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fretless tone on a fretted

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Matthew T., Dec 4, 2002.

  1. Matthew T.

    Matthew T.

    Feb 17, 2002
    Springdale, AR
    How do you do it? Jeff Berlin is a good example of a guy who sounds really, really fretless on his fretted. I've heard a local bassist who gets sweet fretless tones out of his fretted Warwick Corvette Pro 6-string. He even tried to explain it to me, much to no avail. Maybe I'm just dense. How do you guys get that smooth, fretless tone out of your fretted basses?
  2. Matthew T.

    Matthew T.

    Feb 17, 2002
    Springdale, AR
    After a little research, I'm thinking I should play with a light touch, turn off my tweeter, and add a touch of chorus. Any other ideas?
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Do it by removing the frets? :)

    Failing that, chorus might help a little, and a light touch as well, as you said.

    But, I'd say just get a fretless, or defret the fretted. Fretless basses are so much nicer to play IMO, and you get the real fretless sound.

    And if you defret your fretted, you'll have the advantage of still having the lines.
  4. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    I think using reasonably low action will help a bit too....
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes - I can get a type of fretless sound by having a very low action - especially on the D and G strings - then playing lines around the 12th fret can sound very much like fretless.

    I think a lot of people are also fooled by a very smooth sound - due to very good and precise technique - so Jaco played a lot of tunes on fretted bass - but many people don't notice!
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I will say I sound more "fretless" on my fretted vs. me on my fretless. That's how bad I suck on anything without frets!
    For some reason, I do get a quasi-chorus sound outta my fretted basses...that helps.
    (I've had people ask what sort of F/X am I using 'cause of that; most of you know how I feel about F/X, too). ;)
    I've also been playing an ebony fretboard with no dots for years...from a distance, it looks fretless, so maybe folks are thinking "that's a fretless bass" & so that's how they've convinced themselves(?).
    I dunno.

    Anyway, I would say I do not have "low" action by any stretch...
    I would say you must find that 'sweet spot' where you pluck + the amount of pressure exerted on the string when plucked. This will tke practice, patience, blah.
    Too, don't discount the fretting hand...attempt to play your fretted bass like you would a fretless. That is, use slides, hammer-ons, skakes, vibrato, etc.
    Back when Jimmy Haslip only played fretted basses, he said he could get a fretless vibe by "rolling into" the notes...I think he means this:
    Say he's targeting the "B" note on the "D"-string(9th fret)-
    He would begin by playing the "A"(7th fret) with his 1st finger & then roll into the "B" by 'hammering' into the "A#"(8th fret) & then onto the desired "B".
    PLUCK ONLY the 1st note("A" in this example).

    Whatever he did, it musta worked 'cause he sez he was often told by engineers to bring a fretted bass to sessions...& he only played fretted basses at that time!

    Above all-
    "Think fretless"!
  7. Matthew T.

    Matthew T.

    Feb 17, 2002
    Springdale, AR
    Thanks for the pointers and (please) keep 'em comin.' I'm going to put some roundwounds (most likely my old stand-by D'Adarrio XLs) back on my Carvin LB70 after I play a couple of old swing dates next week. I have TI Jazz Flats on the bass currently. I want that roundwound flavor on my 4-string, since I'm working on some 70s fusion tunes now. (I'm proficient on my Warwick 5, but much more agile on my 4. Plus, I feel like I can get closer to the vibe of the original tune if I'm playing a bass with the same number of strings as that used on the recording.) When I played fretless in the past, I was usually too concerned with keeping it in tune to enjoy myself as much as I should have, and staying in tune while reading an up-tempo chart is more challenge than I want. I aim to try to approximate that smooth fretless attack on my fretted Carvin for the best of both worlds.
  8. neptoon

    neptoon Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Melbourne, FL
    adding a bit of compression works well, too. ryan martinie of mudvayne compresses his 5 string warwick thumb through an ampeg rig with a dbx 160 series compressor and he gets a tone that can be very fretless sounding. plucking close to the neck will yield a more fretless sound as well...
  9. a bit of compression? how about a lot? :> my favorite lunkhead effect programming trick is to just set the compressor too high, and then your sound goes all bloomy since the bass signal squashes the tone, then as the compressor releases, you hear it bloom up.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yucch ...sounds horrible!! ;)
  11. hence the term 'lunkhead programming trick', since I don't like it either. it just happens because I can never set my compressor right :>

    It's probably up there with 'fretless simulators', although I've never heard one of those myself. I'm sure they do a similar thing.
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I CONCUR!!!
    ...and I'm sure Chris S. will find our comments totally predictable.

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