#1
Just something running through my head, why are basses more often found fretless than guitars? Never made any sense, surely the sustain, slides, etc would be better, and thinner strings is less wear on the fretboard?
#2
because a fret-less instrument is hard to play in tune and on guitar to do chords would make even major chords a bit of a stretch cus when theirs no frets u half to hold it ant the right location or its flat or sharp bass you are usually only playing 1 note at a time and if ur out of tune a little bit its not as noticeable
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#4
the first basses (and violins, cellos etc) never had frets, yet the predecessor of the guitar, the lute, mandolin, etc, all had frets. The guitar just evolved from a different instrument.

And it is not as practical for working with chords and stuff, as stated above.
#5
Quote by GordianKn0t
Just something running through my head, why are basses more often found fretless than guitars? Never made any sense, surely the sustain, slides, etc would be better, and thinner strings is less wear on the fretboard?

because the bass started out as the double bass, which has no frets. when the electric bass guitar was made, they made it with frets, probably to make it a "guitar" and to be easier to play. thats why the fender P bass or precision bass is called that. it has frets so its exactly where the notes are (in theory) so its easier to play.

chords is not the reason. you can still play chords on a fretless instrument. the reason you dont see a lot of fretless guitars is because they are not in high demand. also, they never evolved from a fretless instrument. the reason why you see more fretless basses is because a lot of bass players started on or also play the double bass (or stand up bass). so a number of bass players like to be able to play a fretless electric bass guitar.
Last edited by Blind In 1 Ear at Oct 20, 2009,
#6
Blind In 1 Ear

chords is not the reason. you can still play chords on a fretless instrument. the reason you dont see a lot of fretless guitars is because they are not in high demand


it's true you can but it's more difficult and wildly impractical. classical guitar required the player to play intricate chordal passages which would have been nigh impossible on a fretless. It's not entirely because of demand the horse is before the cart there, they arent in high demand because there are few benifits albeit nicer slides and such but the pros outweigh the cons.
no one is arguing they arent in high demand, or that the guitar evolved from a fretted instrument, i am asserting that the family of instruments is fretted due to the necessity for precision when playing chords.
#7
Quote by stephen_rettie
it's true you can but it's more difficult and wildly impractical. classical guitar required the player to play intricate chordal passages which would have been nigh impossible on a fretless. It's not entirely because of demand the horse is before the cart there, they arent in high demand because there are few benifits albeit nicer slides and such but the pros outweigh the cons.
no one is arguing they arent in high demand, or that the guitar evolved from a fretted instrument, i am asserting that the family of instruments is fretted due to the necessity for precision when playing chords.

i suppose. but sure, no one is arguing those things but he asked for reasons and those are a few. the guitar didnt come from a fretless instrument so you wouldnt have crossover from fretless players to fret players like you do with bass. as for playing intricate chordal stuff, that actually came a lot later in the evolution of the guitar. classical guitar came after the first guitars which had less strings and less frets and werent used for very complex pieces yet. im sure over time they realized what could be done with the guitar, but i dont think it was designed at first to play the kind of stuff it is known for now.

anyways, i think the biggest reason is the crossover in the bass world. you just dont have that on guitar. we could argue all day about the guitar but it just doesnt have the crossover from fretless like bass does.
#8
In addition to the points made about chords and musical evolution already, think about this: a guitarist who wants to play perfect glissando slides, violin-like vibrato, etc. can go out and buy a whole new fretless guitar. Or he could just buy a slide for $5 and accomplish most of the same things. This is not true on bass, where a number of things make playing with a slide far from practical.
#9
Quote by selkies
because a fret-less instrument is hard to play in tune and on guitar to do chords would make even major chords a bit of a stretch cus when theirs no frets u half to hold it ant the right location or its flat or sharp bass you are usually only playing 1 note at a time and if ur out of tune a little bit its not as noticeable


INTERPUNCTION
#10
another reason that people have missed is that building fretless guitars with wooden fretboards just doesnt work. the strings and fretboard material do not sustain particularly well. However, on a bass guitar, where your strings are much thinker, sustain comes a lot more easily.
this is why brands like vigier etc have been using glass/epoxy/metal etc. fretboards.
#11
From defretting one of my guitars, I know that the sustain on the high strings of a guitar is awful (even against an epoxy fretboard). The lower strings have better sustain like a bass' strings.
#12
I'd just like to point out that sustain is not necessarily better on a fretless instrument. If you've ever tried plucking a violin or viola, then you'll know that the sustain is much much shorter than on a guitar. On an instrument with thicker, longer strings (e.g. Cello, Bass, Guitar), sustain when plucking/picking the strings is longer. Sustain is more dependant on the thickness and length of strings than whether or not the instrument has frets or not.

Playing barre chords on a fretless guitar is more or less impossible. To get a fourth in tune on a fretless guitar, your fingers have to be perfectly aligned parallel to the nut (assuming your guitar is in tune and intonated correctly, of course). In the context of a barre chord, this means hugely impractical and almost impossible contortions of your hand to play in tune.

Quote by Tedward
the first basses (and violins, cellos etc) never had frets, yet the predecessor of the guitar, the lute, mandolin, etc, all had frets. The guitar just evolved from a different instrument.

And it is not as practical for working with chords and stuff, as stated above.


Not strictly true. The predecessor of the modern bowed string family was the viol family, which were fretted. The modern bowed string family gradually evolved out of the viols.
Last edited by National_Anthem at Oct 21, 2009,
#13
Quote by National_Anthem
I'd just like to point out that sustain is not necessarily better on a fretless instrument. If you've ever tried plucking a violin or viola, then you'll know that the sustain is much much shorter than on a guitar. On an instrument with thicker, longer strings (e.g. Cello, Bass, Guitar), sustain when plucking/picking the strings is longer. Sustain is more dependant on the thickness and length of strings than whether or not the instrument has frets or not.

The sustain is note shorter because it is fretless, the sustain is shorter because the bridge is different. On a violin the bridge is made of wood which dampens the sound made very quickly (like only partially depressing a string would) so you need to make the noise continuosly, using a bow, to play longer notes. On guitar the metal bridge absorbs a lot less of the sound, allowing the note to ring out for longer.
#14
Quote by 12345abcd3
The sustain is note shorter because it is fretless, the sustain is shorter because the bridge is different. On a violin the bridge is made of wood which dampens the sound made very quickly (like only partially depressing a string would) so you need to make the noise continuosly, using a bow, to play longer notes. On guitar the metal bridge absorbs a lot less of the sound, allowing the note to ring out for longer.


Its more the frettedness. Go get a crappy guitar, take out the frets, put epoxy over the fretboard and you'll see what I mean. Its due to the string vibrating against your finger, rather than a metal fret. The finger absorbs much more vibrations than a piece of metal.
#15
Quote by WishfulShredder
another reason that people have missed is that building fretless guitars with wooden fretboards just doesnt work. the strings and fretboard material do not sustain particularly well. However, on a bass guitar, where your strings are much thinker, sustain comes a lot more easily.
this is why brands like vigier etc have been using glass/epoxy/metal etc. fretboards.

well thats why people usually use heavy strings on a fretless guitar. many people also use an e bow on them to make it more violin/cello like.
#16
Well a fretless guitar would be much harder to play, especially chords and rhythm. But it sounds really cool; Steve Vai's triple neck includes a fretless guitar, which sounds really cool at times.