a few Q's about fretlesses:

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Casey C., May 6, 2002.

  1. Casey C.

    Casey C.

    Sep 16, 2000
    Butler, PA, USA
    Since there is not a fret for the string to be fretted on, will I have to position my finger to where the fret would be?

    Also, I plan on constructing a fretless. Where can I get the fretting lines or the materials to make them?
  2. yes. any contrasting color wood would work well for fretlines (ebony board, maple lines)
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    You could also make the lines out of a darker wood, so that people at a distance would think you were playing an unlined fretless.;)
  4. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    where you play on the board depends on your action/neck releif.
  5. SRSiegel

    SRSiegel Guest

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    my carvin just has white styrene inlaid into the board at the positions. not the most expensive or elegant material... but it works. personally if i could do it again i would get a bass without fretlines... only side dots. the lines can never be perfectly on the note... as PortraitOfTracy mentioned. side dots are only an approximation. Just like an upright bass (ive played one for 7 years) or a trombone you will eventually learn where all the notes are without looking at the fingerboard. its worth it, trust me.
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    while this is true in a theoretical sense, it's not really relevant in real world practice. the variance in different action/string height/relief settings consists of amounts so small that they would have very little impact on proper finger placement - remember, fretted basses have the frets there independant of neck relief and action.
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    No!! NO!!:(
    You will have to place the finger where the note you want is in tune!!!!

    which never is (exactly) where the fret would have been:rolleyes:

  8. This is quite true - as I never exactly get my finger on the line on my fretless. It's just as well really;)

    To be honest, the lines on my fretless seem so far to be pretty accurate. Once the bass is in tune, I play the note on the line and it has worked so far - although I haven't played much passes the twelfth line, so I'm not sure about the upper registers (although the intonation seems to be good!)
  9. I think that within reason this can be said to be true However, a fretless can be setup to such a point as where the note is most accurate on the line, up until say the 12th fret. This is what i have done.

    It is then a case of techinique change. As you approach the 15th + you have to reallt hear the note you playing and adjust you fingers. Because of the smaller distance betwee 2 notes you tend to have to play in the middle, between the 2 notes, or if you have smaller fingers, at least a full finger width behind where the 'fretline' would be.

    All in all you have to use your ears, if you have fretlines check you intonation with a tuner and the same can be said fo fretli without lines, check you posistioning with a chromatic tuner. However don't become complaicent and lazy by relying too much on the markers. Soon you will know when a notes sharp, flat or just about right.

    Fretless bass should allow you to be much more creative and break free of those little metal bars, but you have to really work on it. Many people assume that fretless is not their thing because they get frustrated by it. It is harder than playing fretted, but having both skills under your belt can only help you as a musician.

  10. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Is it fretlesses, fretli or fretlum?????
  11. As a newbie at fretless (last Wednesday:eek: )...

    Is this the 'muscle memory thingy that folks on here talk about? I'm totally reliant on the lines although I'm learning to hear where my fingers are going rather than just throwing them at the required fret.

    OK, I don't want pitch errors, but at first glance it appears that small variations go unheard in the band situation. But they gloriously stand out to proclaim my status when playing alone:rolleyes: Is that fair comment or am I totally wrong as usual?

  12. Within the audiable mix, that is a band, any mistakes made with usually get lost, or if you do notice it its a good thing as you know how to adjust you fingers to deal with hitting the correct note.

    I think muscle memory applies here. Soon you'll find you hitting the notes in just about the right places. The best thing to do is play a favourite musical phrase, play it on a fretted just to remind youself what it sounds like, then break out the fretless and work on it without watching where your fingers are going for the first 8 bars or so. Then if it's sounding ok, have a look to see how near you are> Look away agian and adjust you fretting hand accordingly until your happy your playing the phrase right.

    I've found that by playing music i'm familiar with on fretted, then playing it on fretless, i instinctively know when it's sounding good, and when i'm hitting the bum notes.

    We all notice our mistakes when playing alone, and this a good thing, if we didn't, we wouldn't be very good at what we were trying to accomplish. By working away on intonation you'll find that when you do start playing without looking at the lines, you'll be hitting more notes than you'd expect.

