Fretless Bass guitar and the Double Bass?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by wetnoodles, Aug 21, 2001.

  1. Hi, I recently bought a Fretless Bass guitar and I am having difficulty finding instructional material on technique for this instrument. Should I be looking into double bass technique books and trying to apply these techniques to the fretless bass guitar, or are these instruments too different from each other?

    Thank you.
  2. The most likely answer is ....probably,most definitely not.I don`t think instructional material,written or otherwise will be much use to you for BG.Much better to keep looking for books/videos etc.specialising in the BG.
    I am sure i have seen books and videos on that particular subject in most music shops/instument dealers
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    If I may offer a few pieces of advice:

    First, it would be helpful for everyone involved if you would fill out your profile, so that anyone attempting to answer your posts can know who they're dealing with. How long have you been playing? What (if any) musical training have you had to date? etc...

    Second, before you go spending money on books, videos, etc...., how about finding a good TEACHER? They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. A teacher showing you how to best hold your hands while playing for five minutes will be as valuable as 5 HOURS of video on the subject. A good teacher will also be able to tailor the level of instruction to your level (whatever that may be), while a book or video can never do this.

    Good luck.

  4. Yes - they're totally different. If you're learning to play the double-bass, the most important thing is to have a good teacher. The technique and positions of both right and left hands are different for double-bass and fretless electric-bass. Both instruments require that you have very good intonation.

    Hope this helps -

    - Wil
  5. bullmoose


    Jun 15, 2001
    Edinburgh, UK
    Hey Wetnoodles,

    From a relative beginner to double-bass I can definitely say it's a totally different beast to electric fretless. My first EB was fretless & I've owned 3 in the last 11 yrs.
    There's a load of great electric bass books out there for 'what to play' instruction which are relevant - check out some of the Berklee Press and Hal Leonard books.
    Like Wil says, left & right hand techniques are almost incompatible between DB & EB and I've seen v. few EB books that go into physical technique in too much detail. I'd go with Chris on the teacher for a few pointers if you're a beginner - otherwise your EB technique will be fine apart from vibrato.
    If you're into big vibrato, up and down string movement will rapidly wear your fingerboard out (as seen on loads of 2nd hand fretlesses) so get into the sliding up & down the string method - sounds lovely on fretless.
    Final suggestion - you could do worse than F. Simandl's double bass method from the point of view of developing good intonation. Ignoring the physical technique, these are great melodic exercises that incrementally take on board more of the neck as you progress. If you want a bigger challenge though - I'd splash out on a 2nd hand upright and join in the fun - it's only a matter of time....
  6. Hi Chris, I was a sport and filled out my profile. I have played electric fretted bass for 7 years and have played in various bands for about 5 years, ranging from blues, rock, to pop covers. I am mostly self taught on my instrument, I have had about 2 years of music theory classes in college.

    I do realize a teacher is the best bet, but where I am sure there are a long tradition of teachers who have studied hardcore double bass technique, It seems to me there might not be that many teachers out there who have rigorously devoted themselves to a scientificly efficient fretless electric bass technique. I don't want to waste my money on some teacher who has 1001 amazing "chick melting" licks for electric fretted bass, but one who has actually played fretless for some time and studied the various methods of playing it.

    Thank you, I acknowledge I don't know a lot about this instrument or subject; I have mostly just written down my fears in regard to finding a good teacher. I would like to learn to play this fretless proficiently and correctly.
  7. Except for the frets, fretless toybass and toybass are the same thing. To play in tune, stop the string exactly where the fret would be. Any other differences are only in the expressiveness you can achieve w/o frets. No method will teach you that.
  8. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    That's spot on. What you need to do is practice. There are no shortcuts.

  9. I'm well aware of this obvious fact, but what I was asking for help on was instructional resources.

    It's better to have a direction while practicing as opposed to aimlessly noodling on your instrument.

    Thanks anyway.
  10. Any regular bass guitar book will do. There is nothing about your bass being fretless that requires special technique. A few things I use with bass guitar students, depending on their proficiency, are Simandl 30 Etudes, _The Evolving Bassist_ by Rufus Reid, and _Improviser's Bass Method_ by Chuck Sher.
  11. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    As has been repeatedly said, there's nothing special about fretless versus fretted beyond the lack of frets. When I got my fretless last December, I spent time playing scales and some of the tunes that I'd been doing on fretted that I thought would sound better on fretless. If you don't have that modicum of direction in your practice, then by all means get a book, but don't expect a special fretless book.

    Most of my adaptation time, really, came down to getting used to the fact that I'd bought a 5 string fretless and that it's a munch longer scale length than my fretted bass (Gibson EB-3).

  12. If I may put my $.02 in...

    Let me relay my personal experience with you. I began playing when I was a teenager. I had always played a fretted bass. The concept of playing a fretless scared me. Nothing making that note but your fingers! Yikes

    One year ago, I rented an Upright to see if I liked if I liked it. I began to listen to myself in a new way. I took 6 weeks of "technique" instruction, and it wasn't long before I felt like I was better than my instructor. I fell in love with the instrument right away. Well,I Bought one and am now happily working with it a couple of nights a month. But lugging this thing around is a drag.

    So, I went on a hunt for fretless to rehearse with, drag around in the pouring down rain, etc. I had a boner for a bass with a fretless maple fingerboard and I got it. It was so easy to move back from Upright to fretless electric; I can't even articulate how effortless it seems now. I don't know if videos or books describing precise hand positioning is going to be more or less effective than watching others play fretless and doing it yourself.

    I know this is off topic, but I guess what I am trying to say is there is no substitute for taking the time to get intimate with an instrument. I can't offer any "fretless technique resources". But I want to stand up and say "There is significant value in noodling on your instrument...". Take the time to listen to yourself, the rewards will be obvious.

    Thank you for your indulgence.

    BTW I'll never buy another fretted bass. There just seems no reason to have them (frets) anymore. Take the training wheels off and pull out the fence posts. Once you "feel" a fretless you'll never go back.
  13. Next time post in Bass Guitar section -

    eBay has Steve Bailey book (which i like). Also Bunny Brunel (havent used) book which some recommend too.

    Def get a teacher ASAP, even if you have to drive 100 miles and get a 2hour lesson.
    Listen to lots of Fretless tracks - search BG recordings for info.

    Good luck - it may take a year or three to get you skills up, but it's worth it.
  14. bassist14


    Oct 17, 2005
    well, he had 10 years since the first post....

    edit:wetnoodles: Last Activity: 08-23-2001 01:22 AM ;-)
  15. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    This guy probably kicks butt on fretless and DB by now!

    For any interested passersby, I'll say that for a fretless guy who began DB with the same teacher, any DB teacher that doubles should do the trick for learning fretless. These guys are all over the place. Then, of course, there are Jaco records.
  16. So is this a new TB Zombie thread record? 10 years, 1 month 8 days? I've seen a few 9 year zombie threads come up, this is the 1st 10 year zombie thread I've seen.
  17. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    maybe blow some new life in this zombie thread?
    my 2 cents:
    I play both fretless bass and DB and they are indeed very different.
    The fingering is different but more important the musical approach is different. On fretless I tend to play more fast and staccato lines and also more singing vibrato melody lines.
    On DB it is not so common to play really staccato dead notes Jaco-esque type grooves. It is not impossible either but it can get very blurry.
    In general a note on a DB bass needs more time to speak is my experience therefore you tend to play less 'hectic' and busy.
  18. Well, this may be a zombie thread, but there may be others wanting to know the same thing. There is some instructional material (video) for fretless put out by Gary Willis. Hope this helps.