Why did I buy it?
A few years back I was playing bass a lot but on a circuit with a couple other really amazing bass players. As they could generally outplay me I decided to specialise in fretless as this was something slightly unique. I went to the bass cellar on Denmark Street and they had one of these at a massively reduced price because of a ding on the body and a broken pickup (the picture is not mine but it’s the same model/colour/year). I got the active pick-up fixed and it has worked well ever since.
How does it sound?
I find basses are far more dependent on the amplifier than guitars are – I have had a crap bass sound amazing through a Ampeg stack and great basses sound crap through small amps. In general I choose basses due to their feel rather than sound, however I do quite like the musicman humbuckers especially when you pick closer to the bridge and also the active pick-ups (the EQs seem to actually DO something in the active circuit whereas a number of passive basses i’ve tried seem unaffected by the onboard EQ’s). Without frets slap doesn’t work on this bass but everything else feels great. I was worried at first I might have trouble finding notes (and even played through a tuner set on chromatic mode to check myself) however it’s not actually too hard so long as you can hear yourself quite well. Instead of flat-wound strings I like normal bass strings as they sound punchier but do mark the fret board a bit and probably would cause problems over a number of years, however for the amount that I play it the marks are not a major problem. The neck does seems to bend a little bit (or maybe as a guitarist I’m just not used to such long necks) however the beauty with a fretless is that overall intonation does not really matter – you can change it yourself with a roll of the finger!
Keep or sell?
I’ve had this five or six years and am very happy with it. Of course fretless might not suit everyones style, however for the mainly jazz / classic rock stuff that I play this works as well as a fretted bass. It’s also quite nice to come to a practice, get it out of the case and have everyone say “ooo a fretless” as there seems to be a strange belief that fretless basses are harder to play – they are not! I now feel far more at home on a fretless bass than I do on a fretted one, and love all the glissandos that you can pull off – definitely a keep.