Fretless bass recommendations

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khakifridge
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Post by khakifridge » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:49 am

There's flat and there's flat... The first bass I ever laid hands on (40 years ago) was a mate's piece of sh!te, short scale, action a mile high and flats. These were the overlapping tape variety: smooth (sorta) in one direction, but carved the skin off your fingers in the other.

Fast-forward a couple of decades: I have Status flatwounds on my Status fretless. They are totally smooth: like a baby's rear-end. A joy to play and still with a remarkable amount of top end (though admittedly the carbon-fibre neck helps in that department). And they last forever.

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GovernorSilver
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Post by GovernorSilver » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:58 pm

Ramases wrote: I've never used flatwound strings. Apart from how they are made, what is the difference in terms of playability and sound?
I can't improve on Mr. Cat's post regarding flatwounds and nylons.

I heard the same concerns about using roundwounds on wooden fingerboards - they might eat away at the fingerboard then you'll have to replace the fingerboard, if not the neck. :woah:

However, roundwound strings are your ticket to that vocal-like tone made famous by Jaco and Mick Karn (totally different style than Jaco but similar tone).

Jaco's solution to the fingerboard problem was to coat his fingerboard with epoxy - the same kind used on boats. He also spent most of his private practice time on a fretted bass, reserving his fretless time for recording and gigs. Bass guitar makers since have followed his lead - a bunch of them coat the fingerboard. You will have to recoat the fingerboard from time to time if you go this route.

Another solution is to use a fingerboard that is much harder than wood. Basses made with composite materials like Status fall under this category.

Yet another solution is to try Elixir coated roundwounds. This worked well for me during the brief time I had a fretless bass.

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e3p0
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Post by e3p0 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:34 pm

I think Jaco's board was epoxied, but because of the voids left from pulling out his own frets, but a good point nonetheless.

Similarly I never liked Rotosound stainless strings on account of stainless being harder material than my fretwire. Nickel wound like Daddario or Ernie Ball is much softer.

That said, ebony and rosewood are hard woods. have not seen many maple board fretless, but maple is hard too.

Bridge pickup, round wounds on a fretless is a thing of beauty. As I said before, you can always roll the tone knob and muffle the treble/ mids, but cannot get close to that sound with flats.

A P-bass (or Jazz type with only the neck pickup on) with flats sound upright-ish. Not a bad sound indeed, but not Jaco either.

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MrTurboparrot
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Post by MrTurboparrot » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:49 pm

The Warwick Rockbass fretless series are good - and can be had at a real bargain.

I actually have a Vintage V940fl, which is a better bass in my view - Bubinga wood, and better, straighter neck.

the rockbass necks are mahogany, which are harder and therefore better for roundwounds.

I also had a squier fretless jazz... was fun, but it wasn't a wood neck. Was some strange material (i forget the name).
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Post by casterbro » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:08 am

tdutz wrote:I've got a Cort B4FL that I'm quite happy with as a fairly inexpensive fretless option. I got mine used ten years ago and it cost right around $350.
+1 bought one new many years ago and really love it! My others fretted are a lot more expensive but still dig my Cort!

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Post by timmcg » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:53 pm

Some may scoff at this but it's true.

I'm the original owner of a 1973 Rickenbacker 4001 mapleglow fretted bass & love it. Everyone who hears it swears it sounds like Jaco. I agree.

About thirty years ago I tried a sitar for the first time & was surprised that its buzzy characteristic sound came from having a super wide bridge, meaning the string doesn't rest on a narrow point but lays across this wide piece of bone, touching & rubbing an area of about an inch. When I got home I picked up my Rick & looked at the bridge with a new perspective. Rick basses have a foam mute that you can raise or lower by twisting two knobs. So I turned them until they were high enough to just touch the strings. Voila! I've left it that way for years. If I want to return it to its original sound I just give the knobs a tweak. The only downside is that I can't do a glissando like you can on a fretless.

I use Elixer round wounds on it.

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Post by Parmesan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:57 am

The best fretless I've enjoyed the most was by Veillette Guitars. It had a solid body with a piezo bridge. Tape-wound strings. The tone was a very unique blend of earthly and airy, very organic. I had it only for a short time but I enjoyed every moment with it. Definitely it wasn't an entry level instrument. More of a goal.
Rob Allen and Rick Turners basses that I tried felt somewhat close but I think I'd pick a Veillette if I could afford it again.

