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How do you get more attack out of a fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AmazingGracePlayer, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. I was playing a Pedulla fretless 5 today at my local Guitar Center, and of course, as everyone knows, fretless make these soft and mwah-ey sounds. But I was wondering, how can I get the notes more articulated? (Other than banging on the strings with my thumb)
  2. To get attack, I think you'd have to experiment with plucking hand position as well as different degrees of plucking intensity... I've read somewhere that Jaco used to say it is important to "cut the string"; i.e. to pluck a bit harder.
    My advice is to try many varieties of plucking position and plucking intensity... the sound is in the fingers, right?
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Just play closer to the bridge and don't collapse the fingertips.
  4. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Raising the action will also reduce the mwah.

    On a bass with lower action, have just enough of your finger tip to make the note sound.
  5. richnota

    richnota Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    Left hand (fingering) position is pretty critical. You can get a very articulate, crisp attack on a fretless--it just takes a bit of practice.
  6. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    Try soloing the bridge pickup,in addition to plucking closer to the bridge.
  7. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Heavier gauge strings might help
  8. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    If the bass has 250k pots, change 'em to 500k.
  9. alanbass1


    Feb 8, 2006
    Try growing your nails aka Classical/acoustic guitarists. I play Classical and a bit of bluegrass and, as such, have long fingernails on my right hand which really helps note definition when playing bass fingerstyle.
  10. On the (very) odd occasion I have used mine on stage, I use a pick. Apart from that,if I wanted it to get more definite on the notes, I'd have to get frets put on it. :crying:
  11. Some Groovy Guy

    Some Groovy Guy

    Sep 28, 2006
    Put frets into it? :p
  12. - run the bass through a decent chorus, turn up the gain.

    - turn off the neck pup and play right over the bridge pup or even behind it close to the bridge.

    - release or deaden the note with your left hand after you pluck it with the right (assuming your right handed, of course).

    - use roundwound strings. i know everyone says that they gouge out the board, but they really don't unless you have a VERY heavy hand. even a soft rosewood board can handle a lot of roundwound playing, and rounds make a big difference.
  13. Flintc


    Aug 15, 2006
    Would a pick make any difference? Even a rubber pick?
  14. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K
    the most important things to getting attack on a fretless in my opinion are

    using Rounds

    playing almost all on the bridge pickup if not completely and to pick over the bridge

    playing with the very tips of your fingers on your left rather than the flats

    having low action does a lot for it as you are gonna get a bit of fret(board) buzz in your tone (if you listen to any of those fretless players that have great tone you can hear buzz)

    playing with the passive tone control almost open all the way

    that should about do it, given enough time to play around i think you will probably find these things out for yourself but it is always nice to have someone else tell you and save you a load of time :D

  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Bingo. Add in working on your left hand muting and this is exactly what I'd recommend too. This will easily yield a quick, punchy, very articulate tone.

    On that Pedulla you should be able to mimic a fretted bass with both pickups on. Again, you need to control how long the note rings and LH muting can be a big part of that. Combined with some RH muting and it's not all that hard to slap on a two pickup Pedulla and have people think it's fretless. One key is to play it like a fretted bass. The frets don't move so neither should your fretting finger;)
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    It only seems like everyone says rounds gouge the fingerboard. There are many who know better;)
  17. I think leaving only the bridge pickup on is the best idea... or using a steel pick would work too I assume.
  18. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    on my fretless my fingers end up striking about half way between the bridge pickup and the bridge:

  19. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina

    Yep. I play steel rounds all the time. Eventually I see marks on the fingerboard from them, but they come off with 0000 steel-wool and baby oil. My guess is that it would take years (like decades) before divots starting forming in the fingerboard, and even longer before it started affecting the playability and sound. I think it might be a case where people see the marks and go, "Oh no! I'm tearing up the fingerboard!"

  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I'd be willing to bet that most people who say it haven't even experienced the wear... they just repeat what they've heard.

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