Fretted to fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by chips, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. Gday guys.

    I've been playing for about 2 years now, and ive thought about purchasing a fretless bass for a while. I like the feel and the sounds of them. Anyways, today i went out to look at some and played a MM Sterling fretless (lined) and a yamaha lined fretless. The yammy was really nasally and yucky. But i liked the MM.

    So heres little old me just noodling away on these basses, and a couple of notes sounded a bit wrong here and there and it took me a whole to get used to it. Which brings me to my question (finally). How different is the technique to playing fretless? What are the differences,etc?

    Chips :bassist:
  2. well if you are just starting out, get a lined one. but you have to remember that you have to intonate with your finger, so you have to have the string touching right where the fret would be for the note to sound right. when you do buy one hook it up to a tuner and play while watching if the note is right or not (make sure the bass is in tune first). this is an easy way to get the intonation down good quickly. then try just running some scales and easy songs (the don't have to be played on a fretless origianly). but most of all PRATICE!!!

  3. thanks man...
    i just did some googling and found some excersises involving using tuners and scales and stuff. But is this pretty much the only difference?
    Like, is there any particular style that a person should play? I know there arent REALLY any set rules to playing an instrument, but yeh, i dont wanna do it wrong and have to go through the process of re correcting my sh**house technique!

  4. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Really, the ony difference is you intonate "manually" as opposed to the fretted "automatic". Generally fretless players use the finger rocking technique for vibrato (similar to a violin player) - you have to as you have no fret for a lateral vibrato. Other than that, the skies the limit. Just because it's fretless doesn't mean you have to slide and slur from note to just allows you to do that if you feel like it. I've used fretless on recordings where a listener would would have no idea it's a fretless...
  5. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    As do I. One band I play with, I exclusively use fretless, and don't slide around all over the place. Maybe it is just me, but I look at fretless players who slide everywhere sofrt of like the slappers that wonk away in the music store.
  6. cool. thanks alot guys. now i gotta pull some beads and buy a four string, and teach myself to play :bassist:

  7. One final "note";

    You're well on the way to being a good fretless player. You can hear the difference! Use that listening technique with the tuner and go for it! You'll do just fine! I'm a convert, too, and although I'm not an expert by any means!, it is really a great asset to be able to hear that note and know that it is either "there" or "out". I've heard tell that we should use open strings to keep us on track with the intonation, also. It's helped me.

    Good luck!!! ;)
  8. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland

    Good fretless playing is all in your ears. Lines can be helpful but they are not 100%! You can still intonate badly on a lined fretless (trust me, I've done it :)). If you listen to yourself and really train your ears to recognize what sounds right and wrong then you can really play.

    I too am buying my frist fretless, though I've played fretless many times and already have decent intonation, I've just never owned a fretless of my very own.

    I'm jumping in with both feet though: custom Spector Euro4LX with unlined ebony fingerboard. I just prefer the look of an unlined board and when i play I tend to hold my bass such that I can't really see the front of the fingerboard anyway, so side dots will dot fine for me.
  9. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Resist the temptation to do the "nervous vibrato" when playing melodies. A little bit of the classical vibrato goes a long way.
  10. hey, 2 more questions and i think im done :)
    1- How does the fretboard hold up with wear from strings?

    2- I like the sound of slapping fretless, but again im worried about wood wear. Is it best to put a slap-plate on therE?

    (not really technique i guess but didnt want to start a new thread any where else)

  11. 1- I'm just starting to use my new FNA, but from the things I've seen on this forum, it seems that there a little, but it takes quite a lot of time for the fret wear to be noticeable. Hopefully someone here that's been using one for years can let us know!

    2- I heard a guy with the same FNA that I have slap on his and it sounded great!, and he didn't seem to feel the need fof the slap-plate. Doesn't mean that it's not needed, but it's the only one I've heard and seen close up.

    Sorry I couldn't be more help. Thanks for the thread, though; I'm learning a few things, too.
  12. :bassist:
    Go with flat wound strings. They wont gouge the neck wood the way round wound will.

  13. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    The wear on the neck depends on the finish used, the sound of a slapped fretless depends on technique and choice of strings.
  14. I bought a fretless about 4 months ago. It's unlined (vintage Fender Precision). I had a Yamaha RBX270 (lined) for a few months, about 2 years ago. That's my fretless experience to date :eek:

    Anyhow, I'm as convinced as the others that fretless is a 'hearing' thing. But I'd like to qualify that. When paying in a band situation it's sometimes difficult to hear properly. The notes are here and gone before there's time to make any correction to it. IOW, if the note's not intonated well, it probably has to stay that way.

    I've discovered, therefore, that private practice is where the work's done to sort intonation. Get it right at home, learn where the postions are and get them drummed into the old brain, and things work much better with the band. It's a muscle memory thing, I think.

    Use a tuner to plod around the board finding the notes. Use a metronome as well, because it's very very easy to get into bad timing habits whilst plodding!

    Can't comment on slapping cos I can't slap.

    For strings I use TI flats. Beautiful strings IMHO. No board wear, some mwah, fairly expensive and bucketloads of tone.

  15. i slap on mine, with EB super slinkies. sounds sweet and has held up well so far (year and a bit)

  16. Try the D'adarrio ground-wound, too. More tone, less damage. IMHO.
  17. cheersssssssssss
  18. I think your strings have a lot to do with the amount of wear you get. I always hear guys throwing out these "if you use round-wound strings on a fretless you'll eat clear through the neck and start on your thumb!" statements, but I've been playing with round-wounds on an uncoated rosewood board for some time now with no trouble. That includes plenty of slapping.
  19. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    I just received a fretless 6 string, my very first:eek: its a Warwick 6er I got from a fellow TBer, my question is...

    1: I play my fretless with the tuner and I have seen that if I play right in the middle of the side dots for example, my tuner is right on, I use the G major scale to practice, since I can see the A,B,D,E notes as I play them on the tuner, I have seen posted earlier that you have to play the note where the fret "would have been" or right on the line (if you have a lined fretless) to get proper intonation, could someone please expand on this, I want to learn my fretless with perfect technique, but I am a little confused now:meh: I am doing this right???

    it could just me :confused:
  20. pafriend


    Sep 21, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Regarding intonation, on my lined Warwick I play on top of the line toward the nut, and a bit behind the line the closer I get to the bridge. It depends on your setup. Since you don't have lines, I suppose the intonation adjustments are not as important if your ear is good.

    When I started learning it was on an unlined bass. I would play the G major scale as you would VERY slowly with a tuner. Call out the note names and listen carefully, so that you remember what that scale is supposed to sound like. Then play the scale without looking at the tuner. After a while you will notice when a note is off. If you are just a bit off you can roll your finger a bit to correct the note. Use your open strings as a reference whenever possible, since if your fretted note is off it will be very easy to hear. If you have access to a program like garage band, set up a piano to play scales, and record yourself playing along.

    Maybe others have suggestions about good exercises further up the neck. Even a tiny bit off there and it will sound like crap, which is what drove me to a lined bass. Some fingertips will have more meat on them than others, and that will also affect intonation.