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  1. #1

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    I'd like to learn jazz bass and do it on a fretless electric.
    Can anyone make some recommendations?
    Price wise, I would say I would begin to look at the $1,200 to $3,000 range.
    Thanks.
    C

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    My son has a Cort A4 5 strings fretless and he is quite happy with it.
    Can play active or passive, that makes it rather polyvalent.
    I would like to convince him to put flatwounds on it, but he doesn't like the feel !

    and it is within your budget !
    Make a jazz noise here

  4. #3

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    Get one handbuilt to your specs for less than you'd pay from something pre-made. I'm not an endorser of his products and haven't played one, but Steve Wishnevsky seems like a guy to check out: WISHBASS.COM Page one of his gallery of rather amazing basses (they look like something out of a Braque painting) is here: WISHBASS.COM/gallery.html

  5. #4

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    Ex-bass player here.

    You may not want to spend so much on your first bass, especially if it's a fretless. Fretless isn't for everyone and you may find adjusting to a 34" scale challenging enough without the intonation issue.

    Here's a couple of modestly priced options that I have tried and can recommend:
    Squier Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz Bass: Vintage Modified Jazz Bass® Fretless | Jazz Bass Squier Electric Basses | Squier by Fender®
    How I wish this existed when I was a beginner bass player in the late '90s! After hearing Weather Report's 'Heavy Weather' about six months in to playing the bass (I had up to that point been an indie and funk man), I took a pair of pliers to the frets to what was then my only instrument (a Squier jazz bass). Anyway, this Squier VM fretless is a really good buy.



    Ibanez GWB35: This is the more affordable Gary Willis signature model. 5 string fretless. Again, a solid option for a fretless.
    Electric Basses GWB - GWB35 Gary Willis | Ibanez guitars




    I can't believe that WishBass company is still going. Haven't heard that name in years. They looked dreadful 15 years ago and they look dreadful now. Remember someone on a forum buying one just to confirm how bad it was.

    London Jazz Guitar Society:
    www.meetup.com/londonjazzguitarsociety
    LJGS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LDNJazzGuitar

  6. #5

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    Go Carvin, with or without lines: Carvin.com: USA Custom Shop Electric Bass Guitars

  7. #6

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    Ok, thanks. I've played guitar for so long I can't believe how clued out I am on basses and the various manufacturers.
    If I decided to go with a fretted model, 5 string, what would be a good recommendation? Something from Fender?
    I was looking at some of the Ibanez models but really get freaked at the prices (really low).

  8. #7

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    I though David B had some good recommendations.

    I tried the Squire VM. I didn't like the epoxy neck and roundwound strings as much as the flatwound/real wood neck on the MIM Fender Jazz Fretless. I bought that MIM for $599 a month ago and really like it.

    I've seen Esperanza Spalding play the MIM version, and I think that is a pretty good endorsement.

    Have fun - I sure am with mine. I do think most jazz sounds better on an upright. I might have bought one if I had more money, a bigger car and a bigger house.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by teleman3726 View Post
    Ok, thanks. I've played guitar for so long I can't believe how clued out I am on basses and the various manufacturers.
    If I decided to go with a fretted model, 5 string, what would be a good recommendation? Something from Fender?
    I was looking at some of the Ibanez models but really get freaked at the prices (really low).
    Looks like we have similar wants... From playing my tele guitar, I got into fretless 4 string bass about a year ago on a Fender Jazz Jaco. The neck on that bass is just to die for. Then I wanted to have a fretted option and picked up a 5 string squire VM strung E to high C. That's a beauty too, not as fast as the Jaco, but considering the price and the quality, unbelievable value for money...

  10. #9

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    That's a hollow body. How about this one:



    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden View Post

  11. #10

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    Love the double bass!!!
    Maybe I should buy one of those!!!

  12. #11

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    This is what I have:-



    (No, that's not me - wish I had that much hair!!)

    It's a Pace bass by Dean. Inexpensive, though you would probably need to buy a pre-amp/equaliser, as it still sounds more like a fretless BG rather than a DB, unlike most EUB's. However,you can get the proper right hand position and attack and thus you get some of the "Ping and Ring" of an upright; more than you might expect from something with the scale of a BG. It's still easy to get the "mwaaa" of a fretless BG. And I can swap between guitar and bass with much less of an adjustment.
    Last edited by mangotango; 05-14-2014 at 06:51 AM.

  13. #12

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    Thanks, Mango. I saw a few of these in one of the music stores where I happen to be at the moment. Did you take any lessons in order to get the proper positioning, et al?
    Ultimately, I would like to learn the DB, complete with the use of the bow (and a porkpie hat on jazz nights!) so what you've suggested might be the best way forward.

