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How to get a fretless sound, with a fret bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MusicMan16, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. MusicMan16


    Nov 27, 2005
    hey guys i've been thinking, is there any way to get that smooth sound of a fretless on a bass that has frets? I would buy a fretless bass but I wouldent feel confortable playing it and i hear its challenging compaired to a bass that has frets so if theres any suggestions and tips, they would be highly apprechiated, much thanks.
  2. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

  3. anonymous278347457

    anonymous278347457 Guest

    Feb 12, 2005
    does that get some mwah?
  4. Well, you can't really do it, because you can't play the infinite range of microtones that ARE possible on a fretless.

    Having said that, I know there are some effects boxes that have some "fretless" settings - but I've never heard them so I don't know how well they work. Probably not very, but who knows.

    When I want to simulate a "freless-ish" sound, I just solo the bridge pickup, turn the tone full off, and use a little chorus.
  5. Bellbass

    Bellbass Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    I know Dominique Di Piazza, the french bassist, uses a special bridge that does just that, gives you the mwahh of a fretless on a fretted. Listen to Que Allegria from John McLaughlin, you'd swear Di Piazza is using a fretless!
  6. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yea there is a special bridge out there that makes your fretted bass sound like a fretless... pretty freaking cool if you ask me.
  7. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Seek and ye shall find...


    - Ugly.
  8. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    There's some threads around TB with info and personal experiences about this system. Seems interesting.
  9. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    You may feel uncomfortable playing a fretless at first. It takes some getting used to, and some practice. It is worth it. There is no substitute for the proper fretless sound. The sensitivity a real fretless bass offers can't be emulated in any way on a fretted bass, because the frets are in the way.

    So my suggestion to you, if you want a fretless sound on your fretted bass, is to pull the frets out. :) That's what I did about nine years ago, and I've been playing fretless bass ever since.
  10. Yep - what he said. Obviously a fretless is a fretless for a reason and if you could simply 'get a fretless tone' on anything, why have a fretless at all? That being said, you can emulate a fretless tone by adjusting your settings as Cristo said and playing with a 'fretless' attitude - make your lines more lyrical and languid and play with the sound that the chorus gives you.
  11. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA
    My teacher just put those bridges on his custom basses www.jakekot.com . I was able to play it and while it didn't sound exactly like a fretless (only a fretless will) it sounded passable and more importantly, it sounded good. But they are damned heavy.
  12. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    If you have a bass with a 3-band EQ, boosting your mids will help a bit.
  13. It's supposed to be challenging...Nothing good is easy.

    There is no true substitute, somewhere along the line a sacrifice must be made...Either learn the fretless or give up some desirable sonic quality on a fretted instrument to emulate the tone of one.

    Now, that being said:

    There are companies such as Digitech which offer fretless 'simulators' (essentially cutting off the initial attack and increasing the resonance of certain frequencies and overall sustain of the note) in their effects...You can judge for yourself here, I'm using a fretted Warwick for the low bass.

    It's handy on the fly, but it's not ideal, IMO.
  14. I've just bought a fretless.

    I now have a Fretted Warwick Rockbass Corvette, and a Fretless Warwick Rockbass Corvette.

    I love them both, but they're vastly different.

    I think the only way to sound like you're playing a fretless is to play a fretless.

    It's actually not that hard to sound reasonable on one. Sure it's more of a challenge than a fretted bass, but it's very rewarding.

  15. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    i would say in many ways its easier on a fretless....and its not just the tone but also the whole playing experience thats more fluid and expressive.
  16. eqvolvorama

    eqvolvorama Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2000
    Arlington, Virginia
    I can get a passable fretless sound by favoring the bridge pickup, boosting the bass, and plucking as close as possible to the bridge without plucking behind the bridge saddle.

    It aint great, but it requires no hardware purchases.
  17. That's not a fretless sound, that's a bridge pickup biased, plucking close to the bridge with the bass boosted fretted sound.

    To sound like a fretless, you've got to be playing a fretless.

  18. Some effects help, Boss ME-50B, has a 'fretless' effect, sounds nothing compared to an actual fretless, but makes a fretted bass sound more fretless than... a fretted bass.

  19. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    My fretted Jazz has got me some mwah, but I can't control it. I think it's advantageous to you to go try a fretless and buy one if you like it.
  20. First randomly move all your bridge saddles, then tune your bass as best you can. Next grab those tuners and put everything a little more out of tune.

    Now if you play, you will sound a lot like me on a fretless. :bassist:

    Best of luck,

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