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Post by mateo » Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:50 am

Squire's got a fretless jazz bass model that I've been thinking of picking up, looks quite nice!

http://shop.fender.com/en/intl/0306608500.html

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Post by timmcg » Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:36 pm

timmcg wrote:Some may scoff at this but it's true.

I'm the original owner of a 1973 Rickenbacker 4001 mapleglow fretted bass & love it. Everyone who hears it swears it sounds like Jaco. I agree.

About thirty years ago I tried a sitar for the first time & was surprised that its buzzy characteristic sound came from having a super wide bridge, meaning the string doesn't rest on a narrow point but lays across this wide piece of bone, touching & rubbing an area of about an inch. When I got home I picked up my Rick & looked at the bridge with a new perspective. Rick basses have a foam mute that you can raise or lower by twisting two knobs. So I turned them until they were high enough to just touch the strings. Voila! I've left it that way for years. If I want to return it to its original sound I just give the knobs a tweak. The only downside is that I can't do a glissando like you can on a fretless.

I use Elixer round wounds on it.

Cheers,

Timothy
I've never quoted myself on here before but there's always a first time.

Here's a short sample I recorded earlier of my Rickenbacker 4002 bass with the foam mute brought up to rub against the strings. The first half of the sample is without chorus and the second half has chorus on it.

Cheers,

Timothy
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Post by DubRules » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:16 pm

If you dont care about looks, just dig the frets out of a cheap bass. Its not as hard as you think and the results are the same thing you would pay a lot more for. Alternately, just buy a new fretless neck for a bass you already own. Fretless is fun, but Im glad I didnt invest heavily in it. I use mine for a buzzy sliding bass noise and it works well..!

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Post by bafonso » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:58 am

Plenty of cheap jazz squires. Most people abandon fretless once they realize how hard it can be so don't spend a lot. Just make sure action is ok.

For a good deal, the japanese jazz basses are pretty good, come up often on talk bass and eBay.

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Post by mateo » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:02 pm

Just picked up the Squire vintage modified fretless and I'm loving it so far! Pickups need to be upgraded though, too much hum...

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Post by bandwidth » Tue May 23, 2017 8:57 pm

I would say that Squire basses are a decent place to start. My first fretless was a Fender Jazz, Made In Japan, that was a nice bass except for the neck. It was the crappiest neck I've ever experienced. I put a Warmoth fretless neck on it and it became a wonderful bass. The best fretless bass guitars I've owned are Alembic Excel basses, I've had a 4 and 5 string. They are startling in their responsiveness. I've used TI Jazz Flats on them. I've got an Eastwood EUB fretless that has Rickenbacker pickups and Alembic round wound strings on it. Talk about gnarly, aggressive sound!

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Post by hippo1 » Wed May 24, 2017 11:57 am

I took a chance recently with the new Squire fretless P-style, with the synthetic (Ebonol?) neck... It's great! Cool midrange growl (different, obviously, from the countless J-bass pickups)... And you can't kill the fretboard! I'm all smiles about my cheapest bass ever!

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Post by strat_barrett » Fri May 26, 2017 9:36 am

I have a Japanese Fender Jazz FL, it's lovely, plays as well as the USA Jaco tribute. Nylon flat wounds are great too, growly and smooth all at once

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Post by bandwidth » Tue May 30, 2017 8:21 pm

hippo1 wrote:I took a chance recently with the new Squire fretless P-style, with the synthetic (Ebonol?) neck... It's great! Cool midrange growl
About 20 years ago, I had an old P bass body that I put a fretless neck on and I agree, it's an interesting and different growl. Enjoy that P bass!

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Post by Sinamsis » Tue May 30, 2017 8:56 pm

I meant to post on this thread earlier, but I got side-tracked. It's funny timing as I've seriously been considering a fretless bass. The bassist from Yeasayer plays a fretless G&L (more so on older albums) and I found his playing truly inspiring. That first piqued my interest in a fretless. I have a Warmoth Jazzmaster on the way. If that goes well, I think I might either build a fretless Warmoth, or maybe just replace my the neck on my MIM Jazz Bass.

Any preference on active VS passive pickups for fretless? Or humbuckers? In general, I find the low hum on my single coils kind of annoying. Tolerable. But annoying.

