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Could a fretless rejuvenate my bass inspiration?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dmaki, Apr 6, 2002.

  1. dmaki


    Apr 29, 2000
    After playing bass for 2 1/2 years on the same dinky bass I've hit a kind of rut in inspiration and tone. I just bought a guitar and now when I play my bass it seems like it just doesn't sound and feel the same way as it did before. A fretless seems like it'd be fun to learn how to play and would make me concentrate more, possibly helping me out of my musical rut. What do you guys think?


    PS. I played trombone for 6 years prior to bass (poorly:p, mainly due to lack of interest) in highschool, but didn't find the no-definate-note-placement a problem... I forget why I felt like mentioning that
  2. leftybassdog

    leftybassdog Senior Supporting Member

    Try a fretless out at a music and see what you think, the things you do on your bass will be a little harder on the fretless and require more thought on finger placement, give it a shot what do you have to lose,
  3. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I played trombone in Jr high, and got a fretless bass as soon as I could after trying one out in a store. It was a Fender, barely sounded fretless at all (not much mwah), but it got me hooked and I ended up getting a Carvin 4f for my graduation.

    Fretless has been an inspiration for me ever since. Can't get enough of it! It really opens a whole new world to you. There is some 'you can't do that on fretless' bias out there, but as Fred Hodshon & I like to say, don't let that worry you. Actually, f would probably say something much more colorful involving some sort of fluids or vapors, but you get the idea.

    At least try a few out if you can find some. They're worth it!
  4. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Absolutely do it- I only recenty got a Turner fretless (awesome!)
    Fretted/fretless- two completely different approaches; almost 2 different instruments!
    Fretless causes me to think more musically, rather
    than linear or sharp phrasing-It forces you not only to be acutely aware of correct position, even w/ghost lines, but also to arch your palm correctly
    around the neck & your fingers correctly on the
    neck for the right intonation.
    Then, you've got your glissandos available- to be used sparingly & musically! Another challenge!
    Finally, when you return to the fretted bass, you kinda feel like you've got wings, & can fly all over the place! Keeps things fresh!
    Good luck-I hope you go for it- I hear you re: inspiration- Practicing can be a mental rut sometimes, we all need a push from somewhere!:)

    P.S. When you get that sound & feel going on on your fretless-YEAH! YEAH!
  5. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Yes and no.

    I checked your profile to find out what your "dinky bass" is and I think an Ibanez with EMGs should be a pretty passable instrument. I don't think the bass is the problem.

    I think the reason you feel you are in a rut is because you have reached a plateau in your development as a bassist.

    A plateau is reached every time you master all aspects of your current technical ability. It's also the ground floor of a whole new climb to another level. Unfortunately, you must have a solid foundation under your feet (or fingers) before you can start climbing again. The laying down of that ground can be interpreted as a rut because no progress is perceived.

    The natural reaction to being in a rut is the desire to change something. When this happens to musicians, They do one of two things: They change their instrument or they change their approach to playing by enhancing their musicality.
    (There's a third option that many lesser musicians take, which is quitting altogether; but we ain't "lesser" musicians, are we?)

    Your bass, while not the greatest, is still as good as it was when you had the EMGs installed. I'll bet good money that if you heard Victor Wooten play your bass for five minutes, you'd fall in love with it all over again.

    Musicians try to get out of a rut by changing instruments becuse they feel that their instrument has become "too familiar", like an old pair of shoes, not realizing that this familiarity is a good thing. Once we're comfortable with our instrument, we can stop fighting it and start playing it. Getting out of the rut by buying a new instrument is, in essence, buying a new fight, especially when you pick up an instrument that is different from the one you were playing, like going from a 4 to a 5 or 6 string or, as in your case, to a fretless. It's in essence a backward step, because:

    1) you have to work your way back to the same familiarity you had with your old bass and;

    2) there's no guarantee that you won't want another instrument to replace that one when you reach that plateau on the no longer "new" instrument.

    You might want to look into having your bass professionally set up. It's amazing what a little truss rod twist and a new set strings will do.

    If your playing is a little predictable, think of something you'd like to do better; learn a tune with a lot of chords, maybe transcribe a solo (any instrument) or work on arpeggios and inversions. There's a ton of ways to break out of the box without breaking the bank. Doing this will:

    1) Help set the foundation you need to get to a new level without boring you and;

    2) You'll be on your way to a higher level of musicianship than you currently have instead of fighting your way back to it on another instrument.

    Of course, that doesn't mean you are stuck with the Ibanez for life. If your artistic sensibility (or your gig) tells you fretless is the way to go, get a fretless by all means. Also consider upgrading to a better fretted bass.

    Good luck.

    Edit: can't leave well enough alone...
  6. My bet is that in about 2 1/2 years of fretless "fun" and "concentrating more", you'll be in another rut.

    But don't let that discourage you by any means. Curiosity is a great asset that can open doors.

    Maybe the level you're at now with the fretted is satisfying for you, which is cool, (although 2.5 yrs. is still just scratching the surface).

    In the long run, your situation may be like romantic relationships - you don't know which one is "the one" for you until you've played the field for a while.
  7. Your trombone experience will definitely help in the intonation department!
  8. IMO it will give new inspiration and new ways to play ie a more "vocal" expression with gliss, bends etc. Allso all of a sudden you get the desire to learn Jaco and Pino P basslines;-)
    One should have different instruments to make one's playing and practice a continuing joy. When I sometimes are bored with playing a 4 string jazz, I do some 6 string or play an electro acoustic etc
  9. Yvon


    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    this thread is 5 years old!
    Either he doesn't play bass anymore or he is very good on the fretless!!
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