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Converting to fretless?

Converting to fretless?

ariane cap fretless bass guitar

How difficult is it to convert from fretted to fretless bass playing?

While I don’t recommend to convert fully – both fretless and fretted have their uses – read in my article below what I recommend to keep in mind. The transition is so much easier if you have a solid one-finger-per-fret regimen under your fingers on the fretted bass. And intonation of course is the biggest challenge – check some tips for that in the article.

And experiment with all the options the fretless gives you and the fretted doesn’t – shaping the tones, vibrato, slides, pinch harmonic slides – a whole world of sound that the fretless offers.

My first fretless was an Alembic Elan. It was fretted, really, but when I got my first Marleaux I had a hard time parting with that Alembic, so I had the frets removed – basically as an excuse to keep it. It was a neck through bass, so it sounded really beautiful. What is nice about removing frets from a fretted instrument you know well, is that you already know the ins and outs of that instrument. I had the fret groves filled with a dark brown wood dust – against the black fretboard I could see the lines up close. The dots were where I was used to them being (between the “frets”, so I had no problem adjusting Many fretless basses that have no lines have dots exactly where the fret would be, so it takes a bit of getting used to.

Enjoy more tips on converting

And by the way, the bass in the picture above is a Fibenare bass. I am very lucky when it comes to amazing luthiers having built incredible instruments for me. But it is easy to get hung up on brands. While a great instrument is certainly an amazing thing, a lot of it is in the fingers.

Read Ariane Cap’s answer to How difficult is it to convert from fretted to fretless bass playing? on Quora

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2 Replies to “Converting to fretless?”

  1. I bought an exact copy of my main fretted bass, removed the frets, and filled the grooves with white epoxy. Then I put my tuner in my signal chain on the floor at my feet. When I knew I was out I used the tuner to help me tell flat from sharp. One more thing. Turn down the highs and mids. Get the blues/reggae tone in tune with no slides and work the brighter tones and slides in later.

    1. That’s perfect, then all distances will be the same per default! You are handy. I had an Alembic Elan that I turned into a fretless. Had a nice growl. Sold it to a friend.
      Intonation practice – yes!

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