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Fretless: vibrato in low positions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kumde, Sep 15, 2008.


  1. kumde

    kumde

    Jun 17, 2006
    Finland
    So, from about 5th fret (or where it would be should there be frets :)) upwards I'm able to comfortably do a cello-like vibrato where the whole arm moves. Lower than that and it feels my options are:

    1) vibrato from the hand/wrist, feels smooth, painless and natural per se, but I have trouble coming up with a satisfying tone
    2) try lifting my elbow higher away from the body, the problem is it tends to lock my arm even more

    It feels plausible that woodshedding with option 1) could, with time, yield an even tone across the instument's range. But 2) or some other option to avoid radically different technique in a low position would intuitively be a more natural goal.

    What's you guys' approach on this?

    I wear the bass reasonably high, the end of the fingerboard is about at my navel. Not taking lessons at the moment as it's not quite compatible with my present schedule or wallet.
     
  2. Do you tend to go for a rather quick vibrato? I can see where that would be difficult in the first few positions.

    One thing you might consider is tucking the bass body under your wing a bit more so that the headstock is more in front of you and see if your technique works - it might be a tad awkward at first but might work for you.

    Otherwise, I'd reconsider option 1. They're low enough notes that they might not benefit from fast vibrato anyway, and with enough pressure you should be able to get a slow, broad, vibrato. Let your wrist lead the way instead of making it happen from your elbow - the way I do it, it's not unlike waving your hand back and forth while underwater.
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Low notes with too much vibrato sounds unnatural to me. I'm totally with Fretlessman on that. I don't even like to use it on low notes. I like vibrato styles that match the freqs. Higher freqs get quicker vibrato, lower ones get slower.

    Of course, I suck at fretless ;)
     
  4. Yeah, me too. ;)
     
  5. funkifiedsoul

    funkifiedsoul Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2007
    I agree with Jimmy and Fretlessman, well said. (Except for the "sucking on fretless" part;), I wouldn't know but I'll choose that they don't.)
     
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's my intonation. I don't work at it hard enough, so it's out to lunch.
     
  7. kumde

    kumde

    Jun 17, 2006
    Finland
    Thanks for your input!

    Most of the time I'm just looking for a bit of warmth in the low notes, not a huge wobble, but being too tense in the arm makes a kind of all-or-nothing deal where a note is either completely dry or shaking way too fast for my taste.

    Unfortunately I strained my shoulder a bit lifting things and have been unable to practise for a couple of days, so no status update now.
     

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