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Anyone else play unlined fretless?


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Do stop me if there is already a thread but I couldn't see one. Just thought it might be good to have somewhere to swap ideas , wrinkles, that sort of thing. 

I accidentally got into unlined after I bought a Revelation off eBay.  The seller's pix were so bad I thought it was lined until I picked up but I decided to keep it anyway (as new, £120, what's not to like?).  I'd always assumed unlined was seriously hard, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought - so long as the side markers are in the right place.  In fact I took to it so much I've since bought another, an active 940FL Vintage (pic) and my fretted Hohner 6 is gathering dust. The Vintage through my Ashdown MAG300 + 15" is such a nice sound.  

So far the upsides are the sound, and having young people at blues jams ask "Are you really playing unlined? Wow" in an awed tone which frankly I don't get very much for .. anything really. :)

The downsides are they're pretty difficult to sell because there are so few unlined FeLlas.      






Edited by lownote12
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1 minute ago, Merton said:

I always found myself relying on the lines on my old Status Groove fretless so when my friend built me this made a conscious decision to go unlined, to force me to listen more and look less. It’s great fun :)

Fiver, nice.  I can't seem to find a cheap 5 string.  There is always this, currently in the Bass Gallery for almost £8000. Its ebony fingerboard is probably worth more than all my gear put together.  


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6 minutes ago, franzbassist said:

Yep, I play unlined fretless almost all the time.  In fact I've played unlined for so long now I am completely disorientated on a lined!

Here's my squeeze: a beautiful Franz Sirius from Germany.



Wuff, that is beautiful.  And I just found a clip online so I know its sounds great too.

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I've only ever had unlined and quite honestly have never understood the lined/unlined thing. If you have side dots then I really can't see having lines or not makes things any different.

On a fretted bass surely people aren't leaning over the front to see where they are by using the fretboard dots or blocks over using the side dots, same with fretless. 

I much prefer the look of unlined as well and would always buy unlined over lined if a choice was available. 

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My Wal is lined 'cause I naively ordered it that way back in '83, but at least I had the sense to specify rosewood lines in an ebony fingerboard so they're only visible if you look hard. Anyway, I soon discovered that, for me anyway, lines compete with chocolate teapots in the usefulness stakes. When I look it's at the side dots (don't get me started on dots positioned between the "frets"! What utter madness is that?). And, well, I sometimes wonder what kind of looks an orchestral string player would get from their colleagues if they turned up with, say a lined violin?

Happy New Year


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Here are some of mine, I really don't like lined fretless basses because you tend to play with your eyes and not your ears.

De Gier Origin Deluxe Fretless 6


Ernie Ball MusicMan StingRay 5 Fretless


Fender Precision Bass Fretless 1970


Fender Precision Bass Fretlessised 1978


Laurus Quasar SL 190


Leduc MP 628 SF AA


Leduc MP 631 SF


Leduc MP 628 SF


MTD 635-24 Fretless


Nexus Gom Jabbar Magellan Fretless 6


Noguera Fairplay Fretless 6


Noguera YC Signature 8 Fretless


Paul Lairat Gabriella 5 Fretless


Stradi Symphony Bass #6



Most of them have gone...

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Fortunate enough to have had both lined and unlined Stingrays in my time, and much prefer unlined as I tended to overthink/over rely on watching my playing with lined rather than just intonating from muscle memory.

Spookily enough sold my last 2EQ Pino-inspired one to the previous poster, Mr Old Horse of this parish many moons ago...


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