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Basic fretless questions.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Not Mark Westlake, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. Hi,
    Now I've ended (for now, mwah ha ha ha ha) my GAS for a cab - solved with an Ashdown cab - I've got a hankering for a fretless.

    I've never played one before in my 3 1/2 years of playing bass, so I've got no idea what to expect. I'm going to a shop to try out the bass I'm looking at, a nice fretless 4, but I just wanted to get a few things straight first off...

    Right, so the obvious noob question: What's the easiest way of learning where to fret (or not fret, as the case is) to make sure your intonation and pitch are correct? I can pretty much get bang on the right place on my fretted without checking an stuff, so will that be a help? Is it just down to experience?

    Also, what can you do on a fretless you can't on a fretted, and vice versa? I'm weighing up getting a fretless 4 or a fretted 6, so I'm just trying to work out which would be best, bearing in mind I do all kinds of playing from tapping 'n' slapping to slow sorta stuff to shredding and the like.

    Basically, it'd be really cool if someone could just quickly scribe out a just sorta general guide to fretless playing. I know it's asking a lot, but I'm banking on some people having big hearts (and nothing to do at work!) :p

    Thanks for any help you can give,

  2. personally, I follow the Jaco, Mick Karn, Gary Willis, Steve Lawson and many others' approach- use lined fretless fingerboards.

    the lined vs. unlined subject has been covered quite a bit- search old topics- lots of fretless tips here;

  3. Hey dude your link doesnt work, i'll try and look for the thread your talking about and post it.
  4. Thanks very much to one and all :)

    Food for thought.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Well, it's not as different as you expect. Now, there are lined fretless basses that allow you to see the lines where the frets would be. This gives you some point of referance. Unlined fretlesses are more of an aural experience. You need to use your ears instead of using your eyes.
  6. I tried out a double bass in school today and realised the whole fretless game isn't as hard as I thought it'd be. For my first time, I got most of the notes most of the time, although the difference in scale length from my 34" Yamaha to whatever the hell the DB is kinda messed the party up a bit, but altogether it felt nice.

    Time to go hunt down a fretless to try!

  7. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    One of the best things I have done to work on my intonation was to record a bassline on my fretted bass (with a click reference) and play over (recording to another track) it on the fretless... Your ears will not lie to you!!!
  8. Er, just realised I sound like a bit of an arrogant fool there - I didn't mean it like that! I just meant I'd imagined there to be problems that there just weren't.
  9. I just started playing fretless bass...last week! I originally wanted a lined fretless but from the insistence of some people on here, I might as well go full out and try to learn without lines...I was so determined to play fretless that I'll learn eventually. Having no lines makes you into a better musician, plus it makes you look that more bad-ass. It also keeps pesky guitarists from picking up your bass :)

    Playing without lines isn't that hard, the dots really help. I pretty much have it down, I just have to learn the higher fret positioning a little more, and improve my intonation on the fret positions between the dots - but I treat it like a little game, so it's kind of fun to try to find the place where you're supposed to fret.

    Needless to say, when you play a fretted bass (especially one with rounds while your fretless has flatwounds), you won't look at fretted basses the same way again.
  10. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    I ain't proud, just had my Spector 2000Q5 defretted, and I had him line with maple. Point of reference for now, but in the future I'll likely pick up a stock fretless with no lines. Only been playing it for two weeks now, and loving it. Agree that it's a different world altogether from fretted!

  11. Sorry, but this is utter nonsense.
  12. This is wrong. To get good intonation, you need to use your ears either way. This is one of those myths that should just die a slow and smelly death. Tell Jaco he wasn't using his ears.
  13. Dude, you TOTALLY misunderstood me. I wasn't trying to be snotty with that comment...You read it in an offensive way, as if to think that I was trying to say that people who play unlined fretlesses are elite and the rest can go f**k off, right? Well your interpretation was dead wrong. I just meant that the challenge of having no lines builds better musicianship and hand-ear coordination. I am a better bass player today than I was a couple weeks ago. I have taken on a challenge of learning a different version of my instrument, and it has broadened my playing abilities and scope of musicianship. Had I not learned to play fretless, I don't think my musicianship would have improved all that much in that span of time. --- Which is totally different than saying, "I'm better than all you lined fretless losers." - which was totally not my intent. You read me wrong.
  14. now that's a point :D

    lined vs. unlined, it seems to largely come down to personal preference-
    some people find lines confusing.
    personally, I find dots where a line would be confusing- plus the problem when the neck is at an angle.

    I've got used to lines after about 9yrs since I defretted my Hohner ABG.

    also the context can play a big part- live onstage with loud guitars you may not be able to tell the pitch that well by ear.
  15. Well, actually, I didn't take what you said as snotty or elitist--I just took it as completely mistaken. Which is not the same thing at all. Look again at what you said:

    "I originally wanted a lined fretless but from the insistence of some people on here, I might as well go full out and try to learn without lines...I was so determined to play fretless that I'll learn eventually. Having no lines makes you into a better musician, plus it makes you look that more bad-ass. It also keeps pesky guitarists from picking up your bass"

    Now, I could be wrong, but the implication seems here that having no lines makes you a better musician than having lines, because the context is lines vs. no lines on a fretless. You're not comparing unlined with fretted, or if you are, you didn't say so. That's the part that I think is wrong--the idea that you somehow work your ears more and your eyes less with unlined than with lined. It's simply untrue, and telling a fretless newbie that doesn't help them.

    If that's not what you were trying to say, my sincere apologies for misunderstanding. This tends to be one of those topics that always tweaks me, because it comes up a lot and I see some of the same (what I consider to be) wrong stuff over and over again. I'll try to be a little less, um, reactive.

    BTW, don't get me wrong, I wasn't offended. I settled this question for my own purposes a long time ago, and I've never seen anything to shake me out of those conclusions (though I've seen plenty to support them). It's just that part of the reason we're here, I think, is to help each other, and I just wince when I *think*--emphasis on "think"--someone is getting advice that isn't just a different opinion but demonstrably wrong.

    Anyway, apologies again, and no offense taken or meant.

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