How easy was it to jump to fretless?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jack, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Just wondering how easy you all found it to make the conversion from fretted to fretless. Or did you start on a fretless?
    Im seriously considering a cheap fretless, nothing too extravagant, in case I dont like it. I need to know all about making the leap across.

    Thanks in advance
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The answer is going to have to be the less than useful, "it depends"...

    There are a lot of factors to consider - probably the most important ones are how much you want to play fretless and how much time you've got to work on it. If you love the sound and you can afford some time to get to grips with the new set of parameters then the chances are that it won't be much more difficult than continuing to learn fretted bass (that, of course, being greatly variable itself ;) ).

  3. Keech


    Oct 16, 2003
    All in your head
    I found it rather effortless. My first fretless was unlined (my gone but not forgotten Rick 4003FL). Lined ones require that they be fingered ON the lines rather than between as on a fretted. That throws some people off but doesn't bother me.
  4. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Wrong forum... moved.
  5. zeb


    Oct 23, 2003
    I started out on fretted and later on learned to play double bass, so when I got my first fretless earlier this year I didn't really have any trouble adapting/mixing the technique to it. Our beloved Jaco had an interesting way of practicing "fretless", play your fretted bass ON the frets instead of between them. I think that's a good way to learn how to find the accurate finger positions, but of course you have to practice on the real thing as well...
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Actually the only requirement on a lined fretless is the same as an unlined one... play in tune (if it's called for);). In tune might be ahead of, on or behind the actual line for each note. I use both and while I still think unlined looks better they basically play the same.
  7. Keech


    Oct 16, 2003
    All in your head
    A fretless bass is basically microtonal. So, in this case, a C# is not the same note as a Db. If you play one note open and try to harmonize, say, a 5th up on the next string and you play it by putting your finger between the lines, I can guarantee that it will not be a proper 5th. It will essentially be a wolf.

    I know one guy who can play his unlined fretless perfectly well and cannot stand my lined fretless because it throws him off. It is indeed kind of intuitive where to put the fingers but a beginner may need more than that.
  8. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Wow, thanks for the quick responses.

    Sorry for posting it in the wrong place.

    Think I might go for it (after my new amp :D )
    Something like a Vintage, £200, active, unlined. Thatll do me.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
  10. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I just jumped to a fretless for the first time and it wasnt hard. I just have to play a lot closer to the line (almost on top of it).
  11. Keech


    Oct 16, 2003
    All in your head
    If you're playing music written for equal-tempered music, you wouldn't play them as separate notes. You couldn't. If you're playing quarter-step music, you have to play them as different notes because they are. But you need an instrument capable of playing those notes.

    Whose guaranteeing anything? What guarantee are you talking about? Microtones be damned nothing! If you play a fretless you had better understand that putting your finger on the line and between the lines produces a different note and it will not be a half step higher or lower. I produce quarter steps on my bass all the time.

    That's fine. As long as you qualified it by saying "right or wrong" because some settings are definitely wrong.

    It doesn't change the fact that if you put your finger on the line and play the note there, it will be a different note than one played between the lines--generally it is a quarter-step in difference which is not found in the standard equal-tempered scale. Therefore one of those two notes will be out of tune with the song--which may or may not produce desirable results.

    All your statement is saying is that if you screw up your bass, it won't play right. No one to my knowledge is arguing that.

    Anything dealing with basses is a bass issue to me.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
  13. fallon


    Jul 6, 2003
    I got a feeling half-way through your inquiry that you were not exactly from America.I was right.Now that gut instinct which got me thinking that you were from our great U.K.also has me suggesting to you that you can go from fretted to fretless using gut instinct.Can you touch your left knee without looking?Can you touch the tip of your nose without looking? Of course you can!So let's talk about the bass,fretless or otherwise, as an extension of the body.Practise playing without using sight,you will soon find a way to 'sound the correct notes' on a fretted bass.Once you are happy,move onto fretless and I'm sure you will wonder what all the fuss was about!! That aside,stay cool.Scotland's slap bassist.."Fallon" coming very soon sweethearts!!!
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    It was easier than I thought it would be.

    I decided that I wanted to play fretless at church, so I went out and bought a nice used fretless Zon.

    I took it to church on a Wednesday night, and asked the worship director(also the assistant pastor, and has a degree in music) to let me know if I was too poor on my intonation, and that I wouldn't bring the bass again if I was noticeably out of tune.

    After the service, he complimented me on my intonation(he plays violin, viola, cello and string bass, among other instruments) and said that he wished that his students could pick it up that quickly.

    Of course, the lines helped, at first. And they are still nice to have for a reference, if I am in a situation where I can't hear myself.

    But over the last 2 1/2 years I have learned to play with my ears and muscle memory instead of depending on the lines.
  15. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    For me, on a lined fretless was cake. Plain fretless took a little more work, but not that hard. I only played both of these in a music store. I just got a feel for it, found out where my fingers go and just kept my ears open for warbles that said, "Hey, your fingers aren't in the right spot."

    Lined or not, they both sound the same. The blank fretboard just looks a little better and gets more respect. But if your in it to make music, it doesn't matter. But also, if you sit in at a gig, and you get handed an plain fretless, and you've only played lined, your SOL.
  16. i started on upright as a kid, then played fretted electric, then fretless later on. as i look back, i realize that a while after i started, i thought my intonation was pretty good. i was playing a defretted fender jazz with an epoxied board no less, but my intonation was actually only as good as my ears were. the longer you play a fretless instrument, the deeper your sense for proper intonation becomes.. and your hearing becomes much more acute. so, with the hearing i have now, i listen to recordings i made with buddies of my fender jazz years ago, and i'm like yuck! lol. unfortunately i don't practice fretless nearly as much as i should, so i don't think i have that perfect pitch thing going on in my hands right now. i've found that if i take time away from fretless everything goes south.
  17. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Fallon, what gave it away that I was British? Next youll be telling me that just from reading my posts you know that Im 14, Aries and in a band called Ignorance. Truly amazing. :D

    I just realised a few days ago that I could play my bass without looking. There were still a few mistakes I have to iron out, but im definatly getting there. I was talking to my dad and afterwards I realised that id been playing all the way through our conversation.
    Fantastic. :bassist: