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Fretless or Double bass??!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Voland, Dec 14, 2000.

  1. Voland


    Dec 14, 2000
    I've been playing 4 string freted Yamaha axe for 5 years, and now I accualy feel that my baby doesn't fit my style of playing, and i don't get this warm "R&B" feel when I perform. A week before i played a Peavy Cirrus fretless and realized that all i need is fretless...
    What r the advantages and disadvantages of Double bass??
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Welcome to talkbass Voland!

    I'm confused. Do you want to get a fretless electric bass guitar, or do you want to get an upright bass? Check out the posts in the Double Bass (DB) forums for a ton of information on them. You could also check out http://www.stringbass.com.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes "double bass" is hugely different from fretless bass guitar. There is the scale difference and the neck is completely different and requires different techniques.

    The only similarity is that neither have frets - which is both an advantage and disadvantage. The downside is that you may struggle with intonation and find that while it sounds great, you are out of tune with other band members. You will have to be more precise in your left hand finger placement than with fretted bass. There are lots of advantages, but I'll leave listing these until we confirm whether we're talking about double bass or electric fretless.
  4. Voland


    Dec 14, 2000
    Well, first of all i want to thank to everyone who have answered me in my dilema.
    My big problem is to decide between the two fretless or double bass, and these r the resons why:

    from my own experience i know that on fretless axe i loose half of my technical speed authomaticly, and though i never tried double bass i guess there the this problem only gets worse.
    In addition i know that crazy technic riffs and even slaps r not possible on both on them (let's say that they just won't sound good enough)
    Thus if i'm ready to "sacrifice" all that and start exploring new styles of playing i'm gonna try them both.

    Yet, personaly i place a fretless between freted elecric bass and double bass.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    What kind of music do you play?

    As a double bassist myself I can tell you that unless you are really an exceptional player, it's hard to use the instrument in a some styles of music. My main gig I still play electric bass on some songs as it's just the better instrument to use.

    I use it in blues, folk music, jazz but it's tough to make it work in rock, funk, etc.

    The learning curve for double bass is much steeper than for fretless electric. It really is a different instrument. You also get to deal with the fact that the technology for amplifying the double bass (unfortunately needed for most gigs) is still in it's infancy compared to electric bass. Go over to the DB forum and see if you can find ANYBODY who likes the amplified sound of their double bass!!!

    I am not trying to discourgae you at all because I love the instrument, but you need to understand what you're getting yourself into!
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well actually there is another step between these two - the electric upright. I have ahd a similar feeling to yourself that, I need to look at upright for Jazz, but I am daunted by the huge learning curve as Brian mentions. I have tried a few friends double basses and end up thinking how can you play anything on that! It is just so hard in comparison with the electric basses I am used to.

    But I have tried a Steinberger Electric Upright (NS-CR4) at the Bass Centre in London - they are made in the Czech Republic - and this seems to me to be an excellent compromise or transitional instrument. It sounds like a double bass on the low notes and has a similar scale length (with dots to help us bass guitarists!) but as you go higher up the neck it is actually quite easy to play and gets a sound not unlike a fretless bass guitar - heresy to upright players I know, but as a Jaco etc fan I like that sound! So you can get the real double bass sound for walking lines, but if you have to solo, you're not left floundering!

    Try this link :


    Oh and you don't get the amplification problems Brian mentioned either - the hollow body of the normal Double Bass, means that they feedback at amything other than low volumes - not a problem with the NS-CR4 and it's just as easy to amplify as a bass guitar.
  7. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    Fretless electric would be the correct choice for the music you mention. I'd only go for the upright if you intend to play acoustic (yeah, we use amps and still call it acoustic)jazz or classical music.

    I play both upright and electric and find that the upright is tough to play because of the strength required, however, I think it is easier to learn to play than most bassists think. I learned to play upright and I think any player can also learn if given the correct incentive and access to a playable upright bass.


  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    "Playable" is the watchword. If you decide to take on the upright, take steps to ensure that the instrument is set up properly, or physical injury will be the inevitable outcome.

    Voland: If R&B is your area of specialization, double bass won't really cut it. There are a good many electric basses which sound just fine in the R&B context; Ken Smith, Warwick, and fretless Ernie Balls all make excellent R&B instruments.
  9. I gotta agree with Bruce, the NS Design Electric Upright is a marvelous instrument which manages to capture the best parts of both uprights and fretless electrics. Only drawback is the price, which is somewhat steep.

    As for your personal situation Voland, I'd recommend finding a good fretless (the Peavey Cirrus you mentioned would be an excellent example...), and I think you'll be happy.
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    if i may add something here, any technical ability that is lost from the switch to fretless will be regained with practice. i don't think that that would be a sufficient reason not to go fretless.

    i think you'll find that playing fast on fretless is actually a bit easier than on fretted, although playing a relatively slow tempo, but dynamically and tonally evenly and _consistently in tune_ is probably the most difficult skill to master on bass guitar period.

    as for slapping, i slap on my fretless 7 string all the time - with a high gloss fretboard the tone and sound is fine - not quite as brite as fretted of course, but still very usable and musical, imo.

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