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chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 39
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 8:26 am:   Edit Post

I am considering converting a Fender Jazz bass to a fretless with the addition of a Warmouth fretless neck. In examining the specs on their website they offer two versions. One is unlined with side markers only, while the other has ghost frets and inlayed poition markers. The unlined version states that the position markers fall where the fret would normally be, though the ghost fret markers are just like a regular fret board in terms of position. I have never played a true fretless only converted versions. Is it normal and do Alembics have the position markers on unlined fret boards aligned in a similar fashion????
olieoliver
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 455
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 8:33 am:   Edit Post

I am not sure about Alembic, but I have a 79 Music Man fretless and it has the side markers where the fret would normaly be. I would assume all fretless (that don't have the fret lines) are this way.
wayne
Intermediate Member
Username: wayne

Post Number: 132
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 9:10 am:   Edit Post

Yes, Alembic basses built as fretless will have the postion markers where the frets would have been. (At least every one that I've seen.) (Unless you request something different - they are the ultimate in custom, right?)

A way to think about it: The position markers are to help you see where to put your finger. On a fretTED bass, you put your finger between the frets. On a fretLESS bass, your finger essentially becomes the "fret", therefore the position marker needs to be aligned where the fret would have been had it been there but wasn't because it's not.

(Sorry, got carried away there for a minute....)

C-Ya...........wayne
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 40
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 9:25 am:   Edit Post

Thanks Wayne, I understood the logic but not the mechanics. I imagine it is purely a matter of practice with a fretless to get used to the positioning. Oh boy, a new challenge.
olieoliver
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 456
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post

Charles, if you've never played a fretless before the neck with the fretlines on the fret board is easiest to master. The dots on the top are great for the low E but are a little miss leading on the higher strings due to the angle at which you look at the neck. Especialy if you sling your bass up high like I do.
Practice and a good ear are whats needed on fretless.
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 41
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 9:55 am:   Edit Post

Well Olie, I have the practice regime down pretty well, but residual hearing loss (too many years playing drums in small clubs and rehearsal studios) has noticeably affected my ability to audibly hear the difference between Bb and B and several other lower bass notes, so I guess I'll just need to work on my technique to make the fretless endeavor work out. Thanks
spliffy
Member
Username: spliffy

Post Number: 77
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 10:41 am:   Edit Post

I have both, and I found it easiest to learn how to play with ghost markers. This was especially helpful since my main fretted bass and the fretless had different neck lengths.
Some people will tell you that if you go fretless then do not have any lines because you have to learn by ear, but IMHO, if it helps you learn, then all the power to you and forget what anyone else thinks.
When I do pick up a fretless I still favour the cheaper fretless I bought (entry level Yamaha), because it feels easier to play than my Godin!
Good luck and just stick with it. then post sound clips...

Al
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 42
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 11:01 am:   Edit Post

Well this was an interesting approach I found on the Custom Archives. This kinda brings it all into focus. Thanks for everyones input.

http://www.alembic.com/info/FC_tiger.html
olieoliver
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 457
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 11:10 am:   Edit Post

I played nothing but fretless from 79 to about 90 and my main work was with a Heavy Metal band. Not too many cats played metal on a fretless.
In fact I pulled my Music Man out last week. Restrung it cleaned it up and played it for about 5 hours straight.
I the fret board need to be replaced on it. I know I shouldn't have but I played round wound strings on it for years. It now has round wound wounds. LOL
Anyone have any suggestions as to who to send it to.
keith_h
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 484
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 12:14 pm:   Edit Post

chuckc: Well this was an interesting approach I found on the Custom Archives. This kinda brings it all into focus. Thanks for everyones input.

I did the same thing on my fretless Orion (April FCOTM). The sidelines don't detract from the fretboard but do give me a quick reference if I get lost. I also opted for the offset positon markers.

