I’ve been trying to buy my local pawnshop’s fretless Yamaha BB350F 4-string bass guitar for a long time. But I keep coming home with a Godin Freeway 4 and an OLP Musicman 5-string clone instead.
But yesterday I robbed my piggy bank, put on my military beret of dubious provenance and bargained like a philistine with my pawnshop boy Tony for this Candy Apple Red P/J style beauty from probably 1990- but so clean.
The bridge pickup vas kaput so he dropped the price to $175USD +tax, down from $279. But it sounds very sweet even mono-pupped. I was so right to try fretless. The tactile feel and the sound of the strings directly on the wood fingerboard is what I was seeking.
I especially like that mwah sound but it is happening randomly and I have no control over it. Practice is indicated.
Condition is very little used despite the pickup problem. The glossy neck is easy to play and pretty with a rosewood fingerboard (I keep thinking ‘fretboard’ but those are just lines, not frets) nearly as dark as ebony.
Despite the aged unknown roundwounds there are no divots or dings in the board.
Playing it was not that different from a fretted bass though the headstock clip-on tuner told me I wasn’t exactly nailing the notes.
How you determine correct intonation on a fretless is a mystery to me, feels so subjective. But I have fallen in love with the sound of the thing.
As a noob I need to mostly stare at the board anyway so no different on the BB 350F fretless.
But I had to stop thinking of the various scale finger box patterns as boxes I needed to more or less hit, and instead think about that precise spot of fingerboard I had to locate to sound the note.
I’ll swap them out for one of the many unlabeled mystery string sets I keep in drawers. Then maybe try flats on it.
I am so stoked I can’t stop playing the Yamaha. Hope I can fix the pickup and actually learn to play it. Fretless is the tone I was looking for.
I also hope Tony and the boys and girls don’t get any more bass pawns. I’m running out of closet space.
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