fretless intonation.... drawing the line!?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by reddog, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. reddog


    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    i have a great unlined wishbass.
    thinking that maybe drawing sharpie lines to help my
    muscles learn the position of the notes.



  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Don't do it! A good fretless (or upright bass) teacher can teach you how to play in tune, without using your eyes. :)
  3. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Put a tuner inline (one that doesn't mute when engaged) and practice, keeping an eye and an ear on your intonation. It won't take you too long to get it down.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Another good tip is to record yourself playing the 12 major scales on a fretted bass (slowly with a metronome) and then play along with this recording on fretless.

    And of course, jam along with the radio (or playlists/streaming) as often as you can, at least a little bit every day. :)
  5. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Agreed with all above. Learning to use your ears while playing fretless will only improve your playing overall. Keep at it -- you'll get there.
    ElGoodo likes this.
  6. reddog


    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    thx, y'all.

    recently adopted a plan to learn songs
    first on fretted
    then on my sx (lined) fretless
    lastly on my groovy wishbass fretless.

    when i hit it, i feel more locked in with the tune.
    Jeff Elkins likes this.
  7. reddog


    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    any recommendations for an inline tuner?
  8. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
    The Turbo Tuner is fast enough to check intonation while you're playing, and the full-sized MT-300 has settings to make it always on. There is no piece of equipment I have ever owned that I would recommend higher than this tuner.

    Strobe Tuners by Sonic Research - Turbo Tuner Home Page
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  9. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    Never mind constantly playing with a tuner — play with your ears, not your eyes. (Besides, any tuner will do with a Y-cord to split the signal — provided it has a fast enough response.)

    Does the Wish have any side dots (I know — playing with your eyes when I said not to)? Dots at the 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 12 should be all you need. You say you already have a lined fretless, not that much difference.

    (Look, if I can play an unlined fretless in public, how hard can it be?) ;)

    Good luck moving on.

    Edit: But what DrewinHouston above said... a TurboTuner is an excellent choice, only tuner I own now. (But I never play with it on all the time, not sure I can do that with the earlier ST-200 model.)
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  10. reddog


    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    yeah, the wish has nails pounded in a side dots. (nice "artisan" touch).
    still working on the ears.. i guess that's the fundamental challenge.
  11. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Your ear is the best tool, imho, if you want to play fretless. I could never stand staring at a tuner to check my intonation.

    Playing along with music was what worked for me. At first I tried learning some old Blue Murder songs that were played on a fretless, and I had a really hard time. All the glissandos and fancy fretless tricks are too much to start. Then I just decided to learn to play songs I could already play on a fretted bass, on the fretless. That worked really well for me.

    My fretless is unlined, but I don't think a lined would have made the transition any easier. For me most of the difficulty was in my head. Once I just tried to play without worrying about it, it wasn't that difficult. Everyone is different, and learns differently of course.
    Jborg likes this.
  12. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    I just got my first unlined fretless (a Carvin LB-76f) and the first few times I played it I had the worst time with intonation (especially above the 12th fret).

    What I found is that my ear DID get much better... roll my finger ever so slightly up or down, or when chording be VERY aware of adjusting finger spacing (when doing a 5th holding down the root), etc.

    Then one day while playing... it was correct.

    Who would have thought that practicing and really listening by ear and almost subconsciously making CORRECT micro adjustments in the fly would pan out.

    The people above are correct.

    When practicing take some time to play your fretless along with something you already know on fretted. It's a great way to get used to true finger positions on the fingerboard, not just the fretted positions, which can be all over the place between the correct frets and generally sound ok. You will want to hear every note for its pitch compared to the recording, and figure out where your pitch is off and in what way (flat/sharp). This is what I did with one particularly long song and in a few weeks I started to get the "hang" of it. I've a long way to go but I am enjoying every minute of it.

    My .02.
  13. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    And far more rewarding.
    mmon77 and reddog like this.
  14. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
  15. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    And the best way to develop them - your ears, that is - is to learn to sing in tune.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Or whistle.

    Something about the purity of tone makes whistling in tune more difficult than singing (at least for me) but oh so rewarding to get it right.

    When I am driving you will often find me singing or whistling major scales, minor scales, arpeggios, movie theme songs, etc.
  17. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You shouldn't be looking at your fretboard, no matter if you have frets or not! I don't have a single bass with position markers on the fretboard/fingerboard. If you want position markers on a fretless, put 'em on the side of the neck, where (assuming you're not bent over like a pretzel), you'll see them just fine.
    Papageno, Atshen, MVE and 1 other person like this.
  18. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    use a drone.

    I was using a pick for some time to get that extra zing. Kinda helped me.
    Dr. Love, Groove Doctor and reddog like this.
  19. ctmullins

    ctmullins Dominated Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Quoted for emphasis. :thumbsup:

    Also worth noting that side dots on a lined fretless are often between the frets (like on a fretted), while side dots on an unlined fretless are usually on the (places where the) frets (would be). Makes a difference.
  20. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Use the side dots.That's all you need!
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