Best Fretless Bass Guitars That Will Add Some Groove to Your Lines
In addition to their sleek elegant design, fretless basses give you much more freedom, as they allow you to make sweet slide transitions and explore notes outside of the traditional Western Standard range.
If you have decided to enter the world of fretless bass or you just want to upgrade your fretless bass to a new one, you’re faced with plenty of products coming from different manufacturers at different price ranges.
To help you make your choice, I've created a list of four highly-capable fretless bass guitars.
4 Best Fretless Basses to Raise Your Scales to the Next Level
Here are my picks for the best fretless bass guitars that are liked by most bassists. I made sure to include products from various price ranges, so amateurs and professionals alike can find a suitable option for themselves.
A familiar name in the music industry, Squier is well-known for their budget-friendly versions of iconic Fender products. One of those products is the Precision Bass, of which Squier has made their own version that performs admirably in its price range. One look at it and you’ll instantly see the family resemblance.
Being a Precision Bass, it features the classic split single-coil Precision Bass pickup which gives it the signature punchy, deep tone. It also sports the standard “modern C” profile maple neck with an ebonol fretboard. Although fretless, the fret lines are still marked, so you’ll find your way up and down the neck quite easily.
The Squier Fretless Precision Bass is a great choice if you’re not ready to invest in a premium product but you don’t want to sacrifice sound or playability. Inlaid fret lines are definitely a plus.
With the Ibanez SRF700 we have officially reached the “professional instruments” territory. This fretless bass looks as elegant as it sounds, with a beautiful matte sunburst finish and an abundance of impressive features.
It sports piezo pickups (connected to Bartolini MK-1 pickups) that sound surprisingly good, especially considering the bad rep piezos have gotten for their overstated mids.
When it comes to tone, the SRF700 doesn’t disappoint. The five-piece maple/bubinga thru-neck allows great sustain and impressive tone, while the six knobs give you the opportunity to tweak all the details you need to create the original sound you’re aiming for.
If you’re looking to make a long-term investment in a great instrument, you can’t go wrong with this Ibanez.
If you’re a professional musician that puts quality over price, you’re exactly who Fender had in mind when creating this instrument. Fender paid tribute to one of the most influential bassists of all time with this fretless bass.
It sports some of the most recognizable features of his original Jazz Bass – signature 3-color sunburst, Jaco Tribute neck plate, and the Jazz Bass single-coil pickups. It is even devoid of a pickguard – just like his original model.
The combination of premium tonewood (select alder) and pickups results in a heavenly smooth sound that can be both subtle and punchy when needed. Just like the Squier Precision Bass, the Jaco Pastorius model also has inlaid fret lines to help you orientate up and down the fretboard.
This whole instrument feels extremely well-made and plays perfectly. If you’re a professional looking for a high-end fretless bass, this would be my recommendation.
The fourth entry on my list is an entry-level fretless bass that is perfect if you’re just learning to play this instrument and you’re not sure whether you’re going to like it.
It comes at a very reasonable price, so even if you end up disliking the idea of a fretless bass – you won’t have wasted a fortune on an instrument you’ll never play again.
But, don’t get fooled by its price tag – play with it enough, tweak some settings, and you’ll find that this instrument is capable of producing a solid tone. It combines J-style and P-style pickups fitted on a Basswood neck, and tops it off with a rosewood neck that allows for easy transitions.
This bass doesn’t impress with tone quality like some other entries on the list, but it can give you a great picture of how it feels to play a fretless bass at a decent price.
The Final Word
I hope my list helps you find the right fretless bass to suit your playing style and level of experience.
The world of fretless basses is full of exciting opportunities for experimenting with unique sounds. Whether you’re just getting into fretless basses or looking to upgrade your old one, the tone quality and playability are the most important factors that should affect your decision. If possible, try them all out and choose the ones that make it easy to find those sweet spots on the neck without even looking.
Remember, because of the absence of frets, these basses sound much smoother and warmer than a regular bass. So, don’t try comparing fretless basses to your regular bass – rather compare fretless basses to each other.