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Fretless bass for under $350 USD (way under!)


The rarely seen inexpensive fretless bass. It exists.

Above is the Stagg SBF-40, which at the time I write this is not just under $350 but under $300. If you're in the market for a fretless, grab this one now.

What's the big deal with fretless bass?

Fretless electric bass is a weird animal in more ways than one.

First it should be said that if you intend to buy one of these, consider switching to flatwound strings. Not only will it make the fingerboard last longer, but more importantly get "the sound of fretless" by eliminating string drag noise. To my ear, a proper fretless bass sound is one where you hear no drag. This drag I speak of is the sound of your fret hand finger literally dragging on the string as you move it up and down the neck. With flats, there is no drag noise. Also remember that tapewound strings can also get "that sound" too.

Second, fretless bass is a sound that sampling has never been able to recreate accurately. With picked bass, sure, you can emulate that with a synthesizer easily. But fretless? No. You need the real thing. Samplers and synths can't (and will never) be able to recreate the sonic nuances of fretless bass play.

Third - and this is the part I find most interesting - I have no idea why there aren't more cheap fretless basses. One would think all the electric bass manufacturers would be churning out these things since they are cheaper to make due to the fact there are no frets on the neck. There's really no reason why companies that churn out cheap fretted basses by the thousands can't do the same for fretless models. For whatever reason, you just don't see cheap fretless options often. This being true, whenever you see a cheap fretless like the Stagg, you grab it.

The Stagg above is priced exactly as it should be for what it is. Under $300, individual string saddles with a lot of adjustment for easy intonation, easy controls and a design that has no neck dive.

Again, if you want a fretless and want it cheap, get this one. For most bassists or even the hobbyist player that wants to get into fretless for cheap, this is as good as it gets on the low end (ha ha, bad pun yeah I know.)

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