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Claypool Fretless Tone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vox Populi, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    Yeah, I know. Nobody can sound just like Les. But I have a specific question: When he plays fretless, I get a different feel from his tone. It doesn't sound as "warm" as say a jazz player's fretless. The first thing that pops in my head is that it sounds like his fretboard is really hard. Is that the case? Does he have really hard wood(s) on his fretboard?
  2. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    from what I know, it´s not the woods of his bass, as much as the combo between pickup type and placement, and his playing technique. EQ might also be considered as part of his sound. Frequent use of overdrive also brings up the "hard" qualities of his sound...
  3. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    He uses super light strings as well, so a lot of that sound is the slack from the strings.
  4. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    I'd actually beg to differ, depending on what bass your talking about?.. If your talking about his poplar (I think) 4 banger with the two J pups.. I'd say it sounds very warm and full like a lot of other fretless's (at least from what i've heard of him playing it)..
    If it's the rainbow, then i'd say it's a combo of woods. Pickup choice and placement, light strings and just his overall style.
  5. If we're talking about the same bass, it's neither poplar nor fretless...it's a fretted maple-body bass.
    I'd imagine the Rainbow Bass' fingerboard is coated...can you imagine planing that fingerboard?:eek:
  6. Vox Populi

    Vox Populi Reggae Loving Honkey

    Jan 27, 2004
    Poulsbo, WA
    I'm mostly talking about the Rainbow Bass. And what was the freless six he used before the Rainbow Bass? I've never seen one like it before.

  7. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    The Rainbow Bass is a 36" scale which contributes a lot to his fretless tone.
  8. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT

    that's a tune 6 fretless that Les used before receiving the Rainbow Bass. It can be seen in one of the Bill & Ted movies.

    Les' fretless tone is a combination of things, of course. In this case it's the carl thompson bass, his playing technique, and the fact that he uses roundwound strings on his fretless basses, not flats. The strings are light guage. I know on his main walnut 4 string he uses Dean Markley Blue Steels guage 45-100. Can't say if it's exactly the same for his fretless basses. Also, it's a common opinion that tone is all in the fingers.

    Rainbow Bass & 2001 poplar piccolo fretless held by dave mutner
    LESrainbow. LesPoplarNewFull.

    from CTBasses.com:
    The fourth, and most infamous Carl Thompson bass Les owns, is a 6 string fretless, multi wood bass. It is nicknamed the "Rainbow Bass" because it has strips of walnut, curly maple, padauk, purple heart, ebony and cocobolo. The strings are threaded through the back of the rear extension - near where the strap pin is. They're stretched over a one-piece, hand-made wooden bridge and anchored by Schaller tuning machines. The basic part of the neck is made of quartersawn hardrock maple. The center of the fingerboard is Indian ebony, with 1/8-inch-wide strips of padauk, cocobolo and ebony on either side. Les got this just in time to record "Sailing the Seas Of Cheese". All of Les' CT's use EMG-DC pickups with an EMG-BTC preamp.