  14. #13

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    A good double bass has a wonderful beautiful sound, but they much more expensive than guitars, a good carved wood double bass starts at around £2000 to £10,000, a good set of strings is about £150+.
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by teleman3726 View Post
    Thanks, Mango. I saw a few of these in one of the music stores where I happen to be at the moment. Did you take any lessons in order to get the proper positioning, et al?
    Ultimately, I would like to learn the DB, complete with the use of the bow (and a porkpie hat on jazz nights!) so what you've suggested might be the best way forward.
    Well, I used to play DB a long time ago so it wasn't too much of a hardship at all. There are dots down the side but lines would be easier; however, I'm sure that you'd want to get rid of those when you're good enought not to need them any longer. One thing - you can't really bow the Pace, would have to go to a proper EUB for that.

  16. #15

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    OK, mango. Thanks for the words.
    I wasn't suggesting bowing the Pace - but rather the 'proper EUB.'
    One question (very important, too): do you think it will be easier to learn jazz on an upright bass if I wear a porkpie hat?
    Seems to me all the best players have them. Gotta be something to it, no?

  17. #16

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    All the best players have one. I do, too.

  18. #17

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    Great! I've got a nice one picked out.

  19. #18

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    I'd say that I'm currently a part-time bassist (but I was bassist in a quartet about ten years ago). I have an wonderful Epiphone Zenith bass that I love (out-of-production, unfortunately) . A very unique design visually and tonally via chambering along with a couple of proprietary pickups by Shadow. Very acoustic in nature, IMO.

    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-epiphone-zenith-fretless-bass-catalog-photo-jpg

    Here's a great YouTube demo...



    As you can hear, it's not quite a Fender bass sound at all and, IMO, wonderful for a more original sound if that's what you're up for. Look around, I've seen a few over time selling either used or NOS.

    Side note: I loved the fretless so much that I eventually picked up the fretted version which was being blown-out at a local store last year. Between the frets and different strings, it's a totally different, great sound (think Steve Swallow if you like). Also highly recommended.

    By the way, I'll also second the Squier VM fretless. Great sound for half the price of the Epi (and totally different), but definitely put flats on it for the best sound and for keeping the fingerboard around longer. I have a (full-time) bassist friend who has one, too, and he absolutely loves it (and yeah, with flats).

  20. #19

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    Epiphone used to make a fretless bass called the EMB 5. It had a very realistic upright sound.

  21. #20

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    I have an electric bass and do well on it, but you gotta love that fretless upright sound. I think if I ever get another bass, it's gonna be one of those electric Kala U-basses. They use polyurethane strings, are very small, and come in fretted or fretless versions in acoustic or solidbody styles. They have a sound closer to an upright than a regular electric bass.

    This guy is an upright player and is actually gigging with his Kala. There's tons of Youtube videos featuring them and they're getting a lot of love from serious players.


  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I have an electric bass and do well on it, but you gotta love that fretless upright sound. I think if I ever get another bass, it's gonna be one of those electric Kala U-basses. They use polyurethane strings, are very small, and come in fretted or fretless versions in acoustic or solidbody styles. They have a sound closer to an upright than a regular electric bass.

    This guy is an upright player and is actually gigging with his Kala. There's tons of Youtube videos featuring them and they're getting a lot of love from serious players.


    That sounds really good. I would think intonation would be challenging because of the short scale length.

  23. #22

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    Like a violin?

  24. #23
    I recommend a Fender P-Bass special. It has the fatter sounding split-coil pickup and the brighter jazz pickup.

    A quick eBay search turned up this:

    Fender Precision Bass Special 4 String w Moses Fretless Unlined Neck P Bass 001900858005 | eBay

    Or if you like Jaco you could try a standard jazz bass, I found one with lines on the neck (we used to call 'em cheater bars)

    2005 Fender Standard Jazz Bass Fretless Mint w OHSC 717669632618 | eBay

    Hope this helps

  25. #24

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    I always thought the old Ampeg was way cool, with its upright style headstock..

    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-ampegbass-jpg

  26. #25

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    Played a Stagg very recently. Surprisingly nice for a budget model.

    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-staggfretlessbass-jpg
    Last edited by Woody Sound; 06-05-2014 at 10:16 AM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    I always thought the old Ampeg was way cool, with its upright style headstock..

    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-ampegbass-jpg
    Definitely!

    Quite a bit of history there and probably pretty hard to track down, but Italia makes a pretty serious homage to the Ampeg with this 5-string model...

