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How difficult is fretless?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Komakino, Mar 30, 2001.

  1. Hey, here's a question for all you formidable fretless fanatics out there.....how hard is fretless to get used to? What I mean, is when you started out with it did it take you a while to adapt to, did your fingers get 'lost' on the neck, or did you take to it like a duck to water?

    I'm not actually considering taking it up at the moment because I'm still very much a beginner with the bass, but I'm just curious....maybe I'll bear your answers in mind for the future.
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    How bad do you want to play one? IMO that's the key.
  3. I think there is a thread about this. Can't remember what it's called though.

    Fretless can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. How good is your ear? How good is your left hand (assuming you are right handed) technique? How comfortable are you with the idea of not having perfectly designated tempered semitones.

    To me, fretless is like painting in colors while playing a fretted is like painting in only shades of grey. There is a lot of expressing possible that just can't be had on a fretted, in my opinion.

    You have to ask yourself why you want to play fretless. Because its cool? Then you are going to have a hard time with it.

    Because you want to make sounds that aren't possible on a fretted bass? Well then. You are going to have to practice alot.

    This is the crux of the matter. Fretless takes a lot of practice. And not with your eyes on the board. Listen, don't look.

    When I first learned fretless, I practiced in a dark room. Really developed my ear.

  4. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    I am by no means an accomplished fretless player. Last year, I de-fretted one of my Jazz basses as an experiment. I can see how these 100% fretless guys fall in love with it though! I did fill in my fretlines, and honestly, I would be lost without them due to the fact that I am 30-something, have been playing fretted for 18 years, married, have three kids involved in little league, 2 bands, plus my daytime job, so my aspirations to be like Jaco are tempered by the realization that I have about 1 minute of quality practice time per month! It is worth it, however, when you use your fretless to give a song a little different flavor it didn't have before, and the rest of the guys turn mid-chorus and gives you this "man, that was cool, where did it come from" kind of look! I love the sound I get from both of my basses, and I just use whichever I think makes the song sound best.
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I started on fretless 20 years ago. No sweat. [​IMG]
    Quit bass between -87 and 2000, sold the Ib:(
    Restarted on a fretted - can't get used to the bad, uncontrolable intonation :mad:

    Get the picture;)?
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000

    Depends on if you're a SUPER duck or not. ;)(~sigh~ ...sorry)

    I will have to agree with the posts above with the emphasis on PRACTICE. It does pay off, however, in the fact that you develop your ear a lot. I would suggest starting out with the fret lines, you can always get a new fretboard without 'em later. Also, while it's possible to slap, don't count on it sounding as good anymore. The metal hitting metal isn't there anymore, so it's more of a THUD. However, with practice (again, a keyword), you can do anything on a fretless. Look at how Les slaps on his fretless.
  7. gonzo85


    Mar 25, 2001
    I agree with Friday in that your skill on a fretless is related to your motives for playing. I thought it "sounded cool," so I picked up a fender jazz a couple months ago. You have so many more possibilities than you do on a fretted bass, but I didn't have the drive to get good. Sounds great, but a complete pain in the ass.

    And maybe it was my crappy bass, but sometimes I couldn't get the crisp, mean sound that I sometimes wanted.
  8. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    I'm not saying it is easy but there is a monkey in the St. Louis zoo who is an accomplished fretless player.

    Just kidding.

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