It would be easy to look at the price of Guild’s B-240EF and assume it’s just another low-end acoustic/electric bass – except that it plays like a much more expensive four-string and is a blast to explore.
Who might want a four-string acoustic fretless? If a traditional electric fretless conjures images of jazz-rock fusion bassists (Jaco, anyone?), the fretless acoustic is more adept at bringing that jazzier dimension to other genres, providing a decent imitation of a stand-up bass. Certainly, if you play a coffeehouse, the B-240EF can be useful for evoking bop-bass. Same with jam bands or intimate outdoor gigs.
With a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany sides, back, and neck, the B-240EF is capable of a pleasantly warm, super-low tone; acoustically or plugged in, you’ll luxuriate in the deep, bottom-of-the-sea tones. The Guild’s jumbo body is large and resonant, and scalloped X-top bracing further contributes to its expansive tone. The Guild/Fishman Bass Sonitone preamp delivers the sonic goods for live work or recording.
The bass’ 30″-scale neck has a comfortable C shape and its pau ferro fingerboard uses 23 inlaid fret markers to make grabbing notes as easy as possible (if you haven’t played a fretless, remember to land on the fret line, not behind it). Keep in mind that the B-240EF ships with roundwound strings, so that “side to side” fretless vibrato isn’t as easy as on flatwounds, but roundwounds presumably sound better on an acoustic body, so you may want to experiment.
Combining classic acoustic looks, a curvy jumbo shape, and fine import construction, the B-240EF delivers a terrific playing experience that may make fretted bassists green with envy. Again, that price tag seems out of whack with the quality of this fine instrument. Stop fretting and start slidin’ – the B-240EF is a great deal.
This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.