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Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:32 pm

I completely identify with this article. I didn't come at the fretless bass from Jaco Pastorius, it was Pino Palladino in Paul Young's band that caught my attention. At the time, my first wife had become a born again Christian, and I, despite being a confirmed atheist, got roped in to play bass in her local church band. (I'm normally a guitar player). So, I bought a left handed precision copy, then I saw Paul Young on the Tube show and loved the sound of PP's bass. I pulled all the frets from said bass and filled the gaps with Araldite. It worked great, then I thought I'd like one designed to be fretless, so I ordered a custom Manson via a local Nottingham music shop. It was, and is still great, despite suffering a neck break. After that I did get into Jaco, despite having been into jazz rock since the late 70's. Then I found out I'd been listening to Boz Burrell's fretless bass in Bad Company. I don't think that as the article says that fretless bass is a sort of guilty pleasure, the fretless bass covers all bass requirments. Pino Palladino did all the slap bass stuff on his fretless and it sounds great.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:47 pm

Love my (fretless) NS Design Wave 4 EUB, I'm a guitar player who plays bass (barely adequately rather than well I hasten to add) and have fretted electric Brian Eastwood Precision and the aforementioned EUB (plus a couple of others). You can't beat the sound of a Fretless bass :thumbup:
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:01 pm

Sadly, my original no name precision copy that I'd made fretless was stolen in a burglary, along with some other nice left handed guitars. Fortunately the Manson was in a gig bag, so I still have it. They also took a really nice Squier modified precision bass, left handed, that I replaced after the insurance pay out with a 5 string Steinberger headless bass, again LH, which matches my LH Hohner headless 6 string. The insurance claim was a pain because some of the guitars had been purchased 20 odd years before the theft. Not to mention the other stuff they stole, laptops etc.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:10 pm

:( nothing worse than being burgled*, it goes beyond the loss of the stuff........

My most coveted bass is a Carbon, through neck, headless Status (fretted 5 string and fretless 4 string if I could have two) probably in trans green with quilted maple......

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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:15 pm

Stratman57 wrote:Sadly, my original no name precision copy that I'd made fretless was stolen in a burglary,

Actually I bought my son a cheap no-name fretless precision (which turned out to be a Hondo and was far better than it should have been with that pedigree) for not much money. After he upgraded to a pretty nice 5 string Richwood we sold it (for £20) to a Cellist friend of his, she later gave it back to us and I passed it on, FOC, to a young local bassist friend who fancied trying a fretless.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:27 pm

Unfortunately, back then even finding a left handed bass or anything in Nottingham was a problem. I think I paid about £80 for it. Before that, I had a fantastic Fender Telecaster with a full range pickup in the bridge position in a sort of blond colour, LH obviously, that I sold for £110 to put towards a deposit on my first house. (Cost £10,950). I wish I still had that one, not seen anything equivalent at all.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Music Wolf » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:34 am

Stratman57 wrote: I pulled all the frets from said bass and filled the gaps with Araldite. It worked great,

I did the same with my early 80's Tokai (I think that I used wood filler?). I had done it to a Yamaha back in the 80's but that had been sold on. The Tokai mod must have been done in the last 4 years as I got my Ibanez bass as a 25 years service award from work and that's when I no longer used the Tokai.

Mine is strung with flat wounds.

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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:05 pm

Here's my LH Manson fretless. It has a coil tap on a pull switch on the tone control, so a few more tonal options than the single pickup would suggest.

Image

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby MOF » Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:05 pm

Unfortunately, back then even finding a left handed bass or anything in Nottingham was a problem.
Surely Carlsboro (sadly no longer there) and Music Inn would have had some stock available?
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:44 pm

Music Wolf wrote:
Stratman57 wrote: I pulled all the frets from said bass and filled the gaps with Araldite. It worked great,

I did the same with my early 80's Tokai (I think that I used wood filler?).

Way back in the 70's I had a Hagstom Futurama short-scale bass that I stripped the frets out of, but instead of hiding the slots, I sliced up one of those old wooden matchboxes and glued strips into the slots as fret markers and then sanded the fretboard down. This is the model (but not my modified one):

Image

That gave me some fretless sounds, but with lots of position markers to help me stay in tune. It was a lovely little bass, and I do wish I hadn't given away that bass in the late 70's, but I do hope someone is still getting some enjoyment from it now.


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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:35 pm

@Mof, there were a few music shops in Nottingham at the time, there was one around the corner from the Playhouse, where I bought a LH Eco Ranger acoustic guitar from, which I still have. Another, near the theatre Royal and Selectadisc, and one I think was on Market Street, which is where I got the Manson fretless from. Music Inn I seem to remember was up on Derby Road. Carlsboro, yeah, I used to play my aforementioned Tele through a Carlsboro Stingray 100 watt head connected to a Marshall 4x12 cab. Great sound.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby MOF » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:00 pm

Mof, there were a few music shops in Nottingham at the time, there was one around the corner from the Playhouse, where I bought a LH Eco Ranger acoustic guitar from, which I still have. Another, near the theatre Royal and Selectadisc, and one I think was on Market Street, which is where I got the Manson fretless from. Music Inn I seem to remember was up on Derby Road. Carlsboro, yeah, I used to play my aforementioned Tele through a Carlsboro Stingray 100 watt head connected to a Marshall 4x12 cab. Great sound.

