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Fretless players who REALLY play FRETLESS

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I know there's been similar threads here - but I wanna get specific. I hope this makes sense...

    There are undoubtedly lots of great players that use fretless basses, but I was listening to one last night, Fernando Saunders (w/Lou Reed) that I feel really milks the fretless for all it's worth. I was learning a couple of songs off of the Blue Mask album (My House, and Women), and I felt as if I were learning an entirely different instrument. The lines are all simple, no great Jaco Like gymnastics - but his style really makes the fretless sing.

    Sting plays a great fretless - but unless you listen closely you can't even tell it's a fretless. IMO he plays it like any other bass, with a few exceptions I'm sure. Same for the Pearl Jam guy (forgot his name), and dare I say Jaco??? I've heard some Jaco that really makes use of the fretless mwaaah capabilities, but for the most part it sounds as though he's playing a fretted bass.

    What fretless bassists really make use of the fretless and treat it like an entirely different animal. I want to learn from those guys - AND, if you can find either of the 2 above Lou Reed songs to download, please do so. you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about.

    - And I think Jaco is the greatest bassist who ever lived just in case anyone's gonna start arguing his playing - I was just trying to demonstrate a point. :)
  2. Well, since Jaco and Pino are taken, I'm gonna have to say Alphonso Johnson, great fretless player! Also, Alain Caron, what a freaking amazing player!

    Gary Willis is an amazing player, but he does play fretless like a fretted.
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Tony Franklin is one of my favorite fretless voices.
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Michael Manring
    Mark Egan
    Pino Palladino
    Mick Karn
  5. bassjamn

    bassjamn Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    Percy jones / BrandX
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    David Gilmore....that's right.... GILMORE.........can really make a fretless sing as well. Classic simple lines that drip soul as in the intro to "Hey You". No. that's not you-know-who. Please read "Saucerful of Secrets" the book
  7. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
  8. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I think Victor W. is a beautiful, tremendous fretless player; he's overlooked on that axe simply because he's so good at other things. Check out Three Flew Over...excellent, hornlike fretless blows and his Compito bass sounds incredible.

    Brian Bromberg is also good at everything, and his fretless playing is no exception. He plays killing fretless all over his Jaco record...doesn't sound like Jaco, though.

    Similarly, Marcus has always used his fretlei to great effect...but most people think of him as a thumper.
  9. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Steve Bailey is a monster fretless player who can really make the instrument "sing" when needed. Bakhiti Kumalo did a great job in Paul Simon's "Graceland". Hey, Joe: Maybe the answer to this question is obvious, but about Jaco's fretless recordings you've heard, do you know "A Remark You Made" (w/Weather Report)? That's one of the most beautiful songs played on a fretless bass to me.
  10. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Read here. (BTW, it's spelled "Gilmour" :) )
  11. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Jeff Ament.
  12. julo


    Jan 18, 2005
    Boulder, CO
    i knew Johnnyu deep played music but i thought it was guitar.
    shouldn't he go on a diet if he wants to go back to the screens or is he preparing a Bridget jones' diary male movie?

  13. since you mention Lou Reed, I also like Rob Wasserman's playing on Reed's Magic & loss album, albeit on a Clevinger 6 string EUB (hey, it's a fretless too).
    eg. "what's good" "cremation" "power and the glory".

    Mick Karn is my favourite as far as exploiting the possibilities with quirky slides and vibrato on fretless,

    some similar players I like;

    Paul Webb (talk talk)- today, strike up the band
    Derek Forbes (Simple Minds)- sweat in bullet, today i died again, king is white and in the crowd
    David J (Bauhaus/Love & rockets)- she's in parties, spirit
  14. Yogi Bear

    Yogi Bear

    Aug 14, 2000
    Tony Levin's Waters of Eden. All of the songs on this album were recorded with his fretless Ray.

  15. AGREED!!!

    Bailey...6 string fretless....

    Doesnt he use Aria? Signature models?
  16. Futurebass


    Jun 22, 2005
    Hugh Hopper from Soft Machine.

    Rick Danko used it well in the Band.

    And probably the first guy to use a fretless electric bass, Bill Wyman who played in an obscure Irish band called the Rolling Stones. He gets no credit for being the first (or one of). Check out "Mother's Little Helper" for nice early use of the fretless as an expressive tool. Sometimes people get so gear-headed that they forget that a simple player like Wyman who made so much great rock and roll is worth a hundred fusioneers chasing their own musical tails.
  17. Jack Bruce

    Also check out Richard Bona's tune Reverence on the album reverence.

    Cheers Rody
  18. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    Steve DiGiorgio.

  19. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Good call on Fernando! He (along with Pino) was a fretless influence on me very early on, before I even knew who Jaco was actually! There's this one album he played on, a Robert Tepper album called Modern Madness, that featured some nice fretless bits. The album itself is extremely dated late '80s pop-rock/power-ballad dreck, but Fernando has a couple great fretless moments on it.