Great 4-String Fretless
I started to lock in on the American Standard Jazz Fretless, but I wasn’t quite sold. I found the Tony Franklin Fretless on the Sweetwater website, and I ultimately decided to go with it instead – it had a lot of nice upgrades over the MIA Jazz Fretless for not much more money.
Switchable P/J pickups vs. J/J pickups
P Bass Neck is a little wider (to me, this is a plus)
Hipshot D-tuner installed
Chrome Knobs vs. Plastic
Ebony Fingerboard vs. Rosewood (Ebony is more durable)
Unlined Fingerboard vs. Lined (to me, a cosmetic plus)
Nitro Finish vs. Urethane
To me, the pickup upgrade is a real plus. This bass can sound just like a P bass or just like a Jazz bass. It can be played in a way that is punchy and almost does not sound like a fretless (P pickup). It can also sound very fretless (J pickup).
Also, the nitro finish is another big plus. I was a little worried that it would be sticky like a gloss urethane finish, but the nitro finish is extremely fast and smooth, and not at all sticky. This is now my preferred finish.
The bass is much better made than I expected it to be (maybe I didn’t have a fair opinion of Fender). There were some tiny cosmetic blemishes on the fingerboard and at the bottom of the pick-guard, but the overall construction is great – the nitro finish was done really well. For a P bass, this is surprisingly light and well balanced. It is very easy to play and sounds great.
I had Sweetwater install GHS heavy gauge brite-flats and strap-locks. They did a great job with these items as well as the overall setup.
On the downside, this is still a fairly expensive instrument that you will likely have to buy before you try. Still, I would highly recommend this bass if you are interested in a 4-string fretless.