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Fretless basses? Whats the big difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Demon, May 15, 2006.

  1. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Could anyone explain the difference between a frettd bass and a fretless? Exept that fretted bass have frets and fretless doesnt. But imean, in tone and playing etc.
  2. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    Please try one out :smug:
  3. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    The sound is different, and the play feel is different.
  4. It sounds totally different. The playing is totally different.

    Grab one and u will know what i mean
  5. Joenok


    Jul 1, 2005
    Arctic Norway
    just try one.
    it´s a whole new ballgame :)
  6. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    Okay, cool. So are all fretlesses "jazzy"? Cos i heard some clips and i just cudnt imagine that tone in metal music=S But how are fretless basses with a pick if you wanna play metal?
  7. Fathand


    Sep 24, 2005
    Listen to Death's "Individual Thought Patterns", there's a good example of fretless playing in metal music.

    It doesn't have to be "jazzy", it all depends on the bass, pickups etc...
  8. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    "Jazzy", "bluesy", "metallic", "slaphappy"...or whatever...that is in the mind and hands of the player.
    I've heard it all on both fretted and unfretted.

    And the famous "mwah" is a matter of setup and - player!

    Get to try one out. But remember, it's like Othello (the board game): a minute to learn, a lifetime to master. Great fun, too!
  9. OmBot


    Jan 11, 2006
    Oslo, Norway
    Check out Susperia's Vindication-album. The bassist, Nemnock, uses a six-string fretless Dean on that album.

  10. Rob Palmer

    Rob Palmer

    Aug 29, 2005
    Suffolk, UK
    I haven't played a fretted bass more than briefly in the last 20 years. The fretless is more expressive and profound. The tones are simoly more flexible and maleable. The trick is simply to listen to the notes you play so you can ensure they are in tune with the music being played around you. It's no more difficult than violin, viola, cello or double bass. The perception of fretless as more difficult than a fretted is a bull**** illusion brought about by people who want to justify the laziness with which they approach their own instrument, be that guitar or bass. :eyebrow:

    I play jazz, funk and Latin on a fretless Wal Custom and have found it perfectly suited to all contexts. As for metal, there is no reason why not (my early years were in a metal band - No Quarter - part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (look it up if you care)). As for plectrums, a plectrum would negate all the subtleties of the fretless so I would caution against it. There is very little you can do with a pick that you can't do without anmd much more that you can do without than you can with (is this making sense?). So why bother with the plastic :spit: , let the flesh do the talking!

  11. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    What he said.
  12. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Les Claypool plays a 6-string fretless.
    People have used a pick on a fretless bass. I believe Sting did in a few recordings.

    But as far the the genre for the bass goes, Yes, the fretless is a melodic variation. But you don't ONLY have to use it for jazz, or solo pieces. Use it for what you want. Be your own bassist.

  13. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I play both frettless and fretted and would agree with everything except that I find that it is more difficult to learn and play frettless. It is not prohibitively difficult, but it simply introduces another factor into your playing.

    If you practice often and with diligence, you should be able to learn frettless without too much difficulty. If you rarely practice, and just like to play around, or your only playing time tends to be gigs and band practice (most of us have been there at one time or another) you will find frettless quite frustrating, and you should probably stick to fretted and save yourself (and the ears of your audience) from the pain.

    If you have the time to invest in frettless playing, the expressiveness and beauty of the experience is well worth the effort.
  14. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm

    Why is pick a waste on a fretless? I saw tony franklin play some cool stuff with a pick and fretless.
  15. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Keep in mind that 7 and 8 year olds learn to play the violin, which has no fret markers.

    Also, you can set up a fretless to sound very mwah like or you can set it up to not have that. My preference is to not have that mwah on my fretless. I play a variety of musical styles and I find the mwah too limiting for what I use a fretless for.

    To answer your question, when I strap on my fretless bass, I find myself looking at a blank piece of paper just waiting to drawn upon and coloured. It's a freedom of expression machine that I just love playing. I'm not using it as much as I used to, but I will never part with the bass. Once you are comfortable with it, you never loose. It took me about five weeks of an hour a day to get up to a proficiency of nailing it. Like riding a bike, I haven't lost it and I fall right back into place with it. Sure there's a transition, but I find it a rewarding one to work through and it has offered a new style of bass for me to use. I've had this fretless for 15 years. Love it. I recommend fretless playing to every fretted player. I think you'll find the response from those that have transitioned to be pretty consistent. Take the dive...go for it.
  16. Coop Soup

    Coop Soup

    Aug 24, 2005

    Bollocks to this... I agreed largely with you post, but I always get a bit irritated by people discouraging different techniques. While I agree to a point with the use of picks on a fretless diminishing the fretless qualities, at certain times that might be the desired sound.

    I say learn them all and see what works for you... be it slap, picks, fingers, or tapping.
  17. Demon


    Mar 17, 2006
    Sweden, Stockholm
    wow, fretless sounds really exciting^^ To bad i have absolutely no cash for one:/ How would deffreting a squier Precision do lol?
  18. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    I think a Wal would sound good plugged into a tuba. I largely agree with this post. I won't trash on pics, but I've never felt comfortable using them, nor have I really liked the sound it produces, either on fretless or fretted.

    Actually that would probably do just fine.
  19. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    I actually like using a pick on my fretless, it's a rare thing, but it sounds pretty cool and thunkity to coin a word.
  20. Definitely another ballgame.

    A lot of players find it more expressive, although i prefer to say that expression is equally dispersed in btoh fretted and fretless - it just may be easier to get it out of fretless.

    And in a metal band i'm sure it could work - never know until you try at the least its unique

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