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fretless bass alure?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stefanfan, May 21, 2005.

  1. stefanfan


    May 17, 2005
    lower manhattan
    ive never played fretless but im curious what the allure is..or the pros and cons thanks
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I suppose the allure is being able to get far more expressive tones out of it than a fretted. A fretless bass has a very unique sound-not like any other instrument really. The pros are that you can get these unique and expressive sounds and also still have it sound like a fretted. The cons are the you have to deal with getting proper intonation, which can take years of work.
  3. stefanfan


    May 17, 2005
    lower manhattan
    does regular fingerstyle work well on it...aka playing geddy kind of stuff on a fretless?
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Jaco played fretless pretty much exclusively on all the albums he played on, and he is known for his 16th note fingerstyle funk probably more than his fretless expressiveness.
  5. Basis Base

    Basis Base Life Long Learner

    May 21, 2005
    I have a bass trainer software at my home pc. I was playing the notes on it to learn their position on the fretboard. That's when I found out that I can use a fretless neck as well.

    Well, I sorta got hooked to the sound that I just kept playing on it, just simply pressing the notes. It's the "mwah" sound allright. Of course I've heard the real thing in Jaco's cd & also my beginners cd.

    Personally I think if someone can play fretless very well, he can be a superb lead artist as well out-guitar the guitarist! Just listen to Jaco. Or any bassist on a fretless.
  6. To me, a fretless bass is more natural sounding...like putting frets on it takes away from it. I feel much more comfortable on a fretless. I plan on starting to save up for a fretless Corvette 4 string soon, actually...
  7. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    Exactly. It's all about the sound and the feel of the instrument. I fell in love as soon as I picked mine up. For as long as I play I will have a fretless, or two or three ;) , in my arsenal.
  8. When I think of the "classic" fretless sound, I think of Pino Palladino rather than Jaco. Before his work with D'Angelo and the Who (where he used / uses a fretted P-Bass), Pino played a fretless Stingray and he could make it sing like nobody else, IMHO.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    More of an upright tone to the bass.
  10. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA

    That's the great thing, with flats and a light touch near the neck you can get that nice thick upright-ish sound, but if you play with rounds and nearer to the bridge it just sings.

    Very versatile instruments.
  11. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    Different intonation options (just intonation, quarter tones and indian pentatonic tunings.) You can express yourself with any notes and the mwah sound is so amazing. There's just so much more emotion with a fretless.
  12. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    Me being Indian and one of my bassist friends being Turkish (he plays fretless) the allure comes from being able to play Middle Eastern or Indian music because that kind of music uses all kinds of semi-tones (what I call "between-note notes") that you can't play on a fretted bass, but can on a fretless.

    I don't play fretless (yet) but if ever there was a reason for me to try playing fretless, this is it.

    EDIT: But I'll always keep my fretted, since I have too much fun with slap/pop (though I use it very sparingly when playing with others.)
  13. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    it can be used foor finger style and writing originals, it is bassicall just an electric basss with the frets never put on, if it's lined you should be fine. it takes a while to get used to unlined.

    p.s. fretless has a sound completely different from a fretted.
  14. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Like others have said, it's the mwah. I've always loved that sound even before I knew what a fretless bass was.
  15. Not where I come from.;)

    People had done the fingerstyle funk thing, albeit on fretted. But *nobody* had wrung that flavor of fretless expressiveness out of an electric bass before. I was there when it was happening!
  16. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    I know what you mean but I have to be a **** and correct you. 1/4 tones in middle eastern music. Semitones are the smallest division in standard north american music.
  17. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    I've been playing bass for many years. I stopped for 14 years and began again four years ago. I've wanted to get a fretless for the last 20 years (even when I was not playing). I got a nice high end bass two years ago, but it was a fretted bass. I was intimidated by not having the frets there. Still longing for a fretless bass, I finally ordered one in January.

    I just got it two weeks ago, and now I feel as though I cheated myself for the last 20 years. I find the expresiveness of a fretless to be more natural. The mwah singing sound of the instrument seems more natural than the cling clang of a fretted bass. This doesn't mean that I will no longer play a fretted, but I feel much more complete now that I have a fretless.
  18. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Isn't it "microtonal?"
  19. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Be aware, though, that not all fretless basses have a mwah sound. It varies by neck wood, strings and set up. I have one fretless that has a very pronounce mwah sound that I seldom use. It gets hauled out for jazz. The other I use for rock that has no mwah at all, which I find more versatile.
  20. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Correct! My Yamaha fretless has very little mwah in the tone regardless of strings/setup/playing style. I actually thought it was the way I was playing it (or failing to) until I got my fretless Jazz. This thing has so much mwah it's amazing, too much for some musical contexts, maybe, which is why I play it in just one of my bands and stick to a fretted bass in the other. I'm convinced that one of the biggest factors in the sound of the Jazz is its neck - Status Graphite with a phenolic fingerboard.

    EDIT Lonote, you mentioned Pino Palladino on a Stingray before as a classic example of the mwah sound. I guess you were talking about when Pino was with Paul Young? I just remembered that at that time Pino was playing a SR4 with a fretless Status neck. Hmmm...

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