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Can't get the mwah on my fretless bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bkchang79, Nov 9, 2002.

  1. I have a Dean edge 4 fretless with rotosound flats and I can't get the mwah sound like the pros. Is it equipment, effects (chorus?), strings, pickups?
  2. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I am no expert, but let me try...

    First, I noticed that strings should sit fairly low at the nut side, lower than on fretted basses. Second, keep the action fairly low, unless you are the kind who really digs in. You tend to get more MWAH when plucking the strings right at the end of the neck. Finally, for max mwah, switch to nickel-plated rounds. I could never get much mwah out of flats.

    The rest is up to your technique, both left and right hand.
  3. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    road to more love from your fretless:

    1. lose the flat wound strings
    2. boost your mids around 250Hz
  4. You should be able to hear the mwah clearly unplugged.
  5. You also need a fairly straight neck.
  6. It's already been said, but flatwounds give you more of a "thump"; go for rounds if you want mwah.
  7. I'm doing some major work on my bass right now, epoxy the fingerboard, bartolini preamp, bartolini pickups, with DR nickel sunbeams.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I've got TI Jazz Flats on my fretless, they've got pretty good mwah. The lower tension helps for mwah, as does fairly low action. But, ultimately in the fingers (mainly fretting hand fingers). Vibrato has something to do with it too.
  9. vanselus

    vanselus Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Boulder, CO
    ugh. i can't stand mwah.

    check out Justin Medal-Johansen playing with Beck - now THAT'S sweet fretless!
  10. kboyd


    Jul 6, 2002
    that sound comes from your fingers most importantly. The fingerboard and strings (roundwounds) of course do add to it but it is the way you slide and shimmer the notes as you let them sustain. A nice Morley pedal might help also:)
    Even if you want a nice thumpy upright sound with the same bass, you can accomplish the same thing by playing the notes with the blunt end of you fingertips instead of the calloused tips and playing right on top of the note with a slight mute using your middle finger or which ever finger is not picking the string.. On a fretless, never forget to boost your mids and slightly cut your mids and highs if you are using an active bass.
  11. kboyd


    Jul 6, 2002
    oh yeah, if you want to avoid the mwahh of a fretless for some occasions remember the points mentioned above and play all notes very close to the neck with a downward pluck. Try playing the bass like an upright and you will see what I mean.
  12. bill_banwell


    Oct 19, 2002
    whats a mwah
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Forget about strings, forget about amp setting, forget action. It's ALL in your right hand.

    I like the two-finger technique. Alternating fingers. Follow through with each pluck, your finger should stop on the string above the one you played.
  14. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Mwah for me lives between 800 and 1000 Hz. Boost that and then we'll talk again.

    Second to all those who suggest roundwounds, but it can certainly be done with flats, just not quite as pronounced.
  15. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Surely you're not suggesting that someone armed with nothing but good right-hand technique could get great mwah out of a bass with 15-year-old flatwounds, mile-high action, and all the mids and highs cut at the amp? In fact, give me 5 minutes alone with a your amp knobs, your bass, and a truss rod wrench, and I'll surgically remove YOUR mwah! (even outta that nice Carvin.)

    I respectfully submit that *all* of these factors -- including right-hand technique -- contribute to really great mwah, and none should be overlooked or ignored.
  16. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Do you not think it's in the left hand too? I reckon it's both.
  17. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Sometimes I get a little carried away. My point is to emphasize that so often people neglect technique in favor of gear. It takes the responsibility away from learning. I'm not accusing the poster of doing this, but I think when mwah is the concern, your troubleshooting list should be 1) right hand technique, 2) right hand technique, 3) left hand technique, 4) right hand technique, 5) gear.

    I truly feel that many people just want to be able to turn a knob, or throw some strings on the bass, and magically have mwah without having to truly develop their sound. My post was a bit hyperbolic, but hey, you can forgive a guy for that, right?
  18. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Well, maybe this once...


    Sure, you gotta learn how to play the instrument, but if the instrument ain't right, you aren't gonna get what you want. Can't get a tuba solo out of a piccolo no matter how hard you try, and it's tough to get mwah out of a bass that's not set up to do it. You need a fairly strainght neck and you need low action (with the understanding that "straight" and "low" are relative terms). It does help some to boost the mids. BUT THEN, you do have to learn to play it.

    I recently went to a guitar show where I picked up a bass, and sat down to play it. The "mwah" fairly JUMPED out of this thing, without me having to do hardly ANYthing. So obviously there's LOTS to do with the gear.
  19. For me getting mwah was a combination of things.
    Its plucking close to the end of the fingerboard. Left hand (fretting hand) requires contact w/ fingertips, but not the whole finger tip pad-as i've found if i flat finger the note I lose sustain of the mwah. Third, it requird me to lower the string height to what I would not normally use. I looked at it this way, the mwah sound is the string vibrating on the fingerboard in front of your finger towards the bridge, so if the string is lower it would make sense that it might make more contact w/ the fingerboard.

    However this works for me, and it might not work for everyone. I was watching a Bela fleck DVD and Mr Wooten has amazing mwah on his fretless and he plucks over the rear pickup.
  20. i thought mwah was just the string's vribarting , rattling,or buzzy on the finger board between your finger and the bridge.like in stead of the string touching the finger board only were ur finger is its touching the finger board lightly alittle befor ur finger like a half inch.

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