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Post by mateo » Wed May 31, 2017 8:04 pm

Sinamsis wrote:I meant to post on this thread earlier, but I got side-tracked. It's funny timing as I've seriously been considering a fretless bass. The bassist from Yeasayer plays a fretless G&L (more so on older albums) and I found his playing truly inspiring. That first piqued my interest in a fretless. I have a Warmoth Jazzmaster on the way. If that goes well, I think I might either build a fretless Warmoth, or maybe just replace my the neck on my MIM Jazz Bass.

Any preference on active VS passive pickups for fretless? Or humbuckers? In general, I find the low hum on my single coils kind of annoying. Tolerable. But annoying.
I'm about to put in a pair of Dimarzio Area Js in mine, which are humless single coils. Seems to me to be the simplest way to go.

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Post by EMwhite » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:26 pm

I picked up a scratch & dent Jazz Bass body from Stratosphere and bought a CIJ fretless rosewood neck from ebay; it even has the strap peg on the headstock (I never understood why/where this came from).

Added a pair of pickups, chrome plate and controls and the copper strap for posterity.

Looks great, plays incredible but with Roto round wounds, the neck won't last so I'm contemplating the resin treatment. For now it's just hanging up next to my Piano. I pick it up every few months for a few minutes.

I also have a Tony Franklin custom shop / prototype (the original from the press pics, that I purchased from one of the guys at Fender [the Product mgr. at the time]).

Needless to say, I can't play either well; maybe someday before I perish. More gear than talent here.
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Post by GovernorSilver » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:34 am

Sinamsis wrote: Any preference on active VS passive pickups for fretless? Or humbuckers? In general, I find the low hum on my single coils kind of annoying. Tolerable. But annoying.
I had a lovely fretless bass that was originally fretted and came with an active pickup system. I kept the active system after having it converted to fretless. I thought it sounded pretty good.

Then again, I also liked the stock passive single coils on the Fender Geddy Lee Jazz bass that I later owned. I don't remember the hum - probably because of the memories of my old bandmates doing things with it overrode that detail - one broke strings with her hard picking style, another used it to blow up his guitar amp speakers - yep, he really didn't know you're not supposed to do that.

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Get a Fender

Post by rupect » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:54 pm

I've got an AVRI '62 Jazz bass that just kills. I don't really play fretless, and it sounds and plays so good I often consider putting frets on it so I'd play it more, but it's such a killer fretless I can not.

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Post by The Grump » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:49 pm

Either this guy's stuff:

http://morch-guitars.dk

or this guy's:


http://kingbass.com


David King made the baddest bass I've ever played, and his teacher, Morch, made the second baddest, and I have played a LOT of instruments.

On a budget? Yup, go with a G&L.

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Post by fac » Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:44 pm

mateo wrote:Just picked up the Squire vintage modified fretless and I'm loving it so far! Pickups need to be upgraded though, too much hum...
I'm a bass newbie and I just got one of these to learn on. I'm really liking it, lines help a lot; but I have to have someone lower the action. There is some hum from the pickups but it cancels out if you set both volume knobs approximately the same.

I'm kind of a "two of each" guy... I have two drum sets, two cajons, two darbukas, two modular systems, two elektron boxes, etc... so I will eventually buy a fretted bass to complement. :hihi:

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Post by mateo » Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:27 am

fac wrote:
mateo wrote:Just picked up the Squire vintage modified fretless and I'm loving it so far! Pickups need to be upgraded though, too much hum...
I'm a bass newbie and I just got one of these to learn on. I'm really liking it, lines help a lot; but I have to have someone lower the action. There is some hum from the pickups but it cancels out if you set both volume knobs approximately the same.
Yeah, the action on mine isn't great either, I'm planning on taking it to get looked at shortly. I've read somewhere that the thinness of the neck causes problems with keeping it straight, but for the price i paid I can't complain too much.

The hum is not nearly as bad as some other instruments I've had, but since my other (fretted) bass is noiseless it bothers me more than it would otherwise.
fac wrote: I'm kind of a "two of each" guy... I have two drum sets, two cajons, two darbukas, two modular systems, two elektron boxes, etc... so I will eventually buy a fretted bass to complement. :hihi:
It's definitely worth having both, the sound and play very differently!

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Post by needlz » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:43 am

The first commenter mentioned a warmoth. I'd +1 that or find an inexpensive, used Japanese made Fender fretless. I'd highly recommend getting one with lines and play it until your intonation becomes effortless.

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