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Does Anyone Play Directly On Top of the Frets?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by OldFenderPlayer, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. In his video "Modern Electric Bass" Jaco Pastorius attributes his pitch accuracy and part of his tone to playing directly on top of the fret, even when using a fretted bass, rather than just behind it.

    This was the first I'd heard of this approach to left hand technique.

    It makes some sense, as I play a fretless Precision Bass in a jazz combo and I play (well.... try to play) exactly where the fret would be. This should transfer to a fretted instrument.

    When you play a fretted bass, does anyone play directly on the fret? If so, was this taught to you or did you figure it out for yourself.
  2. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    That's pretty much right. He played on top of the fret lines created when he yanked the frets from his Jazz neck. Of course you have to listen and adjust as well.
    I have fret lines on most of my fretless basses for that reason. In addition, back in the day you were never sure what kind of mix you were going to get in the Studio, and I could play in tune when I couldn't hear myself well. Of course, most studios today have some sort of personal mixer for your cue so that's no longer a factor.
    On a fretted I fret directly behind the fret, as close as possible. That allows you to have a really low action without buzzes if you choose to.
  3. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I started doing this when I made my first fretless. Now, I do it everytime I play.
  4. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    New York, NY
    Thanks Roy Ive been looking at fretless also. (Sidenote how do get in touch with you ROY??). TO the op, my teacher , who also studied with Gary Willis for a long time suggested this approach.
  5. MartinG1957

    MartinG1957 You can never have too many bones....

    Aug 5, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    Yep, "On The Line" on the fretless and as close as possible to the fret on the fretted...course that's the aspiration, my practice isn't always up to it!
  6. I've clarified the question I was trying to ask. Does anyone play directly on the fret when you play a "fretted" bass. It appears that Jaco did, as I could best determine in the video.
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Pretty much right on top of the fret...... Unless I've been drinking.....
  8. wagdog


    Mar 20, 2000
    Der Waffle Haus
    Isn't this standard procedure for fretlless (sorry, I'm not a fretless player)?

    I actually do this on fretted basses when I want to achieve a muted tone similar to putting foam under the bridge. It allows me to selectively apply the sound as needed. Works especially well when when you do a pedal tone - gives it a much more percussive feeling.
  9. sidez81


    Mar 16, 2011
    QLD, Australia
    I aint never heard of this till now SO I just tried it and sure enough haha I CANT DO IT...
    I play on the fret line on my fretless fine but for some reason my hand naturally goes back to bein behind the fret on my fretted bass I tried to play on the fret itself but the hand just draws back. Cool technique if you can do it and cheers for bringin it to my attention but my hands do there own thing on all my bass's for me to get the right sound.
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Easy, just PM me on here. I do answer my messages.
  11. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    I found the bassline to "Summertime Rolls" by Jane's Addiction to be such a stretch(fingering), that I pretty much had to play it on top of the fret (fretted bass). Sounds fine. I know I do that sometimes when I'm just noodling and it can sound good sometimes. I try not to do it when I'm playing a specific part because it can definitely backfire in pretty big way, I've found.
  12. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Naw, I play behind the fret on any fretted instrument.
  13. I played directly on the frets for the 1st few years, but I think I'm just a little behind them now.
  14. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    For me - not on top of the fret. Right behind the fret. First time I am hearing anyone state that on top of the fret is proper technique.
    I was always taught right before the fret was proper technique.
  15. Jayhawk


    Sep 6, 2006
    Kansas City
    I don't ... at least not on purpose :bassist:
  16. guroove


    Oct 13, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I've watched that video many times, and it never seemed that he was saying to play right on top of the fret. He was saying that it's the same place you would play a fretless, which would be right up next to it, so your finger ends at the fret. I know it's kind of splitting hairs, but one way gives you the clearest possible sound, and the other way gives you a muted sound.
  17. Lee H

    Lee H

    Nov 30, 2011
    Redding CA
    I have large "gorilla" hands...I just press down, and my fingers cover the frets, behind, and everywhere else that they shouldn't be
  18. the first lesson I ever got the instructor told me to never play on the frets, so I never have
  19. BigBassBob


    Jul 17, 2005
    Wales, UK
    I was taught that playing on the fret was poor technique and that to play just behind was correct.

    When I play fretless I merely adjust my left-hand muscle memory and trust my ears; my fingers know what to do.
  20. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Proper technique is playing right behind the fret. I've never heard anyone mention playing directly on top of it in regards to a fretted instrument.

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