    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-italia-retless-bass-719-mf-2014-jpg
    By the way, if anyone's interested (no, I don't work for them), these 5-strings are still available and highly reviewed here: Italia Imola 5-String Fretless Electric Bass Guitar Vintage Red Burst | Musician's Friend

  28. #27

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    I play fretless on a Fuquay P-bass. Charles Fuquay made this instrument, inspired by a mid-50s Fender, but with a carved maple top. The bass has a Seymour Duncan pickup. It plays and sounds great.
    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-fuquay-bass-jpg

  29. #28

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    Headstock detail:
    Fretless solid body bass - recommendations?-fuquay-headstock-jpg

  30. #29

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    I second the Uke bass, fretless. Light, small, and sounds like an upright, for less than $400. Perfect for guitar/bass doublers.

  31. #30

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    So many good options here! I just got Squier P bass. Good for the $. The Uke bass sounds very good as does the Epiphone.

  32. #31

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    I play a double and for a fretless electric I really like the MIM Fender Jazz (not the Squire) that I purchased new about 15 years ago. You may find a used one. The Squire might be fine, I just have no experience with it. I use the MIM fretless on rock gigs rather than my Custom Shop Fender Jazz. Decent growl, nice straight neck. I use jazz flats on it and it sounds great. Good luck on the hunt; a good bass is a delight.
    "Talent is a pursued interest; anything that you're willing to practice, you can do." - Bob Ross

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B View Post
    Ex-bass player here.

    You may not want to spend so much on your first bass, especially if it's a fretless. Fretless isn't for everyone and you may find adjusting to a 34" scale challenging enough without the intonation issue.

    Here's a couple of modestly priced options that I have tried and can recommend:
    Squier Vintage Modified Fretless Jazz Bass: Vintage Modified Jazz Bass® Fretless | Jazz Bass Squier Electric Basses | Squier by Fender®
    How I wish this existed when I was a beginner bass player in the late '90s! After hearing Weather Report's 'Heavy Weather' about six months in to playing the bass (I had up to that point been an indie and funk man), I took a pair of pliers to the frets to what was then my only instrument (a Squier jazz bass). Anyway, this Squier VM fretless is a really good buy.

    Ibanez GWB35: This is the more affordable Gary Willis signature model. 5 string fretless. Again, a solid option for a fretless.
    Electric Basses GWB - GWB35 Gary Willis | Ibanez guitars
    This.

    Then upgrade the electronics later, if you want. It is really all the bass anyone needs.

  34. #33

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    Or you can pull the frets out of a fretted bass and fill in the slots with wood putty, like Jaco.

  35. #34

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    Pulling out the frets is a good way to go. I used to play in a band with a couple of guys with an interesting background. The drummer used to play with Jaco Pastorius in an earlier band. (Cool.) The bassist has a brother who was Prince's sound guy. Fender's John Page approached Prince about accepting a bass Page had made--a recreation of the Jaco bass. Prince didn't want it, but the sound guy did, so Fender gave it to him. Anyway, it ended up in the possession of my bassist. He played it for years and has it to this day. It is a great bass--it is a Fender Jazz Bass with the fret positions filled in with epoxy. The bass sounds fabulous and plays wonderfully.

    As I said on the previous page, I play a recreation of a Fender Precision Bass, but fretless. It is a 50s version with the early 50s headstock and single-coil pickup. It, too, is a fantastic bass.

    I have a bunch of gigs coming up on that bass. With tape-wound LaBella strings on it, it gets a great tone that is about half-way to the sound of my upright bass. I really like it.

    My son plays a Warwick Thumb Bass like the one that Jack Bruce played with the Cream reunion concerts. It, too, is a great instrument. I'm just not an active pickup guy. Call me old school.

  36. #35

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    Please forgive my ignorance on the matter as I've just gained an interest in bass.....
    what is the purpose of the plate under the strings on Gary Willis's instrument?

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh View Post
    Please forgive my ignorance on the matter as I've just gained an interest in bass.....
    what is the purpose of the plate under the strings on Gary Willis's instrument?
    It's to keep the player from digging in too far with their fingers.

    I'm not not sure I would like it. I think digging in gives it a more rhythmic feel because there is more decay (more like a double bass). I've never tried the Gary Willis style bass. Gary Willis bass style is very legato. I think he does a lot of right hand dampening to make the playing more rhythmic. More recently he looks to play with his thumb and dampens with his palm.

  38. #37

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    That's what I was thinking, that it would hamper a players technique in not getting in deep.
    It obviously works for Gary but I think I'll leave things as they are.

  39. #38
    Godin's A series basses would do the trick.

    Godin Guitars

    4 or 5 string, fretted or fretless, piezo in the bridge, plus a magnetic pickup.

    i have the earlier Godin Acoustibass, with the LR baggs pickup system. No mag, but it's fretless and sounds great.

  40. #39
    my fave is the japanese gary willis bass

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    I'm just not an active pickup guy. Call me old school.
    For some reason, there is a lot more love for active electronics in the bass world than the guitar world.