Fretless BG to Double Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by allTimeFavorite, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. allTimeFavorite


    Dec 2, 2005
    Do you think that becoming proficient on a freless bass guitar smoothes the transaition to Double Bass, or is it just a detour on the road eventually playing a Bouble Bass?

    DSM - IA
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    If you play a 41" String length and go to a 42" SL, the switch takes years to perfect. 34" to 41" is at least as hard. One thing that does help is your knowledge that you have to listen and stretch or move your fingers to play in tune. Not completly useless but not as close physically as it may seem.
  3. Dad Bass

    Dad Bass

    Jun 22, 2005
    New Jersey, USA
    If you have your intonation together, yes. The scale is only huge compared to an EB. Good luck.
  4. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I think if you learn to play fretless it should be because you want to learn to play fretless. If you want to learn upright, dive in and go to it(get a teacher). I kind of went about it the opposite way. After a few years of playing BG,tried an unlined Fender for a few months, didn't like my bad intonation(couldn't read and play),sold it, later got an upright, took some lessons, and in time got pretty good. Later, after I kept playing both instruments for several years, I decided to get a fretless again(a lined Pedulla) I had a better organized fingering method and it's become my BG of choice. So, the moral is, I wouldn't learn something just as a stepping stone for something else. I doubt if it would be successful.

  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Agreed. Being acomplished on any instrument will smooth the transition to any other instrument to a degree (time, ear, reading, improvising, etc.). There is some extra relevance coming from bass guitar or guitar to doublebass.

    But, you will have 2 main struggles when starting on double bass 1) your left hand 2) your right hand.

    The fingering technique (which you really need a teacher for unless you are exceptional about learning from a book and you have the right book) is essential for playing in tune and getting around the fingerboard.

    The importance of your right hand on doublebass is much higher than it is on BG. You've got to really dig in as opposed to just activate the string.

    Both hands together contribute to that sound you're looking for and it takes some work. It is true to a much lesser degree on a bass guitar.

    If you were presently an acomplished fretless bass guitarist and asked "will it help me as I start to learn double bass?" I would say "yes". It sounds like you are a bass guitarist who is asking "would learning fretless first be a sensible step towards playing doublebass" and I'm going to say "no", which seems to be what other people are saying as well.

    It's not an easy transition, but it's SO worth it if you love the instrument.
  6. JayR


    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Fretless Bass Guitar, however, is very helpful if you ever decide to learn cello, because the finger spacings are VERY close. I'm pretty sure. feels like they are.

    Just my two cents.
  7. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Tigard, OR
    I flurted with fretless BG, first lined, then unlined with minimal success. Decided to get over myself and go DB (the forum here helped me decide that EUB was a waste of time and money for my goals). The difference in scale made it seem like I was starting over on a completely different instrument. With almost 6 months of lessons and much practice my intonation on DB is starting to come around. What I have noticed as a result is when I do pick up the fretless BG, I'm in great shape (well, a whole lot better than when I started). Maybe its easier to go from longer scale to shorter?

    Hope this helps.

  8. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Not really that close. Bass is tuned EADG, Cello is Tuned CGDA Scale is roughly 27 inches vs 34 or 35.

    +1 Exactly right.
  9. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    Another point is that with fretless EB, visual cues like dot markers or lines are so much more helpful than with DB. Markers on DB are controversial (do a search) but even those who use them can't use them as often as you can on an EB. You just aren't in position to look at them all the time. So, as the others said, it's a small help, but less than most people think.
  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So, AllTimeFavorite, what's on your mind? You got a great response to your post, complete with a lot of assumptions about your question.

    Wanna fill us in on what we're missing?
  11. allTimeFavorite


    Dec 2, 2005
    Thanks for all the excellent and insightful input!!!

  12. Ken Lloyd

    Ken Lloyd Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2004
    Portland, Maine
    Most people on this forum know more than I do, but here's another view.

    Anything you've learned about song form, theory, playing in a groove, playing with people, taking care of gear, reading music, listening, copying, transcribing, and you get the idea.... All of that stuff will help you learn any second instrument. All that you've learned about hearing changes, and hearing chord qualities, and playing in response to other live players, that'll all help too.

  13. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    This reminds me of a former coworker who was big aviation buff, but he couldnt afford the real deal, so he took up radio control models :)

    <ducks the incoming flames> :)

    Seriously, I play both, but its because i like both...and besides my wife would never let me play the DB in bed :) However, there is NOTHING like the singing tone and growls of the acoustic, once you've had it, you'll never go back :)