Re: fretless basses

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Posted by Harry Brooks on February 01, 2002 at 14:00:27:

In Reply to: fretless basses posted by matt mcallister on February 01, 2001 at 02:16:00:

: I was wondering if you knew anything about if it affects the fretboard if you were to put the regular strings on a bass. I think they are called roundwound. Because when you play a fretted bass, the string never really touches the fretboard. It usually rests in the middle of both frets. So I was wondering if it would make grooves in the fretboard aver a period of time. I was also wondering if Jaco Pastorius was the(pioneer) person who invented the fretless bass. I have not heard anything about a fretless bass before he came around and made his style. thanks, matt

Matt: As far as grooves in the fretless fingerboard...YES YES;
You will eventually get grooves, man...BIG HONKIN' English Channel-sized
muthaz to boot! Now, mind you, it all depends on the material of the
fingerboard. Ebony is a dense, resinous wood; but I've seen a few old
fretless basses with grooves in their ebony 'boards. Perhaps those man-
made 'boards (phenolic resins) can stand up better. It's the same stuff
bowling balls are made of; so it's gotta be tougher. A good string for a
fretless bass (if you prefer light gauge) is the D'Addario "half-round"
(which is easy on frets too) or GHS flat "boomers". Most fretless players
I know use light gauge flatwounds. I'd stay away from those tape-covered
jobs; they might replicate the old upright sound to a degree, but they
don't sound too good. I'm waiting for someone (like Godin Guitars) to
make a nylon-stringed elec-acoust. fretless bass. That would be pie in the
sky for old "experimenters" like me.
Now about Jaco...I don't think he actually INVENTED the fretless bass, for
I think Epiphone made a fretless bass back in the '50s or early '60s.
As a jazzman, however, he used the fretless bass guitar to express a facility
that he couldn't get with a standard jazz bass violin (string bass).
Other notable fretless players: Kenny Wild (Seawind), Ron Carter, Jr.,
Jack Bruce (post-Cream), Don Was, and Sting (who uses fretless basses a lot).

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