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fretless, i think i get it!!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by arther daily, Feb 23, 2001.

  1. i was watchin this guy down the jazz club last night play his wal fretless and i think this whole fretless thing finally clicked... every note sounded perfect, like more perfect than on a fretted instrument, does this make sense?
    It was like he was MORE in tune... his intonation was more equal than the guitarists. I think I've finally realised what all the fuss is about, I've heard people say that you cant really get perfect pitch on fretted, because of the limitation of the frets and I think I finally get what they're on about.

    does this make sense or am i talking shoot?
  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    One day I just had to have a fretless. I love playing it and cannot put into words how I feel without saying 'shoot'.

    The tune out of tune is the tempered pitch thing. With fretless you have to use your ears. I get paranoid and play into a chromatic tuner before a gig sometimes for peace of mind.

    So Yes I understand you.

    Get a fretless cos you love the sound. If you dont then err dont.

    Be prepared to work hard though.

    Happy slipping and sliding (or not).
  3. Brothers and Sisters, Arther has seen the light!
  4. Can I get an amen? :D

    Anyway, I've found great frustration in my fretless bass. Not that it frustrates me, or that my intonation frustrates me. That when I pick up a fretted bass now, every note, every phrase, every scale and chord sounds out of tune.

    That's frustration on a grand scale.


  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I'm one of those mutants who doesn't put a lot of thought into what bass I'm playing, I just play the bass I'm playing. Too simple.

    I don't think fretless is any harder than playing bass, in general. YMMV
  6. I agree. Actually, I find playing fretless to be easier than fretted. But I started on a fretless, so maybe its more important what instrument you started on. Who knows.

    All I know is that it doesn't matter in the end what instrument I play, fretted, fretless, make, model, I always sound like me.

    I play both, but fretless tends to frustrate me less than a neck with speedbumps. :D

  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I sound like me, too. That's probably why I don't sweat it ;)
  8. darthspada


    Jan 20, 2001
    Lancaster, PA
    yeah, man! fretless are great. my first "real" gig on bass was on a borrowed fretless. we did some tunes with walking bass lines and that had me very intimidated. I had learned them on the guitar and found some of the stretches nearly impossible. but when I played them on the fretless bass... I didn't miss a note! it's all in the ear.

    so I'm still trying to figure out how the bass player in a band I played lead guitar in was so out of tune all the time. she eventually switched to a fretted bass... after I left the band. but the three recordings we did together are terrible because she was flat on just about every note. it's not that she had a bad ear. in fact, she had a better ear than anyone else in the band. i guess she was just lazy. but the point is USE YOUR EAR WHEN PLAYING FRETLESS and you can't go wrong!
  9. right that's it. As soon as i get back from holiday I'm gonna start saving up me pennies, 4 string fretless, I'm probly gonna go unlined too....


    my only concern is that i'll go 100% fretless or nothing, i play in a rock band and I'm pretty sure fretless wont suit... i guess i'll have to save it for rainy days!?

  10. Why wouldn't a fretless suit?

  11. Hmm, I dunno. I just don't think the tone would be "ROCK" enough?

    Obvioulsy, I'll do my best to persuade the rest of the band, but I think I'll be overruled!

    I'm not really 'into' rock as it is, so I bring a pretty non-rock element to the band, fretless might be the last straw! - I have a feeling our singer will put his foot down on this one: "Just NO, OK?... mutter, mutter... why dont we use f'ing keyboard bass...JEEZZUSS!"

    Gotta try tho eh... also the frets are there to aid bad playing due to "rocking out"...
  12. Arthur,
    I had an ‘82 P Special fretless for about three years and loved the sound.
    The problem was that it wouldn’t cut with my live work, which is fairly loud and rocky.
    Most of our material needed that punchy bass sound that I could never get from my fretless, and I could only use it on a few songs.

    It was fun to have and use at home, but my band members used to give me the evil eye when they saw it sitting on it’s stand for backup.

    I’m not knocking fretless, but it didn’t work for my band.

  13. Tone is in the hands, you know....

    Anyway, I can understand why people think a fretless can't cut it in a rock environment. I just disagree. I've been playing a fretless for 13 or so years, and its worked in every situation I've played in.

    As to the comment that the tone didn't cut through enough, I can't really say. I've never had trouble.

  14. "It was fun to have and use at home, but my band members used to give me the evil eye when they saw it sitting on it’s stand for backup."

    I can picture exactly the same thing happening.

    Thing is, it has to be done, they just sound so damned good!

    Next decision - which fretless! - I have a Stingray already and the fretless Ray I played a while back was NICE, that would be my obvious 1st choice. I shall take a trip up to the bass centre and get busy!

    cheers dudes.
  15. "Tone is in the hands, you know.... "

    Totally, totally, totally, yes... BUT a fretless bass is always going to sound different to fretted.

    If I can get what i consider to be 'my sound' through on a fretless(?) I'll be more than happy.
  16. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    @ arther daily: Just listen to Tony Franklin (The Firm, Guitar Zeus, session), plays fretless in a Hardrock situation, or Steve DiGeorgio, same in Death Metal

    Conclusion: Fretless can rock, rock hard even, when you really go at it... :)

  17. I sound like me on both fretted and fretless. I've actually had people suprised I was playing a fretless.

    All I can say is get one, and pratice practice practice.

    As for which one to get, get the one that sounds right to you. I play a MIM Jazz fretless, which I adore, but a 'ray fretless is probably in my future.

  18. i just got a fretless... I love the look of that smooth fretbard without any lines or frets at all. I like to hit the strings hard and hear the buzzy growling sound through a full bridge pickup.

    I just got a Carvin fretless. Even though I think their fretted basses were mediocre when I played 'em last this fretless is killer.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Not as different as you may think. If you don't do a lot of sliding you may be surprised. There's nothing like the double-take I get when someone comes up to me during between sets and realizes I'm playing a fretless. It's all in how you play it.
  20. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Where's embellisher?? He says his Zon can get any sound, including a great rock sound....I'll let him tell ya about it though:D

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