Keith
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 43
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 1:11 pm:   Edit Post

As I was sitting here reading all the feedback and reviewing some of the fretless customs such as Keith's I had a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious). I remember from years ago as a hapless music major that the mandolin was developed to give violin and viola players a plucked instrument to play. Though I don't recall ever seeing a violin with frets or position markers I have never seen a fretless mandolin either. It certainly gives me a new found respect for players who have mastered the violin/mandolin concept like Ricky Skaggs, since they have to depend entirely on hand position to achieve the correct notes on the violin and then try to get their fingers between those itty bitty frets on the mandolin. Think I'll just stick to being a below average bass player at this point.
rami
Senior Member
Username: rami

Post Number: 560
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - 1:51 pm:   Edit Post

I personally prefer unlined fretless Basses because with a lined fretless, most manufacturers like Fender put the side dots along the fretline rather than between the fretlines as on a fretted Bass. I find that throws me off rather than help. If I'm to look at a simulation of a fretted neck, why not leave the side dots as on a fretted Bass? At least with an unlined fretless you only have one point of reference rather than two conflicting ones. It's true that when I play my fretted Bass that I actually play right on the frets rather than between them, so the side dots are always a little to the left of where I place my fingers. That's where I get messed up with lined fretless Basses.
Fender's Jaco signature Bass has this inconsistency. It has dots on the fingerboard in the correct position, but the side dots are right on the fretlines. They should at least make it similar to Jaco's actual de-fretted fretless. Leave the side dots BETWEEN the fretlines, or get rid of the fretlines completely!

My 2 cents
fc_spoiler
Junior
Username: fc_spoiler

Post Number: 21
Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 1:06 am:   Edit Post

I totally agree with olieoliver about the miss leading on the higher strings due to the angle at which you look at the neck. I've got a Gibson ripper fretless (check www.fcbass.tk for pictures)with tiny dot markers on the side only, the dot markers are placed where the normal markers would be (between frets)
I think the best way of playing fretless basses is with yer eyes closed, use yer humble ears!
N.B. Rami, your basses are phenomenal!

(Message edited by fc_spoiler on June 21, 2006)

(Message edited by fc_spoiler on June 21, 2006)
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 691
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 5:31 am:   Edit Post

Chuck.
When I got my fretless rogue last year, I ordered it as lined fretless which I'm still very happy with. I could have had it with the inlayed maple markers or purely with the side dots. Another option i was given was the positioning of the normal side dots - 3, 5 , 7, 9, 12 etc. I opted for the normal 'fretted' positions but could have had them lined up with the fret positions.
I've been playing fretless long enough to be able to watch the audience most of the time but it's nice to have some frame of reference now and again. Your best bet would be to try a few variations to see which you prefer before you splash out on a new neck.

Graeme
88persuader
Intermediate Member
Username: 88persuader

Post Number: 193
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - 10:07 pm:   Edit Post

I've played fretless for many years now and dislike the fake fret marks on some fretless necks. I'm in the "dots where the fret is and nothing on the front of the neck Camp." To me it's totally natural that way. When i play a fretless neck with the dots BEFORE the fret position and fake frets on the neck it totally screws me up. I've talked with other bass players who feet totally opposite from me, who can only play fretless basses WITH fake fret marks. So i guess there are players for both type of necks. You'll be the only who can decide which is right for you. BUT that being said, my personal feeling is fretless is the ONLY way to go if you want to make the bass SING. However Fretless is NOT to good for rock or thumb/finger popping styles. So that's another factor to consider ... what type of style player are you? If you're playing Jazz, R&B and stuff like that fretless is awesome. If you're playing metal, hard rock or hard funk you're probably better off with frets. ORRRRRRR do what I've done, get several of each! :-)
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 693
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 1:06 am:   Edit Post

Raymond's right, I take both Alembics to gigs to give me options for harder and softer rock. However, the choice isn't always obvious. For instance, I use the fretless on the Hives 'Hate to say I told you so - probably our heaviest song!!. The other thing i'd point out is that Fretless can sound superb when slapped - it's a totally different feel to fretted slap - Listen to Bhagiti Khumalo playing on Paul Simons Graceland - especially the slapped solo in 'you can call me Al' to see what I mean.

