Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Fretless Problems!!!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Richy Blackcab, Feb 15, 2005.


  1. I got a yamaha fretless for xmas, hoping to create a new angle and sound for our band, to differentiate ouselves from the other bands around sunderland, but so far i havent been able to think of any enormously cool fretless lines that dont involve absurd overplaying. can anyone help me by suggesting any stuff i could do/use and other things please?!
     
  2. You do'nt neeeeed to slip-slide all over the place to have a good fretless bassline. Some slow songs sound absolutely great on fretless, just to hear that buzz.
     
  3. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    To me, it's the little articulations that really make a fretless stand out. Take a line you normally play, and try this: for a note that is the resolution of a phrase or line, hit the note but immediately slide up a whole step (or half-step), then release it and play the original note. Also, sliding into notes at the right moment, even just a half step (especially if that note is not in the "key"), can add some very nice tension & resolution to an otherwise routine bass line.

    Little articulations like this can be beautiful on fretless. Think of how good singers move around, over, and under melody notes to add interest to a line. Used tastefully, at the right moments, it will never be considered overplaying. I think of fretless as my most vocal instrument, so why not think like a singer?

    (Jaco liked Frank Sinatra, Marcus likes Stevie Wonder...)
     
  4. Vibrato...vibrato...vibrato.
     
  5. dodgy_ian

    dodgy_ian

    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    bit of chorus, some nice bright strings and get that mwah sound.

    Dodge
     
  6. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    Yes, yes, yes! It took me a while to break out from being too conservative with my fretless vibrato. It finally snapped with me one time I was listening to Marcus Miller and heard him sliding all around a note, and thought wow, that's way more vibrato than I usually do... so I turned up my own vibrato, and man, it really helped me be more fretless!
     
  7. Vibrato is the portal to your soul...more so than any other technique IMO.
     
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Not good to overuse it, though. THEN IT GETS TO BE LIKE SHOUTING ALL THE TIME.;) :bassist:

    Just because you're playing a fretless doesn't mean it's best to do as many fretless-y things as possible. Sometimes what's needed is just to hit the note in tune, in time, and with no funny business. It's easy to get too addicted to vibrato or mwah.
     
  9. YEAH THAT"S TRUE!...oops I mean...good point. :ninja:
     
  10. Justyn

    Justyn Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    I think Richard makes an excellent point.

    Familiarity with the instrument as a whole and the way it responds; the whole tonal range of fretless bass, will go a lot further than concentrating on a single technique, so it may be a matter of getting more acquainted with the instrument rather than emphasizing one technique which can introduce the risk of 'Hey, check me out, I'm playing fretless!-syndrome' which is similar to the 'hey, I got a five-string and now *all* D's are low-D's-syndrome' and can be just as irritating.

    One of the things that motivated me to move to fretless in my old band was the addition of a second guitarist. Formerly, we'd been a trio and I had a lot of room to move around and plenty of space to stretch out underneath the single guitar. When we added a second guitar I found myself pulling back and playing more restrained lines in order to adequately support the denser harmonic structure provided by the two guitars without getting overly busy. Rather then notes, my focus shifted to tone, and the kind of round, midrangey tone I was hearing in my mind as perfect for support suggested that fretless was the way to go. The acquisition of an old Jazz Bass Special Fretless and a lot of time spent adjusting my technique to the instrument confirmed that theory and I played fretless for the rest of my tenure in that band.

    Mind you, I wholeheartedly support the complete use and abuse of any and all fretless techniques, but I think there's a necessary incubation period while you get familiar with the ins and outs of the instrument.

    Hope that helps,
    J.
     
  11. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    Just keep in mind that note choice is still much more important than vibrato (or any technique, for that matter), because vibrato can't polish a turd.
     
  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    It does make it more expressive, though ... :bag: :D
     
  13. I would not recommend a chorusing effect for fretless ...especially if you're a beginner fretless player ...could screw up your intonation. For examples of how you could play on fretless, get some of Pino Palladino's work (phil collins 'I wish it would rain down' ...'everytime you go away' by ..umm, I forgot the guys name! he was huge in the 80's)
     
  14. Justyn

    Justyn Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    That would be Paul Young.

    He says, dating himself.

    J.
     
  15. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    Hey, I guess that's true! :) If you're going to say something lame, might as well say it in a really cool voice, eh?
     
  16. Justyn

    Justyn Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    I think Wordsworth wrote that...The Expressive Turd...
     
  17. fraublugher

    fraublugher

    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    /really cool george tokai voice

    "hi , im george tokai , you may know me as sulu from star trek "

    i played a tokai fretless once and it sucked , but it was not without kitsch value ;)
     
  18. dodgy_ian

    dodgy_ian

    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    only if you go crazy on the amount of chorus you put on would it really mess up your intonation.

    But each to their own basically. I think a bit of chorus on the top end sounds really sweet and I dont find it in the slight bit problematic in terms of intonation.