Regards, Simon.
Hi Simon, that must have been before 1984 when I moved to Nottingham. I don’t remember a music instrument shop in Market Street, there was a shop in Derby Road but Music Inn is on Alfreton Road.
We’ve now got Drum and Guitar Centre, PMT a guitar shop in Abbey Road, West Bridgford and a few others. Regards from Michael.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby zenguitar » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:12 pm

I converted a couple of fretted basses for clients using maple binding strips to fill the slots. Black stained epoxy and instant lined fretless.

The only bass I ever bought was a fretless Manson Kestrel. I thought that the lack of frets would stop me treating it as a guitar and make me approach it as a bass. Subsequently I inherited my late brother’s bass collection which includes a lovely Wal fretless.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Stratman57 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:20 am

MOF wrote:
Mof, there were a few music shops in Nottingham at the time, there was one around the corner from the Playhouse, where I bought a LH Eco Ranger acoustic guitar from, which I still have. Another, near the theatre Royal and Selectadisc, and one I think was on Market Street, which is where I got the Manson fretless from. Music Inn I seem to remember was up on Derby Road. Carlsboro, yeah, I used to play my aforementioned Tele through a Carlsboro Stingray 100 watt head connected to a Marshall 4x12 cab. Great sound.

Regards, Simon.
Hi Simon, that must have been before 1984 when I moved to Nottingham. I don’t remember a music instrument shop in Market Street, there was a shop in Derby Road but Music Inn is on Alfreton Road.
We’ve now got Drum and Guitar Centre, PMT a guitar shop in Abbey Road, West Bridgford and a few others. Regards from Michael.

Yes, before 1984, I got my first proper job in 1975, then I left Nottingham in 1986.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby BillB » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:20 pm

Got to chime in here.

Image

This Aria ProII is a fretless, despite the appearance created by the fret markers. It was my second fretless, the first having been a nice-looking precision-type, with no fret marks. I quite liked the lack of fret markings, thought it very cool to ‘feel’ the notes and, having a reasonable ear, didn’t have too much trouble, but the action and build quality was poor. When I saw this second-hand beauty in a guitar shop in Liverpool, somewhere around 1980, I was disappointed that it had fret markers, but had to have it just the same. Pleading for an advance from my very understanding employer, I think I didn’t eat much for the next month or so, but it was worth it.

I always liked the Aria SBs of that time - mostly the look of them. Always fancied a twin pickup fretted, but never saw one I could afford. I think this model is the SB600 or SB700.

Like other folks, my fretless inspirations were Jones and Giblin of Brand X, Pino Palladino of Paul Young band (and more), and Jaco, although I was always disappointed that his solos tended towards the weird more than the melodic. Playing behind an artist like Joni Mitchell though - Hejira is still one of my all time favourite albums, not least because of Jaco’s gorgeous playing. Brand X: ‘Wal to Wal’ (Jones/Giblin) and ‘April’ from the Product album are two favourites. Then Pino’s lyrical intro to ‘Wherever I lay my hat’, or Linx’s ‘There’s Love’... so many great songs and instrumentals of that time in which the fretless contributed massively to the overall character.

As for the Aria, it does sound good but the fretboard is a little worn and overly buzzy in one or two places. If anyone knows of a good guitar (fretless bass!) tech within striking distance of Yorkshire, please let me know. After 40 years, this one probably deserves some TLC.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Wonks » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:28 pm

All you need is a radius block (of the same radius as the board), double sided tape, and a selection of sandpapers and you could re-radius the board yourself. If it's a natural finish board, tape up the body around the neck and just sand away with coarse paper until all the pits are gone, then lighter sanding with finer grits until the board is smooth again.

You'd need to remove and replace the nut so you can sand all the way to the end, but that's a few seconds work.

If the board's been epoxied, then its just a question of filling in the pits with more epoxy resin (a clear resin mix rather than glue!), then do the radius block sanding again but then finish off with wet-sanding with micromesh all through the grits.

If you aren't sure of the radius of the board, you can get a set of radius gauges from eBay or Amazon for a few quid (or you can always just radius the board to a flatter spec if you want).

Crimson guitars are about the best place to get radius blocks. Get the longest for ease of making sure the whole board is as level as possible. Note that these are made to order and mine took ages to arrive. https://crimsonguitars.com/store/radius ... s-lengths/
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:31 pm

I've just bought one of these (will add pic of mine later). I love the dot markers, subtle but effective.

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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby BillB » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:17 pm

Wonks, thanks for the technical advice, but that sounds like a catalogue of all the things I could possibly do wrong :headbang:
I would rather pay someone who knows what they are doing, than learn the hard way...
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:51 pm

Not Yorkshire (quite) but Brian Eastwood and his son Michael in Bacup are very good and extremely helpful.
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Re: Why I like fretless bass in this month's magazine

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:18 pm

You utter utter utter bastards. I now have extreme GAS for a fretless bass.
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