Fretless Octaves

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Dean_CustomJazz, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. Dean_CustomJazz

    Dean_CustomJazz Guest

    Jan 23, 2002
    I love my new fretless, except for one thing. I can't get used to the octaves, there always slightly off pitch. is there any trick I can do to curve this?
  2. The only trick (that I know of) is to take any chance you get to check the pitches to make sure they are right. Other than that you just got to practice until you get it. I had (and still have sometimes) the same problem on the upright. Also, pay careful attention to where you put your fingers.
  3. Make sure your open strings are absolutely perfectly in tune and intonated properly at the twelfth fret marker or line. Then hit a 5th fret harmonic on the A string and play an A on the D string so both notes ring - adjust your finger and try again until the notes sound perfect. Memorise the exact location and repeat the exercise with other fingers. Next, try hitting the harmonic and then sliding up to the note - you'll hear clearly if you end up slightly out of tune because it will clash with the harmonic. Your goal is to be able to do that perfectly and match the note with the harmonic every time with any finger, either hitting the note straight off or sliding up or down to it.

    Next repeat the exercise but choosing an interval of a fifth between the two notes. Then thirds, which you can check against the harmonic at the fourth fret - I usually hit that harmonic, double that note higher up the neck and make sure I'm in tune, and then hit the open string and see how the third sounds against the root.

    The most important thing about fretless is to listen scrupulously to every note you play. Check against open strings and harmonics wherever possible. If you learn to listen properly, your ear will improve.
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Can you hear that they're out of tune and adjust?

    Somone once told me that 'we all play out of tune - it's just a matter of how fast we adjust' - seemed pretty wise to me.
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Pacman speaks the truth.
    My octaves are out of tune sometimes too.
    I adjust them, that's it.
  6. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Yes!!!That's bass guru told me that years ago!!And it really is true,you never hit the note dead on,theres always a "microsecond" of adjustment.With time you don't hear it.
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    With time you hear it more, the listener hears it less. ;)

    To the original poster, you hit the octave in the same way that you hit the original note. The trick is to have an expectation of what the note should sound like before you play it.
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is the other truth to the equation - as you get better, your sense of pitch develops and grows. Which makes you get better.....
  9. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Dean CJ,

    You might try the Simandl (orchestal bass method book) fingering. This is (on the D string for example) 1st finger Eb, 2nd finger E, 4th finger F. You use the 3rd and 4th fingers together as though they were one.

    I've found this can help intonation, though it does make for more position shifting. I switch back and forth even within songs between this and one-finger-per-fret, so maybe you can use it just for octaves.

    Good luck...
  10. Yeah the Simandl is the way to go. I played upright first before bass guitar and my first electric bass was converted to a fretless by removing the frets and then putting an ebony fingerboard. I can still see the places where the frets where and they usually are out of intonation if you use them as guides. In fact I found it was harder to play in tune with the fretless bass guitar first, the way your hands are positioned. If you follow simandl and adapt it a bit and use the postions he recommends it will improved your intomation a lot. Also making sure your thumb is opposite your middle finger in most of the position helps a lot - and this supports waht Pacman said that about micro adjustments -- yby disciplinning yourself to keep this position you can use a wrist roll to adjust your intonation . Other tips - Play in the dark, keep the bass high (unlike some metal bassists who play bass low), play in front of a piano (tune the open strings to the piano first) and depress the piano's sustain pedal and play your scales. The piano should harmonize with the bass, if you are in tune (although some people don't lke tempered tuning) . Another trick - use a tuner - visualize a note and attemp to get the note in tune according to the tuner. This is more like a focus exercise. Lastly. play double stops and then chords. And from the man Jaco himself recommends in his video with Jamerson, to actually practice using a fretted bass but play with the fingers on the frets or slighly behind it and then play the fretless.