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Fretless Intonation Question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ProbablyTooLoud, Dec 21, 2020.

  1. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    Yeah, those kind of block inlays are very unusual for a fretless, but I don't see any lines. And sure, all of my unlined boards have side markers. At 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15...etc. But so does every fretted bass. Thing is, Lagado is quite adamant in his belief that you must have lines in order to play in tune. Then he posts a video of a guy playing without lines.
    Goatrope and ProbablyTooLoud like this.
  2. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Thankfully he's been suspended, so his opinion no longer matters. :D
    Goatrope likes this.
  3. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    I halted my juvenile jousting with him early in the day, and came back to find he was, as noted, gone.
  4. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    Suspended, not banned. I'm sure he'll be back after cooling off. (Couldn't be this thread that got him in trouble, could it? Didn't seem too egregious.) I'll wait....
  5. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    Nothing egregious, just a need to get the last and definitive word in on the thread.
    Which is a little annoying, but really, no sweat in the big picture.
    I mean I didn't report him or anything like that.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I know you've been around the houses with this many times before. On each occasion you've presented that same video to support your POV.

    But the fact remains that lines or any other fingerboard markings, in and of themselves, are no guarantee of good intonation nor of becoming able to develop the ability to play 'in tune'. Good intonation is a result of thorough (not cursory) development of posture combined with a highly critical internal sense of what 'in tune' sounds like.

    A well trained musician will have pitch reference points in their ears and an instinctive connection to the fingers that is far more reliable and responsive than any visual reference. Combine that with a well-trained hand (I call it posture, some call it 'muscle memory', call it what you like) and intonation will be accurate, reliable, consistent and under control. IME. IMHO.

    If I may be so bold - "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad."
    JRA and Abner like this.
  7. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    That, there, is what's known as 'irony'.

    Vince Lombardi said "It's not 'Practice makes perfect', perfect practice makes perfect". OTOH, he also said "Perfection is impossible, try for excellence".

    Lagrene has obviously spent some serious amounts of time playing fretless bass.
    Abner likes this.
  8. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    ...not for the first time, and normally following similar discussions on the same topic...

    The irony is in the Huxley quote, IMHO!
    JRA likes this.
  9. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    For one , Lagrène played with Jaco ..... but ...... but...... Jaco had lined fretless !

  10. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    As far as I can piece all the urban legends together, Jaco had what he could get.
    If someone had handed him a brand new unlined fretless, chances are that would be the legend bass, not the thing he had to make in the back up a garbage truck in the middle of a snowstorm while walking uphill both ways to the gig.
  11. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007

    Lines doesn't make you play in tune , ask anyone playing in an orchestra since the dawn of ensemble music.
    JRA and SteveCS like this.
  12. WillyWonka

    WillyWonka I "heart" pointy headstocks Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2019
    If I play in tune then I'm expected to sing in tune and it all snowballs from there...

    zontar and Nashrakh like this.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yet another issue when trying to translate from bass guitar to double bass - the pitch 'envelope'. With bass guitar there's an immediacy to the attack and presentation of the fundamental. With DB , there's the attack and bloom. SO you can play an open string on BG and your tuner will light up green, but on DB you'll see it start sharp on the attack and come back into tune on the 'bloom' of the pitch. So your hypothetical situation above starts out faulty because it's not analogous, you're not comparing apples to apples.
    Bushmaster, Goatrope and SteveCS like this.
  14. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Even more so with the bow where different combinations of bow pressure, speed and position (sul ponticello/sul tasto) also influence the pitch ultimately produced, and all of which must be compensated for with the left hand position. I will add that IME there is a pitch envelope with the electric bass, but it is nothing like as dramatic as the string bass. YMMV
    Bushmaster, JRA and Ed Fuqua like this.
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


    "you reap what you sow." :laugh:

    bless his heart: he can't help himself.
    SteveCS likes this.
  16. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    So, if I have an opportunity to play with a great musician, I'll be great, too? (what went wrong?) :(
  17. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    You , you will , automatically

    Everybody know that Jaco had pretty good pitch BECAUSE he had marks on his neck.
    He sang really good too , all because of the lines. (Pun intended)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  18. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Ever hear/see him play piano? Yeah, that, too.

    I watched some interviews and he said that his dad would come home from tours and ask to see where he was on bass. Once he had shown what he could do, I think his dad said "OK, next time, I want to see you hit every note in every position, on demand".

    Have you seen his son Felix? His twin brother, Julius, plays drums and YouTube has some videos of them together. Nephew David Pastorius plays bass, too.
    ProbablyTooLoud likes this.
  19. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    On this video Garry Willis plays with closed eyes most of the time, and gives a quick glance to his left hand once in a while (see the tune starting at 18'21" for example). The basis of his intonation is cleary muscle memory + ear (but he definitely needs his eyes to start his backing track...).
    ProbablyTooLoud likes this.
  20. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    How good should it be? -As good as you can make it.
    How long will it take to get there? - A minute, and never. It is a life long goal.
    Does it really make a difference? - If it doesn't, sell the bass and go back to fretted.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 8, 2021

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