Graeme
88persuader
Intermediate Member
Username: 88persuader

Post Number: 194
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 1:32 am:   Edit Post

Jacko has a good point. I actually use my Fretless 5 string playing covers by Lincoln Park and GodSmack and HAVE popped it however it's not it's strong point. When you slap and pop a fretless it's a much more "wooden" sound. With Frets you get a SHARP attack. My current fretless is a Modulus Quantum 5 string with Bartolini pick-ups so the neck is total graphite ... even the fingerboard. So it has a very unique sound when slapped ... not really wooden at all. VERY VERY big and warm but the high end if I pop or slap is a waste. I've had other fretless basses (Fender, Warwick & Carvin) that were better for popping and slapping but the Modulus just doesn't make it using that technique. (Has to be the graphite neck) I tend to run the highs and mids neutral and the lows jacked up a touch for a warm but distinct tone. Each note has presence and punch, not muddy ... however slapping and popping the bass is a waste, just doesn't make it. I'm an Alembic lover but I also love my Modulus. However they are totally different animals. The Modulus is warm and rich and that's it's strength. And when I slap and pop my Stanley Clark Standard ... watch out! Now THAT bass has an attitude!!!:-)
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 44
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 7:26 am:   Edit Post

Well, there certainly are a myriad of opinions on this subject. My current repertoire consists of mostly classic/current rock, blues and some original songs. I was thinking of using the fretless for the ballads and to a larger degree, for better dynamics, on the moderate to slow country tunes. I have the luxury of both of my current gigging basses being long scale so I won't have to adjust my hand positions to accommodate different scales. I don't think I will be doing much thumb slapping on the fretless so thatís pretty much a non-issue at this stage. I am hoping that the fretless will give me a little more tonality and feel for developing my jazz chops, which I have wanted to do but have never really seriously pursued. I'll probably spend a bit of time and try to digest all this great feedback before I decide one way or the other but everyone's "first hand" experiences have been most helpful. Peace, Chuck
57basstra
Intermediate Member
Username: 57basstra

Post Number: 123
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 7:39 am:   Edit Post

My eight years in elementary school and high school playing the trombone and bass trombone seemed to give me a good feel for the fretless bass guitar. (The trumpet, clarinet and sax players were always asking me how I knew where to play the notes)
rami
Senior Member
Username: rami

Post Number: 562
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006 - 4:29 pm:   Edit Post

Jack Bruce plays a mean fretless on the latest DVD with Cream - I HIGHLY recommend it.
keurosix
Junior
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 48
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 5:41 pm:   Edit Post

Chuck,
If you can, try to pick up a used Alembic fretless bass rather than convert your Fender. You will get the benefit of the best electronics in the business - not to mention the best guitar construction too. It makes a big difference. I learned fretless on a Series 1 Alembic, and when I sold it I didn't play fretless for a while.(didn't want to!)I have a Dean fretless now, but long for the Alembic. The Series 1 neck had red LEDs right where the fret would be. You simply fretted at the light and you were in-tune once your ear corrected for any small deviation in pitch. The other instruments in the band can play the tonality for you to lock onto with you ear. A cool technique is to rock your finger from the wrist (parallel to the neck) which creates a traditional vibrato effect. This can't be done with a fretted bass where you bend the string along the fret (perpendicular to the neck) - unless you have a tremolo bar. This is the classic "singing" effect. Using this technique you can fine-tune your pitch on the fly and bring your playing into tune with the rest of the band. I find that playing in "position" is really important with fretless, and comparing open strings with fretted will keep you in tune as you play. Any upright bass technique you know or can learn will help you play fretless, but the fretless is much easier on the fingers / hands / body to master. The Alembic electronics will also help you nail that desirable "mwah" tonality.
Best of luck.
Kris
richbass939
Senior Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 659
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 6:58 pm:   Edit Post

Chuck, this was recently posted on the club.
http://alembic.com/club/messages/395/29312.html?1151198338
fretless Essence.
Rich
jbybj
New
Username: jbybj

Post Number: 2
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 8:39 pm:   Edit Post

Hello Chuck,
After playing fretted bass for about 30 years, my midlife crises manifested itself in the decision to take on the fretless challenge. I am not a giggin musician and do not have much disposable income. Fortunately I happened upon Wishbass. I have two now, $300 and $400 respectively. They have these amazing necks, with side dots only, and after I properly sanded and finished them, they play wonderfully, and have a suberb, organic sound. I say, go to wishbass.com, or search ebay, he often has a bass or two online. Best of luck, James
chuckc
Junior
Username: chuckc

Post Number: 45
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 6:58 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the info James. Their line up looks pretty interesting. I may have to check one of these out

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