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[Fretless] Is my left hand technique bad or is this normal?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SweetKetchup, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015
    I've just got my fretless and started playing some tunes unplugged, and I've noticed that when I play a note on the positions 5, 7, 9, etc. the harmonic plays at the same time as the note. Am I pressing too hard/soft? I imagine it's the same effect as tapping on a fretted bass gives a weird out of tune harmonic while unplugged, but this time the harmonic is in tune.

    Edit: I'm using roundwound strings and the fingerboard is ebony, if that's related.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Are you remembering to "mute" the unplayed strings, to prevent them from ringing out with unwanted sympathetic vibrations?

    Can you hear these harmonics through an amp, or only unplugged?

    Could you possibly be hearing the vibration of the string between your finger and the nut? This sound probably wouldn't come through the amp, so it wouldn't be a problem.

    Poor muting, however, can be heard through the amp, so if that's the situation, it's a problem that needs to be solved through technique.
  3. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015
    It's only heard unplugged. I guess it's probably my poor muting.
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I think unwanted harmonics are usually caused not by failure to mute the unplayed strings, but rather how you "mute" the string you just played to cut off the note. If, when you release the note, you keep your finger in the same place but only lightly touching the string -- well, that's how you get a harmonic, right? The same thing can happen when playing ghost notes: If you have just one finger lightly touching the string when you pluck it, you can get a harmonic. A common solution is to have a second and/or third finger, in addition to the fretting finger, "mute" the string after plucking it (or while plucking it, for ghost notes).
    Mushroo likes this.
  5. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015
    I've been doing this since day 1 of playing bass, so I have never thought that would be the cause - but it is! Whenever I cross strings (like playing root-fifth-octave for instance), I keep the fingers on the previous notes, causing the harmonic on the fretless! It never happens on my fretted though, but I think it's because I get fret buzz then so I take the finger off faster.

    It seems I need to retrain my fretting hand :D Thanks for the help!
    Lobster11 likes this.
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