Not Your Everyday Fretless


"The Stude"

Price Paid:

Where Purchased?:

New or Used:

4 - Good

3 - Okay

5 - Great

Overall Rating:
4 - Good

I arranged to have this fretless bass built by the luthier Steve Wishnevsky of Winston-
Salem, North Carolina. We discussed the specifics and agreed on the price. The final deal was that he would build the bass, but not do the finish work or ship it. I picked it up from his shop and did all of the final finish work myself.
As a result I saved $125 off the list price of the bass. The bass is a neck-through, string-through fretless with one vintage Danelectro pup and a volume knob. The neck is made of 3 pieces of maple with two stringers of purpleheart. The wings are poplar and the fingerboard is locust. It has Grover mini-tuners which really hold well. As a result the only metal on this bass is the pup, wiring, tuners and a brushed aluminum cavity cover. The bridge is a single piece of composite material that must be moved by hand to adjust intonation.
I sanded the bass using three different grades of paper. I then used tack-cloth to ensure it was perfectly clean. The final step was applying two coats of Min-Wax Finishing Paste Wax to protect the wood and to bring out a very hard shine. I replaced the strings with a set of Rotosound Tapewraped flats and the bass produces a very woody growl.
The bass looks unusual and may not appeal to players used to the familiar look of Fender or other mass produced guitars. However, the balance is perfect, the tone is warm with an almost double-bass like sound, and I now have a fretless bass unlike anyone elses. With Wishbass, no two basses are ever alike.
I played a number of fretless basses that can be found at large music stores but chose to have this bass built. The price was certainly affordable, the look fit my sense of style, and the sound is surprisingly good.
Pictures Before and After Finish
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That's a pretty cool bass.

The bass looks cool, Pete. I like the super-deep treble side cutaway, and the overall simplicity. If I HAVE to point out something, it'll have to be the brushed aliminium cavity cover. I think a brass cover woud go better with the overall color scheme of the bass. It might just the be the pics, but it looks a little bright. I bet it looks great "in the flesh" though.
Welcome to the custom bass club!

Brushed Aluminum Cavity Cover

Thanks Thor,

If I had only paid a bit more attention, I would have had the cavity on the the back of the bass with just the knob on the front. However, this is one of the ways that Steve keeps his prices down.



If you don't mind me asking, how much is one of these basses?
I suspect the price would have been a bit higher with the cavity on the back since it involves more work with the routing and the wires. I think Anthony Jackson has a bass with just a volume knob on the front, and it looks super-clean.

Wishbass Cost

They are not very expensive. He builds a lot of them on spec and sells them on EBay. I think the cheapest new one I have seen on EBay was $300 US. I got mine without the final finish buy ordering it directly. Saved a bunch of money. I'm not in the habit of recommending gear because we all have different tastes, but if someone was interested in one of these basses, I would recommend buying direct from Steve, doing the final finish yourself, and work out a price with him. The biggest complaint I read about his basses are that they have cosmetic problems and a poor sprayed on finish. Since I bought direct without a finish I was able to take care of the cosmetic issues myself and then put a finish on it.

It's a fun bass to play, but I haven't had the courage to play it in a live situation because it is unlined and I worry about playing clean notes.


wheat's picture

It still looks great

I think maybe a thin wood cover, perhaps something dark (like the same color that runs down the center of the bass). I love the deep cut away, not that I could play in tune that high on a fretless, but it's nice to have the option. :)