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fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by riotboi911, Dec 28, 2004.


  1. riotboi911

    riotboi911

    Dec 18, 2004
    finally finished my fretless p.

    its lined. so makes it abit easier.
    are there any techiques or anything important i should know about fretless?

    thx.
     
  2. Jazzbasslover

    Jazzbasslover

    Dec 8, 2004
    I haven't been playing fretless very long but I'll try to help.

    1) I wear my bass a little higher when playing fretless. This forces a change in the angle of my left wrist which allows me to play notes with more precise intonation especially when playing faster passages. However, I don't wear it so high that the angle of either of my wrists feels unatural.

    2) On a fretted bass I tend to play flat fingered using alot of the meat on the pads of my fingers on my left hand. On a fretless I use the tips of my fingers as it also promotes better intonation.

    3) Don't concentrate so much on playing fast at first. If your a speed demon on a fretted bass then the speed will take care of itself. When starting out, concentrate on.... you guessed it, intonation.

    4) I have a lot of fun.

    Congratulations on the jump to fretless. It's a blast and if you're at all creative (and I'm sure you are) then it's going to make you see possibilities for the instrument that you never knew before. It also makes me want to overcome my limitations as well as experiment sonically.
     
  3. riotboi911

    riotboi911

    Dec 18, 2004
    i got most of what said within the first 2 hours of playing. ive realized that im not even hitting the right note. so ive realized precision is a big concern. and especially with fretting, its alot harder. but i look at it like another thing i can work out on bass. fretless has opened up alot more possibilities.
    thx for the info.
    cheers.
     
  4. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Make sure your bass is intonated.

    Use you ears.

    Try playing scales against a non-tempered instrument. You'll see how in or out of tune you are.

    Good Luck
     
  5. DOn't rely on your fretlines too much. They're a great help when you need to check whether you're actually near where you should be, but not a thing to rely on. The coolest thing is playing something long with no open strings, then looking down and seeing that you ended right on top of a fret line, so you know you're hearing where you should be.
     
  6. riotboi911

    riotboi911

    Dec 18, 2004
    how do i check if my bass is intonated?

    what are good pieces to learn on fretless?
     
  7. JazzerHF

    JazzerHF

    Dec 14, 2004
    as far as fretless goes, go through some nice, slow melodic songs... i.e. the melody to jaco pastorius' continuum (once you feel that your intonation is on it, the solo is a good thing to tackle) and basically as i said before, anything slow and melodic
     
  8. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    The same way you do on your fretted. play the 12th fret harmonic, and check it against the 12th fretted (even though there aren't frets). and move your bridge saddles accordingly. Gary Willis has a great website, though I can't remember the link. I'll look for it for you.
     
  9. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
  10. Harmonics really like to ring out on the fretless since you're right on top of them. It helps a lot to mute strings with your other fingers behind where you're fretting.
     
  11. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    You shouldn't try to mute strings with your left hand while you're trying to fret other strings, that's counter productive to your technique. If you're playing on higher strings, mute the lower strings with your thumb, pinky, and perhaps ring finger of your right hand. If you're playing on the lower strings, the higher strings won't need to be muted because they won't ring at all if you use decent technique.

    Also, the harmonics don't naturally want to ring out more on a fretless. If you're using flatwounds strings, the harmonics may be even harder to get out. You get your clear harmonics by using clean technique, plucking near the bridge, using the back pickup, and adding a little compression and upper-mid EQ to the mix if necessary.
     
  12. I meant that they like to ring out on the strings you're playing, on top of the note you want, since you're fretting right on top of the node and there's nothing to mute them. Obviously, you can't mute that with your plucking hand. Of course, that gets you some cool effects as well, like playing a harmonic then hammering on right on top of it to play two notes on one string.
     
  13. riotboi911

    riotboi911

    Dec 18, 2004
    ummm

    im.......now that ive realized that ive been playing not completely in tune. ive questioned life itself. lol jk.

    but im trying to get the 24th. is that too much to ask?
    its so difficult?

    do you guys bother with that?
     
  14. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Sorry not trying to hijack, when you play a fretless do you fret on the fretline?
     
  15. I do. The intonation article linked says that you need to change your fretting position depending on your position up the neck. My bass, however, stays very close all the way up the neck. I don't see why it wouldn't. The fretlines are where the frets used to be. You'll have to check whatever bass you play. You'll also have to decide whether you want to play the note precisely "in tune". Your bandmembers could all be slightly off, or your open string could be. Rely on your ears, not the lines.
     
  16. Whafrodamus

    Whafrodamus

    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Yeeaaaahh.. I'd have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one. Muting with your left hand is a great technique, and works extremely well with fretless. The good thing to learn how to do is control which strings you want to mute and which ones you don't. Muting with your left hand can also get you those cool jaco-esk muted notes with this technique. Also, I'm not saying neglect your right hand. Use both, it's good for you.

    And did you get the memo on those TPS reports?
     
  17. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Uhmmmm....yeeeaahh....we're using the new cover for the TPS reports now, I'll make sure you get a copy of that memo... :D

    Yeah I'm going to totally agree with you on this one, left handed muting can come in pretty handy, and being able to mute w/ both hands will work out to your advantage, alot, especially for playing different styles of music....
     
  18. tww001

    tww001

    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    mmm...yeah, you'd have every right to disagree with me if I had said that left hand muting was bad technique all in all. I wasn't being that general :meh: . I suppose I should have said "preventing strings from making noise."

    I was referring to instances when you're playing harmonics, not overall playing technique in general. You don't want to use your left hand against the fingerboard to try to stop strings that you're not playing when you're being precise about barely touching the strings to get out those harmonics, especially difficult ones. Otherwise you'd get your hand is some weird positions, or sacrifice precision. Prime example is "Portrait of Tracy." Maybe our technique is different, but when I asked my bass teacher about it, he agreed that it's best to use the right hand fingers to stop the open strings when playing those tricky triple-stop harmonic passages that Jaco created.

    Left hand muting is an important technique that should be employed when necessary, and you can get some awesome sounds with it.

    But I guess those kinds of generalizations are expected from a self-taught high-schooler! By the way, I'm gonna need you to come in to work Saturday. That'd be great. ;)
     
  19. BMGecko

    BMGecko

    Sep 5, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    I've been playing fretless since '89, and some things that I would share would be...

    Play the fretless A LOT. Get used to it, and realize that it is a different beast than the fretted. Don't use it for everything your band is doing, or for pieces you've written. If you have a slap line to play with your band in a certain song, use the fretted. But if something in a song or your heart tells you to play yhe fretless on something, go for it!

    Intonation will come, just practice your scales, and really listen to what you're playing. Don't just practice single note lines, play douple and triple stops to get your fingers used to doing the right thing.

    Along with learning intonation is learning vibrato. You aren't always gong to be spot on with your intonation, these will be great times to learn how to expressively use vibrato to cover up your mistake. Vibrato on a fretless sounds woodier and more natural/vocal (to me) than it does on a fretted instrument.

    Come up with opportunities to use the fretless, whether it be melodies in songs you/the band you'r in does, perhaps being the melodic voice in intros or bridges... Making vocal sounding lines, lines with slow slides (like Jaco does at about 1:24 and 2:00 into "Birdland", or Percy Jones does so well all over the place) and generally doing the things you CAN'T do on a fretted take time to learn but ultimately help.

    Years ago a friend gave me crap for having great intonation on the fretless, and not using it like he would use a fretless. I took this more as a compliment since he said he couldn't tell I was playing a fretless, but through time I've tried to gain much more facility and expressiveness with no frets.

    Hope this food for thought might help you a little.