Fretted player buying a fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mytt88, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. Mytt88


    Jan 18, 2011
    I'vejust blind bought a fretless after only playing a fretted exclusively for 15 years. Never played a fretless before. Just wondering if anyone has crossed over and am I going to experience as hard of a time as I think I'm going to lol?
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Learn to trust your ears and fingers. Intonation is the key.
  3. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    I played fretted only for 23 years before I bought my first fretless. Now a year latter, I rarely play my fretted basses.
    k.graz, bebi, kobass and 2 others like this.
  4. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I did exactly the same thing last year after playing fretted exclusively for almost 40 years. I divide my playing between my two basses now with fretless @ about 30%. Everyone I play with, all 5 bands, love it when I switch and we generally skew the sets in that direction when I do. You'll love it. As others have mentioned, its all about intonation. Have fun.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    One thing you'll really need to be conscious of is how hard you press the string into the fingerboard. Our tendency is to get into the "I am the fret" mindset, and use way too much fretting hand pressure. Take some time to discover how lightly you can stop a note and still get good tone.
  6. GrapeBass


    Jun 10, 2004
    Graphic designer: Yorkville Sound
    I'm most-definitely a 'fretted' player but have purchased a Squier VM Fretless JAzz BAss (Jaco-esque) and had the frets pulled from my acoustic-guitar bass.

    Since then I have not used the fretless as much as I like and it definitely has not taken away my desire for frets. What it has done is make my playing better. It's a good idea to use the fretless when rehearsing as you can tell which songs work best with the fretless and which work better with the fretted... you're playing will get better on the fretted so it's a WIN WIN.

    Bottom line is that it will not replace but reinforce your arsenal and playing style! Good luck!
    woodyng2 likes this.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    it's probably 'all in your mind' --- lots of adjustment involved, but it's the same instrument....just no more fences to jump! good luck! :thumbsup:
    gebass6 and Wisebass like this.
  8. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    First of all---welcome to the fretless "club". You have taken the first steps into a larger world.

    Second--don't approach this with the predisposed notion that you are going experience great difficulty. There is some adjustment required, but really, it's not the insurmountable battle that some make it out to be.

    Everybody that's posted so far has given great advice--listen to them and just take your time---playing fretless will be second nature before you know it.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  9. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Playing a fretless electric bass is all about muscle memory and a good ear. Ask any DB player on the DB side and they'll tell you the same. Play scales, play along with your favorite songs, and really listen to your intonation. Keep at it -- it's a blast!
    IamGroot, kobass and basspraiser like this.
  10. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    As long you have a good ear for intonation you'll be fine.
    Wisebass and MalcolmAmos like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Great advice. I play kind of hard. And, honestly, when I play a fretless it doesn't "sound fretless". I finger so hard with my left hand, and hit kinda hard with my right (which forces me to run slightly higher action) that there is zero mwah.

    In fact, I bought a Warwick fretless Corvette some years back. Nobody in the band even realized it was fretless at first because it didn't sound any different from my fretted basses.
    Wisebass and Element Zero like this.
  12. I did the same a few years back. I found it fairly easy to deal with in my trio. Particularly slower tunes. Fast walking blues lines, I'm not precise enough.

    If you have a decent left hand and good ears, you'll be fine.

    Have fun with it!!
    interp and Wisebass like this.
  13. I wanted to try out this fretless thing, no other reason than I just wanted to see what it was all about. Found out very quickly that I needed my side markers. My ears are 82 years old thus; one can not recognize words and the other is made of tin. On the fretless your ear keeps you in key. If you have to rely upon the markers for this - good luck.

    I gave it to a 15 year old I was teaching and he loves it. Young ears...
  14. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    I’ve really enjoyed playing fretless for the last few years,on my own. I’ve had a bit more difficulty incorporating it into bands with loud gtrs,cymbals,etc,but that is mostly in tandem with my general hearing loss issues. I do love playing it in acoustic situations.
    Being able to hear your bass is very important with fretless,unless you are disciplined enough to get perfect intonation via hand positioning. (I’m not). But the best thing is,once you start playing one,it is fairly easy to get. I did find i was able to play in a band situation and not emphasize the fretless sound.(like 2fingers said),but if i’m going to play fretless,i really want all the moaning,sliding,and mwahiness i can wrestle out of it,and i’ve gradually figured out how to do that.
    BritFunk and JMacBass65 like this.
  15. Mytt88


    Jan 18, 2011
    I'm playing in quite a heavy band but there's only a 3 piece so I'm hoping there will be plenty of space for me to slot in and hear myself. I think I'm going to need a lot if overdrive too
    LowActionHero likes this.
  16. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Mwah ha ha ha ha.....:cool:
  17. Versatek6

    Versatek6 Fretless is like Trombone

    Oct 7, 2008
    Twin Cities, MN
    I've been playing one on and off for a 3-4 years. It wasn't as hard to adapt as I thought it might be.
    If you usually finger notes between the frets, you'll need to get used to being right at the "fretline" to be in tune.
    Use open strings as an intonation reference point when you can.

    It's a little challenging, but not so much that it isn't fun.
    JMacBass65 and Wisebass like this.
  18. nbsipics

    nbsipics Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    You won't really know until you go. I bought a used Warmouth fretless 4 years ago at GC ( yes, that long ago ) that turned out to be a great player and got me started. Bought a Fender Jaco signature ( sub $2k model ) that was a giant step up. When you win the lotto, look into a Marleaux Diva. And for a more-realistic first choice for a experienced fretted player, look at the Ibanez Portamento ( available in 4-6 string versions these days ). Not bad.

    Enjoy the ride!
  19. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Guest

    Oct 1, 2011
    just use tons and tons of vibrato
    BritFunk likes this.
  20. silvertone


    Nov 6, 2007
    SF, CA
    I love playing fretless.... But I came to it from having played upright - not much of a learning curve.
    But I always find it takes me 5 to 10 minutes to really get things right - warming up before playing (once you get the hang of it) can be helpful. Don't fall into the trap of trying to be expressive - just play it like a fretted bass - with a sense of precision, and trust your ears.

    I own a fabulous Modulus fretless (w a carbon fiber neck)...
    I don't really need another fretless but yesterday I bought a Squire VM fretless for $60 via the local craigslist and that's a tough to beat deal...

    Good luck with it!
    Element Zero, MrLenny1 and GrapeBass like this.
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