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Anyone who started off on Fretless....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jbroad572, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Jbroad572


    Oct 5, 2005
    My bass arrives today, I have not purchased a book or an amp yet, but just wanted to get any tips and or suggestions you may have. This is my first bass, I do have a musical background, but any and all help is appreciated. I can't wait to be :bassist: later on.
  2. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    Outstanding way to start learning bass (that is how I learned)!! You definitely want to pick up some books on fretless, I can't tell which ones since it was so many years ago I learned.

    One of the first things you'll have to learn is hand positions. This will help teach your fingers the proper place to go (some people will call it muscle memory). Some exercises you should do (stuff like this will be in the books) is playing fretted notes along with open strings. This will help train your ear as well as your fingers (if you are out of tune with a open string, you should be able to hear it).

    Also get a good tuner and practice with it. This will help develop proper intonation. If your bass has no fret lines, a tuner is a must.

    If your bass does have fret lines, you need to play slightly before the line, not right on top of it. Again, practice with the tuner so you can see for yourself.

    And lastly, practice practice practice!

    Learning to play fretless first will make you so much a better bass player then learning on a fretted first. Trust me, the switch from fretless to fretted is MUCH easier!! Good Luck!
  3. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    I did, two years ago. I've enjoyed it from the time I picked it up an can't imagine not playing one. Though I do have a fretted bass. and FWIW I'm not a pro or even a player, just a student.

    You'll find lots of good advice here and plenty of recommendations so if you don't mind I won't add to the overload.

    Gary Willis has written books especially for fretless players and you might check out his "101 bass tips" for some hints on playing fretless, but any book that teaches bass will teach you what you need.

    One regret I have is not getting better ear training. I'd like to get a few lessons in that.

    Asside from that, practice and have fun. And let us know how you're doing.

  4. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    land of confusion!

    the thing about fretless bass is that its so low that if you do hit a few bum notes ...its not that obvious.
  5. Jbroad572


    Oct 5, 2005
    Well, I got it in and bought an amp as well... I don't know what I'm doing so far, but I recorded myself through my mixer. I thought the bass would have fret lines down the side of the neck, but I was mistaken, just where the dot markers are. I think a new set of strings would be nice, because these seem cheesy and I don't like the way they feel. I know I have reading to do on that though.

    Here's a small mp3 clip, nothing special at all... just having some fun trying to do something.
  6. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    I started waaaay off on fretless;)

    Sorry couldn't resist:D
  7. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    My first bass I ever played on was a lined Yamaha fretless. It was the school's bass, I played it for one year, then the school upgraded their basses. Haven't had a fretless since, I have played a few. I'm GASing one though.
  8. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    You're probably right to change strings.
    I'd recommend flat wounds. There are lots out there, experimenting can be fun. I have TI Jazz Flats, which seem to be very popular (they have a lighter gauge and lower tension, that bothers some guys). D'Addario chromes seem to be another one I hear a lot about.

  9. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    My first bass was fretless.
    Make sure your bass is setup properly.
    It makes all the difference.
  10. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    I wouldn't, but it will depend on what sound your looking for.

    You said the stings were" cheezy" -not sure what that means, but if you are saying they are not bright and aggressive sounding for you - then they probably are flatwounds and you'll be wanting some roundwounds instead.

    Steel strings are the brightest but are hard on your fingers and fretboard. Since you're just starting, I'd stay away form these for a bit.

    Nickle wound strings are still bright and punchy but feel better and will be easier on your fretboard - that's what i like.

    To me, flatwounds sound pretty dull and lifeless. If you want a real smooth jazz sound maybe those' do for you though.

    That's one sharp looking thumper, by the way - me likes!!!
  11. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005

    Those will still help you find your way around, though i'm sure it seems like "so where do i start" right now.

    Usually these dots are different from the dots on a fretted bass. On a fretless the dots will be 'at the note' whereas on a fretted bass the fret is 'at the note' so the dots, moreless, outline positions. It's hard to explain w/out demonstrating - i hope i didn't confuse you :meh:

    Maybe you have a friend that has a fretted bass you could borrow for a bit - may help you understand where the notes are and how they should sound.

    Or if you have a piano....you said you have a "music background" - i think you'll be on your way pretty quickly. :)
  12. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005
    Well...kind of. Your finger is acually replacing the fret's job of creating the note. Therefore the front end of your finger, theoretically, should be where the fret would be. Though in doing so, it will appear that your finger is, sort of, behind the fretline. So, yes the majority of your finger will be behind the line.

    And I say "theoretically" because your finger's relationship to the fretline will actually change somewhat depending on where you are on the neck and how the bass is intonated.


    And don't stop there! There is some unbelieveble cool and useful stuff on that sight. Props to G Willis!

    'Course it dosn't look like you have lines anyways :D Still good stuff though

  13. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    This is just my personal opinion, and it may not be worth much, BUT!

    I say don't buy any books. Don't take any lessons. Teach yourself how to play using the most basic knowledge, like which strings are which and such. Develop your own techniques and things, and then a bit later, a few months or a year down the road, if you still want some instruction, buy some books or take lessons.

    I just feel like it's better for players to start of all on their own, and later incorporate outside influences. Does that make sense?
  14. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY

    Not to me Penny. I'd rather learn the rules and break them later, it's more fun when you know what it is you're tearing down. I've also found that a lot of people know things I don't and it's a lot faster and easer for me to learn from them.
    I can develop my own techniques based on what I learn, not what I think I know.
    But then, so what? You can do what you want. Over and over again.

  15. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    For just begining, you are off to a great start! Bass sounds nice, no fibs or anything. I think you're off to a great start! ;)
  16. Jbroad572


    Oct 5, 2005
    I don't know how to tell if it's setup correctly. I will let my bass player at church check it out and see what he thinks. He was telling me before I got it that a "setup" is a personal thing, but hopefully he can steer me in the right direction.

    Regarding the frets, or lack thereof hehe... I am kind of like... "o....k, where do I start". I know the space between notes is pretty wide up top and of course gets smaller as you go down the board, when I go down the board is where I get worried. I was going to look at a fretted bass and see where the dots lie and relate that to mine, but I didn't know they were in different locations than on a fretted. I am assuming that shouldn't matter too much from the way you described it though. IT just means that instead of the dots being in between the frets it's actually where the fret would have been? I think when practicing out of my book I'll just keep my bass hooked up to the tuner. From there I will try to listen and memorize the positions.

    Thanks for all the replies and help so far, it is greatly needed and appreciated.
  17. Jbroad572


    Oct 5, 2005
    Thanks! I keep wanting to slap and get that funk sound, but then I remembered I decided to start on a fretless :D As fun as it is, I may be ordering another from Rondo within a week or 2, but I have to keep telling myself I need that money for other things.... but Im sure everyone knows how GAS is.

    It's fun just playing around trying to find the notes that you hear in your head. It's surprising how natural it seems as well, to just be able to find a note, then go to the string above or below and be right on target (of course a few cents out of tune, but close nonetheless).
  18. Jbroad572


    Oct 5, 2005
    Wow! Those bad boys are $80 am I looking at the right ones? I wish I could tell you what kind of strings I have on there now, but they are kind of dull. I'll have to read about the different type of strings to see what I might like better for the sound I'm going for.
    Here are 2 better pics...
  19. Bassosaurus


    Aug 27, 2005
    That's right. So it actually does make sense that way. I'm not going to say all fretlesses are like that either, but i think that's pretty much standare - the way i described it.

    Good thinking - use your ears too! if you've had some music training it will help immensly.
  20. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY