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fretless tips..help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by vAns-826-, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. vAns-826-


    Jun 11, 2006
    i just got my first fretless yesterday (cort curbow)...i have 2 problems... sustain and intonation...please give ne some tips:help:
  2. threshar


    Jul 30, 2002
    Practice will help intonation.
    You need to play along with things, or with a tuner.
    If you have a looper pedal, record some scales or whatnot with your fretted bass, then play the fretless over it.
  3. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    For intonation on fretless, there ain't no shortcut--woodshed, woodshed, woodshed. And don't take a break from it either. It's like the joke about Ranger school--give 'em a 5-minute break and they need to be retrained. :D

  4. vAns-826-


    Jun 11, 2006
    thanx for the inputs guys...i think i should parctice harder and i will use a tuner too:D
  5. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

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

    Assuming that you know how a two-note chord should sound, a great exercise is to play "fretted" notes on the G string along with the open D. For instance, the A on the second "fret" of the G string played against the open D should sound as a perfect fifth. The D on the 7th "fret" with the open D should sound as a perfect octave. This can be done at every position (any interval), but again, you previously should know very well how an interval sounds (a tuner doesn't work for this exercise. It's cheating). I just mention these two strings because the lower you go, the muddier the sound of the chords and the harder to recognize. Of course, if you have a six-string fretless, working with the open G and the C string is even better. After you know the right spots, use the same exercise to work on not depending 100% on looking at the fingerboard to play in tune (playing in the dark is a great exercise). The goal here is: Learn to use your ears and trust them.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Always check your fretted notes against your open notes for good intonation. Using a tuner is useless. It's good for tuning your bass, but there are too many fluctuations for a tuner to be usable as a pitch training device. Use your ears instead. Every now and then, stop on a note and play an adjacent open string, and see if it's in tune with it. That's how you improve your intonation, by using your ears, not your tuner. You gonna stare at that tuner during a gig, you lump ya?
    Oh, and another thing that will help your intonation is to practice in a dark room. It forces you not to look at your neck. You will eventually reach a point where you will always look away from your neck because looking at it will make you play out of tune.
  7. vAns-826-


    Jun 11, 2006
    thanx Alvaro& jimmy..:)
    some people told me to use chromatic tuner and some told me to trust my ear..uhhh which one is the best...:help:
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Your ear by far.
  9. vAns-826-


    Jun 11, 2006
    thanx jimmy and everyone, i will use my ear and i think should turn off the light now...:D
  10. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I agree. The tuner is good for tuning the bass, otherwise its just too slow for playing, and intervals are out of the question. The other thing you might do is record yourself playing alone and with a recording... sometimes we hear things better when we are just listening.

    Keep everything as consistant as possible... posture, use a strap, keep your fingering hand position as consistant as possbile. Tune the bass accurately and often.

    I'm going through all this myself and I've found that I can check my intonation better when I'm playing melodies or bass lines that I know rather than scales.
    LowActionHero likes this.
  11. Either I am really lucky with my note/finger placement or my ear on fine pitch/intonation sucks :)

    I got my fretless maybe a month ago after 8 or so years on a fretted. While it is a much superior instrument to any of my other basses (black on black Tony Franklin Signature Fretless Fender P) to my surprise I pretty much hit the ground running with it.

    I can run my spider and play most songs I can on a fretted on the fretless without noticing any more errors and more recently I've been learning songs by ear (note for note for an original band) and I'm finding in some circumstances having the fretless on hand is more helpful than my fretted basses.
  12. Sustain => work your vibrato

    **on all FOUR fingers, not only the pointer or middle

    But don't go ape cause most fretless basses have less sustain to start with.
    Oleg BassPlayer likes this.
  13. kipsus

    kipsus Physicist

    Sep 18, 2005
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    I noticed that too. Maybe not for fast riffs but fretless does help sometimes.
  14. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I think that if you have been playing music for a while the transition to playing fretless is easier because whether you know it or not, your ear has been trained to hear intervals and you know what is in tune and what isn't.

    I played blues for what seemed like forever, so one of the first things that I will play is a simple "uptown down" shuffle (root, octave, flat seven, fifth) which is ingrained in my head. I know instantly if I'm on or not. From there I'll go on to practicing different intervals, major and minor thirds, perfect fourths, etc and then move on to different basslines. A big plus one to Alvaro's suggestion to playing along with a droning D string, I do that every practice session and it really reinforces the intervals.

    Another way to practice after getting yourself in tune with your self is to play along with another instrument. Either have a friend play a chord pattern that you know well or record one yourself and play along with it. Start with something you know well so that you have a comfort level. Play a basic line and then start harmonizing it. Your playing will improve greatly.

    Take your time and be patient and persistent. It won't come overnight, but you will probably reach a point where it all comes together for you. The "a-ha" moment. The amount of musical knowledge and training that you already have will go a long way with helping you improve.
  15. Ale


    Jul 5, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: IGiG Cases
    Practice Double Bass with arco , and you intonation on the fretless BG will be be alot better.
    It takes a lot of work , but its wonderful when you can controll the fretless playing.
  16. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY

    +1/2. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend taking up another instrument for the sake of learning fretless, double-bass left hand technique has a lot to offer in terms of improving intonation on fretless bass. First of all, if you play bass guitar with your left hand thumb thumb over the neck and your fingertips at an angle to the strings, that's a terrible playing position for maintaining good intonation and for making accurate shifts -- either on fretted or fretless bass. The double bass "C-shape" left hand position is much better suited to fretless.

    Also, learning and maintaining consistent left hand "shapes" at each position on the fingerboard (a very double bass like concept, regardless of what fingering method you use) will go a long way towards solidifying intonation on fretless.

    There are also a number of double bass specific exercises that you can use to practice intonation on fretless, e.g. the vomit exercise and 1-4/4-1 shifts to the same note. If you search the Double Bass Technique Forum for the word "intonation", you'll get a better explanation of these exercises.
  17. BargeOn


    Mar 19, 2004
    Congrats on your fretless vAns.

    One tip I'll add that helps and is pretty easy is to play along with a slow ballad. Real slow, down around 65bpm. Either a regular recording or on a play-along. Preferably an instrumental.

    I'm using an old jazz standard, Angel Eyes.

    Just two or three notes per mesure, bad intonatioin sticks out like a sore plucking finger.
    Great way to practice w/o looking at the fretboard too.
  18. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Sustain is to a considerable degree an instrument setup issue: you will get more sustain with a lower action. (To a point, of course.)

    Intonation: First, make sure your fretted AND fretless basses are carefully tuned. Then, play a song you know on frets for a few minutes; then switch to fretless and play the same song. Go back to frets, listen again, and play it on fretless again. Your ear will tell you where you need work.

    And don't be too zealous about turning off the lights -- while some muscle memory is useful, there is nothing wrong with watching where you're going!
  19. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago

    The "vomit exercise"?
    Oleg BassPlayer likes this.
  20. luca


    Nov 22, 2005
    I think the secret is to be confident, and just to play the damn thing! Really, it is simple as that. If you go on studying with tuner, etc you will go mad... Just take your bass at rehearsals, and play it with your band, you will get used to it really fast. Or as someone said - play along with tunes. Your fingers alrady know where to go even if you don't realize it, and your ear will help you to adjust the pitch. Nobody plays exactly in tune, the best of them simply adjust the pitch faster by rolling the ingertips.

    Oh... and I personally think that the unlined fretless is much better than the lined one, because you stop looking at the fingerboard, and you start listening to your pitch. I think after 1-2 days of playing home with tunes you know, you are good to go.
    Good luck!
    P.S. - I am aware this is an old thrad, but I just found it, and I wish somebody gave me this advic sooner :)

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