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Having a little difficulty adjusting my technique to fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Smallequestrian, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll

    Jul 6, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Beta Tester: Source Audio
    I was not sure where to put this, as it could either be a setup issue or a technique issue, but I put it here. I just got a Fretless Bongo and boy does it sound great. I have one issue with it though. If I don't 'fret' the 'D' and 'G' strings with my finger tips I get kinda a buzzy, thin sound. Unfortunately my usual style is more with the pads of my fingers. I understand that playing fretless can need a technique change, but this seems to need a little more compensation than I would like.

    The Bongo is setup with Sadowsky flats and seems to have a nice setup. It is clear though that I cannot fret the D and G strings the same way I do with the E and A strings and still get a nice full sound. It seems like the basic issue is that I need to make sure the strings have solid contct with the board so eliminate the thinness. It seems like I am needing to put more pressure on the string to get that solid contact.

    My question is, Is this mainly a technique issue or does my setup need a little adjusting? For instance like lowering the action a little bit.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Interesting. Usually playing with a collapsed finger tip and the pads of one fingers produces a thicker sound on the fretless, whereas playing with the fingers arched leads to a thinner, more defined tone.

    If the opposite is the case, I'd suspect the setup is to blame - maybe the D and G are too low and are rattling against the fingerboard.
  3. Do you not have the hand strength to push down the strings all the way to the board? If this is the case then lowering the action will make the distance you have to push the string shorter = easier. This might also have a wanted/unwanted side effect depending on the sound you are going for.

    *Lower action on a fretless often leads to more buzz or mwha or growel or whatever you want to call it.

    On the other hand, If you are pushing the string all the way down to the board and making full contact, and still have buzz, then this is an example of the aformentioned* side effect. Then your solution is to adjust you bass for less buzz.

    As with every adjustment you make, small changes= big results. Start small and work your way to a proper setup.
  4. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA

    That's the first thing I thought of, too. If the action were too high, your D and G strings would have a fuller, rounder tone that the E and A strings.

    I've not had that problem with my fretless basses, so that's purely conjecture.
  5. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll

    Jul 6, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Beta Tester: Source Audio
    I don't think this is it, but I think when I get home today I will try raising the action a bit. The saddle on the G string in particular seems to be very low. I had my thoughts of how the change of action would affect opposite of how it is. But now it makes sense.