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Fretless electric wah

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by u84six, May 16, 2011.


  1. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    US
    Question: why do some fretless electrics create that nice wah sound while others do not? I've notices some players can create the sound without even sliding, so I was just curious if anyone knows.

    Thanks
     
  2. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
    Do you mean wah or mawah?

    Not being picky, but...
    ... Wah would be a shifting frequency sound like a Wah Wah pedal... like "wacka wow wow whacka whacka wow."
    ... Mwah would be the swelling sound associated with fretless while holding a note. Like, well... "mwaaaaahhhhh"

    The "mawah" is produced by the string vibrating against the fingerboard of a fretless... on a fretted bass that "buzz" is generally a bad thing, but on fretless it creates the sound we all know and love.

    The reason some fretless basses/players have more mawah than others is in the players technique and the bass' set up.

    For the set up, low action and a very slight amount of neck relief... from the technique side, I always found that I could get more mawah by playing closer to the neck.
     
  3. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    US
    Yes, I was talking about the mwah (swelling). Do you get a more pronounced swelling with round wound vs flat wound strings, or is it the other way around? Does neck length matter too?
     
  4. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
    Would probably be more pronounced with rounds, I never got flats to sound "right" on fretless... but that's my personal experience. You and others may have different results. As for neck length, I'll just have to say I don't know. I've always had 34" fretless basses, usually Jazz or MusicMan style. I don't think scale length, either longer or shorter would make much of a difference.
     
  5. richnota

    richnota Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz

    In my frettless experience I get great mwah from flats and short scale as easily as longer scale and rounds. For example the amazing 30 inch rob allen mouse with tapewound strings. Set up is everything.
     
  6. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    US
    Thanks for the feedback, guys.
     
  7. Antny

    Antny

    Jan 30, 2011
    New York
    I've found that higher tension strings help a lot. And as others have pointed out, it's in the fingering technique.
     
  8. It's really a combination of several factors with set up and touch being the most important over strings, brand, amp or other issues.
     
  9. spufman

    spufman

    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    Setup is definitely key (as of course is fingering finesse). Start with a bass that has a stable neck that will hold a very low action, flat setup. The nut should be cut really low. For me, light gauge rounds on a 34" scale EBMM Sterling does the trick.
     
  10. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I've found the biggest factor to be the hardness of the fingerboard. The harder the material generally the greater the "whine". Setup affects it a little bit, i.e. a low action and roundwound strings will bring it out a little more.

    The technique of plucking closer to the fingerboard can bring it out also; nearer the bridge reduces it. Fretting technique contributes pretty much nil.

    If you really want a whiney FL, go to a hard plastic finish on the board (i.e. epoxy). Be ready, tho, becuase it'll be _really_ whiney ;).

    I find bare ebony to be a good balance. Muaahh when you want it, but not so excessive as to be really intrusive on your tone (you can still get a decent fretted sound).

    LS
     

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