    I try to play with my ears, i'll aways check my positioning, just to be sure. BUt i've found that by training your ears from the start, it helps all areas, not just my fretless playing.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    And if you have one of those days when nothing sounds right... take a break.
  14. Agreed!! :)

    Theres nothing more destructive than your own frustration.

  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    can i get an amen?

  16. I've had a few of these days recently... This is sage-like advice right here.
  17. Casey C.

    Casey C.

    Sep 16, 2000
    Butler, PA, USA
    Wow, thanks for the help guys :)

    I think I will give fretless a try. I want to get a fretless to play for my churchs folk group. I'm not really religous, nor am I into folk, but I need to play with a band and learn to play better and I feel that will be a start.

    Well, as for furbishing a fretless, what should I know? Any suggestions? parts, electronics, etc.? I was thinking of making a 5 string that looks like the carvin claro walnut series. Different body shape of course :)
  18. This now becomes a lot harder. It's good to have the ambition to build your own bass, but it can require a lot of research work in order to produce and instrument that is A; the one you've been dreaming about for 6,7,8 months and B; one thats playable.

    There are a few good pages out there on this kind of thing, but i think the best thing you could possibly do is hold off breaking out the clamps and buying a lot of expensive wood and get yourself to a good bass store. Play as many fretless basses and find out what makes the basses you like, sound like they do.

    I think that until you can comprehend what goes into building a bass, it's an uneven road to building one.

    I and a lot of memebers here have played with the idea of building basses and have done alot ofresearch( i don't know your background so if any of this sounds patronishing, opps sorry),, back to it,, an we've done a lot of reading, posting and bothering of some of the best builders we can find in our local area, we understand a lot of the principles and have replied to a lot of messages in the years, but many, including myself have not taken up the task of building our own instruments. While it is not an impossible tasks, men and women make their living at this because it's such a skilled job.

    Don't let me put you, or anyone else off, i'm currently under going the preperation to building an all maple Jazz 5. But many people have come here bery inthusiastic and have never got passed the designing stages, there are more horror stories out there and triumps, but we all have to start somewhere,,

    So all in all get yourself in the luthiers corner, get out ask a lot of questions, get to know the woods that make that mwah and geta good book.

    I have melvin Hiscox's book, which i highly reccomend,,,

    Just do you research and it will help you out later :)


    P.s sketching is good, get doodling and get them posted, it's always good to show your ideas of neck, body and headstock design before you build, that way we can point out if theres any hint of a problem with it ;)
  19. Last week I played a gig on fretless bass and all the way through the sound check everybody sounded great. We took a break and when we came back, someone had turned on the air conditioning in the theater, probably changing the temperature by at least 15 degrees F. Nobody bothered to recheck their tuning before starting. The first song started with acoustic guitar and the band came in at various places. I didn't notice anything funky here since I was playing and guiding my pitch relative to the guitar. The second tune was a strong piano tune. This is when I realized my bass (and probably the guitar) had gone about 1/4 step flat. I adjusted my tuning on the fly, but the guitarist did not. For the rest of the set, no matter what I played, I couldn't sound in tune. If it sounded in tune with the piano, it clashed with the guitar and vice versa. Not a good night for tuning I guess.
  20. Casey C.

    Casey C.

    Sep 16, 2000
    Butler, PA, USA
    I'm a head of you on a few of those notes...

    I have been making sketches of basses to get an idea of what type of body I might want. I have scanned a few acually. I was planning on putting them together on a web site but haven't had the chance to do so yet.

    As far as the creation goes, my dad is good with wood working so that helps. I plan on making some prototypes out of cheaper woods such as poplar so I can get the idea of contructing.

    I plan on researching other basses as well. The problem I might have is the lack of fretless basses in the area. I live in a small suburb so I have 2 'basic' music stores locally. The nice ones are an hour drive so that limits me in a way.

    I still need to buy some books though...

    I really want to make my own instruments because I'm extremely picky with my GAS. I always find something wrong with a bass that turns me off about it. Also, I have alot of wants when it comes to music. I want a 5 string fretless, I want a 4 string with certain pickups, and so you get the point. The only way to get those is to get a custom made bass and they can be costy (except with DP, but even that can be out of my price range with my wants).