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Fretless bass sound

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by rplat, Oct 22, 2005.

  1. rplat


    Sep 16, 2003

    Sometimes i hear very nice warm fretless sounds on the radio. Due to very distinctive sound you immediately hear that it's a fretless bass that has been used.

    I myself play fretless bass for a while. My intonation is good, but i don't manage to get that real fretless sound, meaning that it looks more like a fretted bass than a fretless bass right now.

    Is my equipment not good enough or are there specific techniques to come to a nice fretless sound?

  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    To me, the key factors to get a nice fretless sound (aside from the instrument by itself) are: Set your instrument's action the lowest you can without choking the notes, play over the end of the fingerboard (I play my fretless over the last "frets" except on fast tunes or when playing harmonics) and favor the bridge pickup (I'd say I blend my fretless' pickups like 90% bridge -10% neck).

    Hope this helps.
  3. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    "fretless sound" is a vague description...there are so many. The sound you dial up is going to depends on what function the bass is performing. If it's a featured or solo sound I would agree with Mr. Gomez - you want to emphasize the upper mids (800 HZ range).

    As a support instrument you'll want it bigger & fatter. What kind of fretless bass are you playing & what type of music?

    The typical "smooth jazz" fretless sound is also going to have some delay or reverb dialed in as well - that may be what you're lacking.
  4. Yeah. With my Corvette fretless and Ampeg amp, I simply play with mids high and I get the classic sound almost perfectly.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    The key to the fretless sound as far as playing goes isn't in the notes you play, it's getting from note to note. Vibrato, and a slight slide in the transition between note to note makes it sound more melodic and fretlessy.
  6. Funky-Wunky


    Jun 15, 2004
    I think the key to a good fretless tone is of course good intonation, as well as sliding in to the note. Some vibrato helps too. The Steve Bailey video is worth buying for a good lesson too. Good luck. :bassist:
  7. 60hz


    Oct 7, 2005
    I get the best sound from using bright roundwounds. That's the sound I think of when someone says "fretless".
  8. I agree^