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"Fretless Tone"

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by bearclaw, Dec 16, 2000.


  1. bearclaw

    bearclaw

    Nov 13, 2000
    Steve,

    Have you ever listened to Mark Egan's fretless playing? If so, any idea how he gets such a beautiful tone? Is it a matter of compression or specific processors being used? It has a certain punch that resonates perfectly! Thanks.
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I love Mark's playing - and it's interesting to follow how his tone has changed since his days with Metheny back in the 70s.

    As for his sound, I'd venture that the main features of it are the Pedulla active bass with a very tough high gloss finish on the fingerboard, his roundwound strings and his technique. There are an article in Bass Player back in about 93 with Mark describing his technique - if you can find that, it's pretty insightful.

    As for processing, I'm not sure what goes into his sound, he may compress it, but I don't think there's too much going on like that.

    check out his website at http://www.markegan.com and see if you can find out more there. There's an e-mail link there which may yield more accurate results.

    Fretless tone is a fascnating area, with so many people choosing different variations on strings, pickups and fingerboard materials to get 'their sound' - I love the sound that players like Michael Manring, Jimmy Haslip, Mick Karn, Jaco, Steve Bailey, Pino and Alun Thompson get, but when it came to finding my own sound, I found that a less growly flatwound sound was more what I heard in my head than the bright singing 'mwah' sound that these guys get (with a great deal of variation between them, but certain characteristics that come with roundwound strings in common).

    cheers

    Steve
    http://www.steve-lawson.co.uk
    http://www.solobassnetwork.org.uk
     
  3. bearclaw

    bearclaw

    Nov 13, 2000
    Thankyou for your suggestions. Cheers!
     
  4. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    I mentioned in the Strings part of the forum that I have settled on Smith Compressors for now. I am kind of going for a flexibility to leverage my use of distortions and effects and have some pretty huge variations in frequency placement at different times.

    In fact, I'm not using bassists in particular for models, but music in general. When I play with others I try to accomodate the ambience of course, but I still haven't settled in on "my sound"... I guess I let my bass, pickups, rig, and accumulated bad habits and limitations do the defining of what common thread is "me" ; }


    <-- greenboy ---<<< not wanting to hijack Steve's soapbox here, but thought to complicate it for anybody looking for direction ; }
     
  5. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Good points Greenboy - strings are but one factor in defining your sound, though it's no use trying to get a roundwound sound from flats or vice versa, same as it's no use using a Trace amp to get that SWR tone. There are loads of factors that go into tone - if you hear something you love, do all your research and find out the details, but ultimately, it's as much in your hands as in your gear (my students sound nothing like me, even playing my bass through my amp etc.)

    It's all part of the fun of looking for your sound, finding the right bits of equipment, changing components, swapping bridges, trying new strings, new techniques, taking lessons to get a new feel, copying other musicians, putting new valves in your amp - all stuff that will give you a better idea of where your sound comes from.

    My opinions on what is 'my' sound change from time to time - I'll switch basses from fretless to fretted, or try a new patch on my effects unit - so it's a fluid continuum, don't get stuck with one sound that you feel has to be you - it can all change at any time! :oops:)

    Keep searchin'

    Steve
    http://www.steve-lawson.co.uk