Fretless Bass Instruction

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

  1. wetnoodles

    wetnoodles Guest

    Aug 5, 2001
    Southern California
    Is it just my poor searching skills or is there very little out there, in regards to books and videos, on fretless bass guitar instruction?

    I recently bought a fretless bass and realize I need to take quite a different approach that I do with a fretted bass. Problem is, I can't find many helpful resources.

    My primary concern if finding books or instruction on left hand technique.

    Please help!

  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I have been playing fretless since April 97. I dont like sharing tips on fretless because so many people have different ideas. But deep breath...

    My advice IMHO and all that jaco (I mean jazz) , is to start by shutting your eyes. You should have good muscle memory anyway so use it. Learn to play the thing like you do the fretted. The reason for this is that sometimes its good to hide the qualities of the bass and slip em in for the middle 8 whatever. Right onto fretless stuff.

    First use a chromatic tuner and play into it. This will get your ears into shape if they are not (mine were not and now I am very fussy about tuning on mine and others instruments, sorry!).

    Once you can play in tune the fun part is playing out of tune. I sometimes slur in the note starting slightly flat. I also slur out making it slightly flat. Another technique is to use microtones, this means playing in between the notes ie halfway between Bb and B. Ok it has a limited use but in a three piece it will drive the non drummer nuts trying play along. THe classics tricks are portamento (slide from one note to another and sliding harmonics. THe simplest method is to pluck a harmonic and press down on the board and start sliding.

    There are some playing tricks. Try plucking near the fingerboard and play hard enough for the string to catch the fingerboard whilst vibrating, it produces a mellow buzz. PLaying near the bridge creates a tighter sound.

    This is not exhaustive and I am no expert. Have fun.
  3. wetnoodles

    wetnoodles Guest

    Aug 5, 2001
    Southern California
    Thanks CS, I need every bit of help I can get. Although I sure as hell love this instrument!
  4. Welcome to TB wetnoodle,

    Check out the forum you're in when you're posting. This one should probably be in Technique... ;)