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how hard is it to play a fretless bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bluntman_bass, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. bluntman_bass


    Jul 13, 2004
    Wilcox, NE
    how hard is it to play a fretless bass or how much experience do u need to be able to play one?
  2. It can get frustrating, and it takes alot of practice and a good ear. It doesn't take any more "experience" to play, just alot more practice and dedication.
  3. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    my first bass EVER was a fretless, didnt have any problems with it. but now i use frets.
  4. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Anyone can play fretless, it isn't difficult. If you want to play fretless well, then that is another story. Practice practice practice. Same is true for fretted.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I agree with Xyllion.

    How hard is it to play bass?

    There are also lined and unlined fretless basses. If you get a lined one, it's fairly easy to play. Most people I'd imagine could play in tune in just a few hours practice. An unlined neck would take a lot more practice. The more you practice the better you'll be, it's as simple as that actually....

    Hmmmm.... a rethinking of this. A good ear is actually very important to fretless playing. Can you learn songs easily off of cds, tune up with no problem, sing or hum notes easily in key? The better your ear the better you're going to be "feeling" or hearing where the notes should be.

    If you 're interested in checking one out I'd suggest going to www.rondomusic.com and getting an essex for $120. They're great basses and if you hate it there's not much lost. You could easily sell it for $75 too.
  6. How hard is it to play fretless? That's kind of like asking how hard it is to drive a car...it depends on what you're driving, where you're driving and where you expect to end up. It takes a lot of practice to play the fretless well and some people never get there.
  7. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    I never thought I had the ear to play fretless. But I broke down and got one. I've had it for about seven months and have been having a blast with it from day one. Not really all that difficult to get used to.
    Not saying I play it well, but I'm having a lot of fun getting there. :bassist:
  8. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    You'll never be able to have perfect intonation on fretless. Even the best of the best hit out of tune notes.
  9. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Easy as eating pie... Good pie.. Good pie that needs eating.
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, pie.
  11. It's only as hard as you make it.
  12. Just play it and you'll get used to it. Even an unlined fretless, with habit, becomes easy to play. It's a little harder than fretted, sure, but it just takes a bit more work.
  13. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    The first time I ever played a live gig was on a Godin A4 unlined fretless. Now I won't claim to be any virtuoso (in fact, as stated in another thread: I suck), but with practice anyone can play fretless. It is all about practice.
  14. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Well, it really depends on how focused you are as you're playing. I'm the bass player in school, and I'm on the upright about 90% of the time.... I started out with some masking tape on the fretboard to point out where the frets would be. After about a month of carrying the low-end with the 1-man Tuba section, I could EASILY tell when I was out of tune, and I really didnt need the tape at all anymore. It looked like crap anyways :p

    Then again... I have a fretless (lined) Stingray packaged in a huge box right now and I'm shipping it out of here forever... so its really all in preference. I picked it out thinking I'd be playing "Jerry was a racecar driver" all day, but instead I'm finding myself using a pick 80% of the time and jumping around a lot.

    (Actually, I've been playing drums all the time. CURSE Those hard-to-find drummers! :spit: )

    Bottom line... you can handle a fretless, as long as it suits your style. It's got positives and negatives, just as any piece of equipment does for certain people.
  15. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I'd thought about a fretless for a long time - between doubting my capacity and the limited application of fretless as to whether I'd really use it if I could play it.

    I defretted a bass about a month ago and have been dinking with it off and on. It was suprisingly easier than what I'd thought to play in tune - of course I thought it would be next to impossible. I read a piece about Jaco first getting his and gigging with it the first night he got it. Apparently he was all over the place with it and he'd played upright - so it takes some time. As long as you can hear where you're wrong, you'll be okay.

    Lines are helpful as training wheels but they're not as necessary as I'd assumed they'd be. I guess a lined fretless is lined in accord with where you should actually play but I know when you defret, the closer to the nut you play, the more you drop back from where the fret was to be in tune.

    It's actually taking longer to get it setup properly than to learn to play it. You've got no real margin for error because the strings are so low. That and getting just the right buzz across the board. There's no play in frets to dress like you have with a fretted bass to get it just right. If you can't get it right with the truss rod, nut, and bridge - there's only board, unless you try different strings. The thin tolerances also make it more susceptible to climatic change, which doesn't help.

    But I find it's the first bass I pick up just to dink around on. The tone is so much like a voice that it makes me want to use it like one. That and the fact that you're not limited by half steps. Instead of picking it up and playing the usual riffs or passages out of songs (what's the point cause it's not going to sound appropriate anyway), I just start making up melodies cause, unlike a fretted bass, it sounds melodic. If nothing else, for me, it's a great tool to break habitual patterns of play and force me into some experimentation and have fun in the process.

    Time will tell about the use it gets. I can always refret.
  16. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Or in my case....

    I learned about half of "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" and decided "Wow..... this is absolutely useless for me"... but hey... Primus is Primus nonetheless.

    Jerry was a racecar driver,
    He drove so gawd damn fast!
  17. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I started out on fretless.
    I find fretless eazyer to play than fretted.
    Just work on intonation.
  18. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    It's super-ultra-mega hard.

    Actually if you have even a bit of an ear and a whole bunch of patience you should be able to play one with no problem. I love both of mine (see sig for new one) and use them constantly.