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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / To Fretless Or Not To...

Contributing Member

These days Common

Sense Is A Superpower
Apr 26th, 2017 07:46 AM   Edit   Profile  

...That is the question.

Do I REALLY need one?
4 string only. Purely for a fumble fingered bedroom player. Or is this just another GAS attack?



New York City

Apr 26th, 2017 09:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

I'd say it's worth a try. They sure have a unique sound.

Some people take to playing fretless like they were born for it. Not so much for me but I'm glad I gave it a shot.

If you go for it, decide if you want one with "fret" lines or not. There are arguments for and against.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Apr 26th, 2017 10:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

Oh, yeah, you need one. Lined fretless makes it easier to play in tune. Flatwounds are virtually mandatory.

I built this one (link) as a lark, but ended up playing it more than my fretted bass.

lined fretless

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 12:05 PM, Apr 26th, 2017)

Contributing Member

Show Low, Arizona

Bottom Sucker
Apr 26th, 2017 10:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

Yes, definitely worth learning. I use the lined fretless with Thomastik flats. Awesome sound.

Contributing Member

North of Philly

Solid state = solid sound+light weight
Apr 26th, 2017 11:51 AM   Edit   Profile  

Currently have 9 basses, 4 freted, 5 fretless.

Seems for the last couple of years I only play the fretless ones.

Mine are all lined because 4 are ones I converted, and the manufacturer of my acoustic uses the same fretboard for both, puts binding material in the slots on fretless.

As to strings, my current choice is LaBella white Nylon Tape Wound. Plenty of zing if you want it, and not as stiff as flats. There are a couple of new flavors since I bought.

I got mine here!

Contributing Member

Snohomish WA USA

Look at Them Beans!
Apr 26th, 2017 01:23 PM   Edit   Profile  

Certainly a fun addition to consider. You'll find yourself listening a lot more clearly, and hearing all the parts is definitely helpful!

My preference is unlined as I find I'm not looking at the neck, but feeling the notes much better. It allows for some more creativity once you get the feel.


Long Island City, NY

Apr 26th, 2017 04:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

I started on string bass and have often considered getting a fretless. I'd prefer lined but often wondered whether that was "cheating." :)

Contributing Member

Lower Slobovia

Pass me the onions..Yeah, the green ones
Apr 26th, 2017 09:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

I had an unlined fretless for a while. It was fun and frankly, I think it improved my ear and my playing. I've got a lined one now. Go for it!

(This message was last edited by iammr2 at 11:47 PM, Apr 26th, 2017)

L. Nedmundo


Apr 28th, 2017 03:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

They're really fun to play, so why not? If you think you'd use it, I say go for it.

I had a fretless for awhile, which had an MIM Precision body and MIM fretless Jazz neck, with an American Series Precision pickup. I slapped some Chromes on there, and it sounded fantastic. I enjoyed playing it too.

Thing is, I only play out in rock bands, so I never used it beyond experimenting in rehearsal. As the collection grew to unsustainable levels, some needed to go, so I parted it out.

If I ever join a cover band that plays a wide range of material, I'd like to get another, probably an active five string J, or maybe a G&L M-2500. (I have a fretted M-2500, and it would make an AWESOME fretless.)



Bass is the place . . .
Apr 28th, 2017 10:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

About five years ago I bought a Fender fretless neck, and put it on a Jazz bass for an "Adult Contemporary" band I was playing in for a while.

I have two primary memories of the experience.

1. I had to work a LOT harder and concentrate a lot more in playing fretless than I do when playing fretted.

2. I thought I was doing okay with intonation, until I listened to an audio recording of a gig. OMG . . .

I took the fretless neck off the Jazz bass the next day. It's been in my closet ever since.

YMMV . . .

FDP Data Goon

We all want

our time in hell
Apr 29th, 2017 06:53 AM   Edit   Profile  

I want a fretless Bass VI, so I'd say..sure.

Contributing Member

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 2nd, 2017 07:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

Fretless, yes. All my early instruments were fretless the violin, cello and upright.

I go back and forth, rarely do I bring more than one bass to a gig or rehearsal. Some time in the late 90s I started playing fretless again. The first bass I made was fretless and I played it exclusivly for about 6 years.

Now a days I use all of them, I have ten, five of each, The least used bass is the Guild B-50, it's fretless, it's also the only fretless I didn't make. None of my fretless are lined. I don't have a problem with lines other than personal aesthetics, the side of the neck position markers at the point of intonation is enough for me.

Most of the time I feel intonation is better on the fretless, fretted instruments, even with excellent set ups start sounding a little off to me up around the 9th fret or so, it's close, it could even be my imagination. Yeah I'll hit an off note occasionally on a fretless but it's rare and more of an indication that the bass needs tuned, it's easy to make the compensation adjustment, on the fretted ones I'd have to pull the string into intonation and tune on the fly.

I've been known to call frets speed bumps. Occasionally hitting a wrong note on a fretless is not as noticeable as doing so on a fretted instrument, particularly in a passing phrase, a half step is a lot farther off than a slight miss, which is easily covered with a light finger vibrato "o)

They're all fun, man, I love the bass.

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member

Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
May 2nd, 2017 09:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

At my last church, where I played 3 times a week, I ended up using my unlined fretless 5 about 90% of the time. I got really comfortable on it very quickly.

One Sunday, I got called in to an emergency at work, just before the service. One of the guitar players, who had previously fooled around on a cheap 4 string bass at home said he'd sit in on bass. He had never played a 5 or a fretless.

I got back just after the end of the service. He said it went well. He relied on the side markers, ignored the B string and said it was actually a lot easier than he thought it would be.

I like unlined. I find a lined board disconcerting. I do rely on the side markers, but listen intently.

Contributing Member

These days Common

Sense Is A Superpower
May 11th, 2017 01:53 PM   Edit   Profile  

Well....finally went and did it.

more on arrival.....

This One Is On The Way (w/hard case)

Contributing Member

Snohomish WA USA

Look at Them Beans!
May 11th, 2017 05:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

Well, that is really a beauty. I've never seen this model, or even thought of that style as potentially fretless. Have a blast and let us know how it all works out.

Jeff Scott

On a spinning rock

May 11th, 2017 08:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

Fretless opens a whole new world of musical expression. Go for it.

1997 ZON Sonus Special 5 fretless:


Rick Turner RB5-FL:


Contributing Member

These days Common

Sense Is A Superpower
May 11th, 2017 09:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

Super...well this one sorta does the Two Birds thing. I was dithering about going fretless AND wanting a Fiddle bass so.............


FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / To Fretless Or Not To...

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