Having a moral crisis…

I know there’s video after video saying don’t get a 5 string until you need a 5 string. Well that kind of talk just makes me want one more.

So I’ve been playing around with 5 string basses a lot lately. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I trying playing them, the muscle memory for songs I already know takes a flying leap out of the nearest window. That low B, though. I love how it rattles windows.

Today, however, something unexpected happened. The store had a fretless 4 string. I’ve always seen the fretless basses as a “virtuoso” type of instrument; reserved for the likes of Charles Berthoud and such. Also, I had never seen a fretless at any of my local stores before. Of course I had to try it….

So try it I did and I surprised the heck out of myself. Not only could I play it but I could play it as well as I can play my normal 4 string (granted, that bar is rather low but still). Not only that but it sounded and felt amazing.

Maybe it’s just the afterglow of trying something new but I can stop thinking of that fretless now.

So now, if someYouTuber came up to me and said “yo, I’m making a video for the views. Here is a 5 string bass and a fretless 4 string. You can have one.” I honestly don’t know which I would pick at this point.

Both have their pros and cons in my book. 5 string: lots more note options and that boom but possible strong difficultly switching between a 5 and my 4 strings. Fretless: would not want to try learning a song for the first time on it plus fewer options and price points available but hot dang it was fun to play.

So that’s my moral dilemma. Bass world problems I know but I need to come up with an answer because I know I’ll be getting a new bass for Father’s Day.

Or I could really shoot my self in the foot and get a 5 string fretless.


Which is why it is hard to just own one or two or three basses. We can argue forever on the exact number, but I would put it somewhere above 5 and below 10 'cause then you will have most options covered, one way or another. (You can find more extreme cases - to both sides - here as well, but let them stay out there at the fringes (of sanity) :wink:)

Also, eventually you WILL get both a 5-string and a fretless (and perhaps a 5-string fretless). You may not own them forever, you may not overly care for one or the other and sell one or all again, but it’s almost a given that you will own one of these at some point. Might as well get started :grin:

Welcome to the world of bass gear - see the GAS thread for, erm, advice :joy:


Oh no doubt. I’m mostly talking about which to get next.


To paraphrase Tina Turner: What’s morality got to do with it?

This isn’t a moral dilemma. It’s a question of GAS that only you can answer.

Occam would likely suggest to get both. As @joergkutter says, you might keep one or both briefly, or not. But you will have the chance to get jiggy with ‘em for a while, and that’s where the fun is.


I recently had a similar experience with a Squier fretless at my local shop. Never played one before that but fell in love with it right away, went back a week later and bought it, still love playing it! So that’s my vote.


So glad it isn’t just me. Even though i got a 5 string just a few months ago, i ordered the esp ltd 204b fretless last week. Hopefully it should arrive at the music store this coming week.
I wish you all the best in resolving your dilemma-if i could offer any advice, it would be this-guitar racks are pretty cheap.:yum:



I was very lucky when I made the purchase(s) there was not cool bass police present, so I just Gas away, lol.

Well, definitely try to get both as both can do what your current can do and more. I’m going through that phrase again where I like my 5 strings.

So get yourself one one this

Then one of this it’s ok you can reverse the order

Then when you feel warm and gooey inside and ready, get one of this

That’s it except for rinse and repeat, lol.


If you want to join a support group that will enable you, here is a link to the Fretless Fan Club thread:

I had a similar experience/journey as yours to buying a fretless as my second bass. (The first fretless I ever tried was a 5-string. However, I wound up buying a 4-string fretless.)


I had my eye on an ESP. Let me know how you like it when you get it, please!


I have recently built a 5 string and a 4 string fretless.
I haven’t got into the 5 string very much but I haven’t put the fretless down much since I finished it, to the point that I picked up a fretted on to play something but went straight back to the fretless.


It’s usually the when. I was a diehard 5ver then covid happened then 4 string it is. Then Fretless, then 5 strings. In the middle of it all, there’s also Jazz bass, P bass and musicman string spacing, 35” scale and 32” scale and 30” scale. Definitely don’t want to talk about strings, lol.


Definitely not talking about strings but, I originally had tapewound strings on the fretless, when I rebuilt it I put on Rotosound 77s, now I am happy :slight_smile:


As soon as i got it in my grubby fists I’ll post some pictures. And as i recall, playing it was a dream.

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I had this same experience- was waiting for a salesman in a music store one day and picked up an Ibanez while waiting. I didn’t even notice it was fretless until 15 minutes later when the salesman said - “Nice - you do really well with that fretless!” The Ibanez was so light and ergonomic in my hands, the price was right, I put flats on it, played about a month till my band mates told me to lose the fretless - it didn’t fit our sound. Haven’t played it much since. It’s still light and ergonomic and lovely - just not useful for my development at this stage.


Yep, 100% been there. My last 2 basses were 5 strings. I was sitting in a guitar shop and caught myself with a 4 string and thinking “It’s been so long… have I forgotten how to play a 4 string?” Then I noticed it was a short scale! Next thing I knew…


If you have good fretting technique, going from 4st fretted to 4st fretless is pretty easy. I found 5 string relatively easy too, 5 string is definitely the hardest if you play 4 string most of the time… my bass also has a 17.5mm string spacing which is another thing to get used to. One thing you can do is choose to have a high C instead of a low B which gives a nice range for melodic playing.

None of it’s hard, it’s just whatever you get used to. I played only fretless bass for a couple of months, I found that it was more difficult going back to fretted bass after than it was going to fretless in the first place :laughing:

I play more 5st songs than i do “fretless” songs but if you just want to play everything on it and you don’t specifically have a need for a 5st, I think a 4 st fretless is more practical.

It’s more of a quandary and anytime you ask a question here about buying something, the advice will almost always be to buy it, all of it, as much as you can :grin:


But of course!

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Hah! This was too funny- I play this same bass in the “mint green” variety, but have been thinking about 5 strings. Have you found yourself gravitating back towards the 5s?