Inlays on a Fretless Bass Neck - Do they ruin the sound?

PrestonSF

Active member
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56
I've seen some cool modified fretless basses with the abalony or ebony block inlays still in from the fretted neck...  obviously if you're playing right on the fret-line, it's just wood, but that's not the point of a fretless...  anybody had any good/bad tone results from a fretless neck built with large non-wood or contrasting wood inlays?  I think it looks cool to have the blocks instead of the fret lines in wood veneer, but I'm hesitant to have a neck built that way because I'm worried it might screw up my dream of learning Arabic and Indian scales with quarter tones...  like I would ever actually put in that much practice and memorization.... :)

Lemme know what you think.  :rock-on:
 

line6man

Senior member
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6,443
I can't remember who it was, but there was a high end bass builder that preferred not to have any inlay work done on a fretless, as it supposedly interferes with the tone.
I honestly don't think that fretlines can do any harm, but in theory, block inlays could be a problem.
I saw a video of a guy playing a fretless Jazz bass with block inlays on YouTube once, but i have never seen anyone else play with blocks.

What do you mean by blocks instead of fretlines?

To be honest with you, i think that unlined is the best choice is your serious about weird harmonics and temperaments and quarter tones.
Unlined gets you to sort of "think outside the box" from the traditional fret positions.



 

AToE

Active member
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88
Unlined and with no side markers is your best bet for odd temperament training. The more you base your playing off what you hear, the better your intonation will become.

Tonewise, big blocks of abalone or fake pearl are definitly going to be brighter than the rest of the neck, different woods probably wouldn't be much of an issue by comparison anyways.
 

line6man

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6,443
AToE said:
Unlined and with no side markers is your best bet for odd temperament training.

It's easy to find your way around most classical stringed instruments with no inlays of any kind, but an electric bass on the other hand has a super long neck that's easy to get lost on...
It probably wouldn't be too difficult to play with no position markers if you practice, and you shouldn't be looking at the dots very much to begin with, but they definitely help you out if you lose your position.

IMO, its more trouble than it's worth to omit the side dots, and I don't see how they would hinder you in any way to begin with.
 

AToE

Active member
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88
line6man said:
AToE said:
Unlined and with no side markers is your best bet for odd temperament training.

It's easy to find your way around most classical stringed instruments with no inlays of any kind, but an electric bass on the other hand has a super long neck that's easy to get lost on...
It probably wouldn't be too difficult to play with no position markers if you practice, and you shouldn't be looking at the dots very much to begin with, but they definitely help you out if you lose your position.

IMO, its more trouble than it's worth to omit the side dots, and I don't see how they would hinder you in any way to begin with.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'd be totally lost without mine! But for exotic intonations I think the more we can forget about our system the better we can learn. That said, you're probably right, side marker probably wouldn't really interfere, since they don't mark the actual fretlines.
 

PrestonSF

Active member
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56
I'm talking about blocks.  Block inlays.  The blocky kind....  The big, blocky, inlaid kind of block inlays.  Not the little circles.  The blocks.  Why?  Cause they look cool and for no other reason than that.  :cool01:
 

line6man

Senior member
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6,443
PrestonSF said:
I'm talking about blocks.  Block inlays.  The blocky kind....  The big, blocky, inlaid kind of block inlays.  Not the little circles.  The blocks.  Why?  Cause they look cool and for no other reason than that.   :cool01:

Yes, i know what block inlays are, but what did you mean by "blocks instead of the fret lines in wood veneer"?
Just block inlays and nothing else?

 

greywolf

Senior member
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1,085
I have block inlays on my 79 Les Paul Custom , I was practicing yesterday an tried to discern any difference between the inlay and ebony ...Nada  , not even a little bit.  This of course is an ebony fretboard . Softer woods maybe different.

Aesthetically I wouldn't go past fretlines and dot's , but to each thier own.
 

stubhead

Senior member
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4,669
I'm pretty sure what the guy is talking about is a jazz bass neck converted to fretless, by pulling the frets then filling the lines. It's hard for me to imagine that a manufacturer would make a bass with soft plastic under the strings, because everybody would be returning them under warranty because of the big gouges worn in the plastic inlays. Unless you were willing to buy a bass with no warranty, or sign a waiver stating you didn't mind big gouges in your neck.  :icon_scratch: You could potentially inlay blocks using hard shell or stone, but that might sound very very weird as you slid over them - good for a novelty song, maybe.
 

line6man

Senior member
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6,443
I heard that the inlays on the Squier Vintage Modified 70's Jazz Bass are just painted on.
That is a finished maple fretboard though, so i am not sure if you would be able to paint on an unfinished fingerboard or not.

+1 to Max though, you can do anything your heart desires if you cover the board in epoxy.
 

greywolf

Senior member
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1,085
+1  Epoxy worked for Jaco ..  as long as it doesn't interact with the material.

If it's MOP or Abalone  your fine
 

line6man

Senior member
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6,443
Be warned though, epoxy coating voids your warranty...
I learned that the hard way with my other neck.
 
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