thanks?
    Thanks for any input
  2. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    Here's my advice: build it without markers. Try to get used to it. If you don't like it, fret it.
  3. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    Maybe look for a used fretless to buy/try? If you like it, keep it and build your own or sell it for about the same you bought it for to fund the one you build. If you don't like it, just sell it and it's like it never happened other than you experienced it.
  4. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    You could buy a Mighty Mite fretless P neck, put it on a loaded body you like, and play it a while. If you don't like it, you can always sell the neck on the TB Classifieds, and you'll probably only be out a few bucks. If you like it, either keep playing it, or build a really nice one.

    I did this a couple of years back, and I'm still playing an SX/Mighty Mite fretless. It's really a pretty nice instrument for very little scratch.
  5. Probably a good approach, but would the lack of markers or lines make it that much harder to learn?
  6. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    I tried fretless once and absolutely loved it. I'll always have at least one fretless. Usually I'll own more fretlesses than fretted ones.
  7. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Makes you rely more on your ears without, the first weeks will be harder but after a month or so your ears will be good enough to not need the markers. It will then become easier to play, especially when you play in a dim club where you couldnt see the markers anyway and must rely on your ears
  8. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    I like unlined fretless boards, but with side dots. I'm no fretless whiz, but I have never found it all that difficult, either.
  9. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    I just got my first fretless a few months ago, a custom 6-string (with fretlines). So I dived right into the deep end with my first fretless.

    And you know what? I love it. It's a great bass and I've been playing bass since 1984 but suddenly having a fretless opens up whole new ways of playing and improving my technique that I could never do before on a fretted bass.

    If you are a serious bassist and really want to improve and expand your playing on the instrument, I think a fretless bass is a must have.
  10. penguineman


    Feb 11, 2012
    I love my fretless I've got 3 and a fretless neck for a project bass so I can put together another fretless. I have both lined and lineless but prefer the lined fretboards. the lineless is just 2 hard to get off of the persay fretted area if that sounds correct then of course your off on your note. I did go in and mark the side of the neck on the unlined neck where every fret would be but it's still kinda a pain and you really have to watch to make sure your just perfect when playing. I line both my freted and fretless Basses. it just depends on the sound and what I feel like playing that day. hope this helps.
  11. This, particularly if you have good ears.
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I've played double bass since 1992 and FL electric since 1999. Double bass, while more difficult than FL electric, has some markers that help ground your intonation without markers, such as neck bout (either a D neck or an Eb neck - with reference to notes on the G string), while FL electric does not.

    Now, I'm going to make a point that is likely to be mis-interpreted: lined FL's are annoying. Not because of some macho thing, but because, in normal playing position, I can't see 90% of my board. I use side dots in conjunction with my ears. The advantage over lined boards is this: a lined board tends to have side dots (if it has them at all) at the same position as on a fretted bass. Thus, you need not only to recognize the side dot position, you then have to correct for true intonation relative to the "mis-aligned" side dot. Too much damn thinking!

    Just give me side dots at 5, octave, and 17, and I'd be good. But most FL's give more than that which is OK. On the other hand, I have a lovely April; '73 Rickenbacker 4001FL, but it has side dots at every note position. Arrgh. Talk about too much information. I love everything about that bass except the side dots, so I use white out to obliterate the unnecessary side dots.

    Point being, use your ears, but add the necessary markers to aid in that.
  13. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    For me I hated fretless.I could not get it right and had to stare down the dang fretboard.I took it back a week later and the band was happy I did.
  14. Unlined is easy as long as you can hear yourself clearly. If you're on a noisy stage or move to the other side where you can't hear your bass well, it makes more sense to have lined for a backup. No one says you actually have to look at the lines.
    My main bass is a Fender Jazz fretless with a lined fretboard. While I don't need to look at my hands or the fretboard for intonation, there have been times where the stage volume (drummer and guitar player) got out of hand and it helped to have them. :) YMMV
  15. playing 4 string P's and J's for years,thought I would try an
    Ibanez sr505 fretless= fail

    -didn't like the string spacing(was tighter)
    -interesting sound-loved the tone of those passive Barts
    -seldom found use for the low B
    -had to restring it with new flats I had lying
    around,purchased a lowB string $18.50!

    would swap it for another P or J if anyones interested:)

    best of luck in your quest:)
  16. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    I just put my fretless Martin Keith Elfin 5 down 5 minutes ago. I've been playing fretless since I heard Unorthodox Behavior when it first came out; I pulled the frets out of my '72 Telecaster Bass and have not looked back (although I have had quite a few fretless basses since then) I currently have two, the Elfin 5 and a Rick Turner RB4FL. I've had a Yamaha BX-5 and and '84 Alembic Exploiter converted to fretless and I have had two Zon fretless basses. I also used to have a Rick Turner RB5FL. It takes more than a week to become even somewhat okay on a fretless, so unlike the poster above, give it time!

    I too, am in the unlined with just enough side dots camp, but that comes down to personal preference in the end; if you can, try it both ways and decide for yourself. :cool:
  17. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003

    70% of all my playing is fretless.
    I've loved fretless since I got my first one back in the 70's.
    I own both lined and unlined basses. I find unlined easier
    to play. But if your in a loud Band and your stage monitor is bad, lines is better if you can't hear yourself. You have option to use your eyes.
    Give it a try you may like it.
  18. Ha, ha, I feel like I should be put on salary by ESP the amount I've been talking my ESP LTS B205SMFL up! It was $420 Cdn. shipped, sounds awesome (especially after I put nylon tapewounds on it). I wouldn't advise buying one though, because if you have as much fun as I've been having with this, you might start looking for a higher end model! gases to gases, dust to dust....

    Attached Files:

  19. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    always come back to 'lined or unlined'

    it's hilarious

    the die hard 'no lines guys' are ALL about the look and shouldn't bother playing music

    when you can't hear yourself lines mean a LOT

    I know - played pro, always fretless, for 35+ yrs

    I own about 18 EBs - all but 2 are fretless - all high-end and vintage + DBs, EUBs, etc. etc. - some lined, some not

    sometimes you need a reference - no matter how good your ears - the louder the situation the more important

    if you're more worried about how it looks than the music, well....
  20. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    Sometimes lines are helpful for the look so your other bandmates/leaders don't get confused/scared.