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Are fretlesses 'clackety'?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by terribilino, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. terribilino


    Nov 22, 2008
    I'd love to get a fretless down the road (when I actually learn to play a bit) because I've always loved the sound of them. I've never played one, and where I live no shop stocks them, so I've been doing my research mainly on youtube.

    I've seen a few vids of people playing fretlesses where you can definitely hear a sort of clackety sound while playing. I get that sometimes from my fretted Precision, so I just assumed it was something that beginning players had to learn to unlearn: a basic problem with technique.

    Here's a video of a guy who works for a music shop in Frankfurt, basically doing a promo video for a 5-string Sandberg. These are definitely nice, well built basses, so the problem, if there is one, wouldn't be with the bass. (You have to start at about 1:34, and then you can hear him play for the next 30 seconds or so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIvjJlBrK2s)

    Is this:

    A. Normal
    B. A problem with the player's fretless technique - a guitar player who's been told to sell a bass (or a bass player who mainly plays fretted and has been given 5 minutes to crank out a promo video for a fretless - please don't let this thread degenerate and become insulting, btw: I totally understand the guy's just making a video to spotlight various features on the bass, he's not making music).
    C. A problem with the recording, ie. the directional microphone on the camcorder is picking up more sound that you'd actually hear if you played.

    Just curious.

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  3. harmendebresser


    Mar 11, 2010
    the Netherlands
    Endorsing Artist: Höfner, Pyramid Strings, Dr. No FX & Asterope cables
    This sounds like your B-option... And, if he is a bassplayer, he's just digging in way too hard!
    That's where most of the clackety comes from in this example.
  4. mobis.fr


    Jun 2, 2005
    B and a little bit of C

    btw that guy is a bass player
  5. I'd vote for B+C. Also, nice bass, got me interested.
  6. I think some of that is because we're hearing the sounds from his microphone and his amp, which might not be what we'd be hearing from just the amp.
  7. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I think he strikes the strings way to hard and the microphone picks more the acoustic sound than the amp sound.
  8. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    that is not a tone I hear often on fretless. A few things:
    * His right hand is pretty far forward (close to the neck), to be plucking that hard.
    * Set up- the action might be too low and/or they may be too much back bow on the neck.

    That tone isn't what I'd call typical.

    I play mostly fretless. My action is sinfully low and I pluck HARD. But, I play way back towards the bridge when I really want the note to pop. If I want more of the "swell" (I can't stand the word mwah), I play towards the neck but, I release the string slower and use a lighter attack.
  9. thudfromafar

    thudfromafar Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    That's a pretty SWEET sound (well maybe except for the clacks). I want that bass!

    It's the technique for sure.... exacerbated by the low action...
  10. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Spade beat me to it, but I'll second his comment. The mic is picking up a lot of the normal acoustic slap of the strings as they thwap the fingerboard here and it wouldn't be that loud just through the amp.

    Also, the player is plucking up close to the neck in this particular example which will really emphasize the fundamental resonance of the string - that'll make the slapping more pronounced.

    And he is a bass player (and IIRC from his other vids, quite a good one too if this is the same guy I was watching before, he was playing a Ken Smith fretted I think).

    My G&L will really slap and clack like this when dug in up near the neck. My Bunny will too, tho it does more of a "clack" than a "slap" or pop....

    So, I say normal for this particular style of playing and the way it's being mic'ed...

  11. All depends on how you eq it. Any bass will click and clack if you use too much mid and highs.
  12. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    I play hard often and dig in a lot for my sound. I have to tone down on my fretless which also has much lighter gauge strings than I'm used to. It takes a lot more finesse to keep from getting clacks by playing too hard on it. It'll sound smooth and mwah but I have to work for it simply because it's a different bass that I play in a slightly different way.
  13. terribilino


    Nov 22, 2008
    Been checking out some more videos, and he is a good bass player, no question (better than I'll ever be, anyway). Here's another one of his vids. Took me a second to figure out it was the same dude without glasses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oCJSUWThnI.

    I suspect, as others have suggested, the mike is picking up a lot of noise. (And maybe he was digging in a bit too much - but to be fair, he does actually mention that he's going for an aggressive tone while his digging in.)
  14. i LOVE the sound of that! all clacks and growls- plus he plays well, with restraint, not all slippery around the neck and sloop-de-doo!!!

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