How to improve w/ fretted bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by PennyroyalWe, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. PennyroyalWe


    Sep 2, 2018
    I play in an all-originals local band, (we pretty much only do showcase shows, if that matters?). I joined the band last summer, and I have been using a fretless bass as my main bass for about 7 years now, which is all well and good as the BL prefers I play the fretless. But I’m only human, and suffer from GAS like anyone else.

    The couple of times I’m tried out different (fretted) basses at practice, it feels like I’m running on the beach. It’s just a little harder to do everything, almost like the frets are getting in the way. It also makes my fretting finger feel like it’s too far away from the fretboard, and I’ve had the issue of slipping off the string into the spaces in between strings a time or two (though, switching to flats has helped remedy that).
    Talking with the BL about it at our last gig, they’re saying how they can really tell the difference when I’m on frets, both in tone and feel, and it actually kinda messes them up because the parts don’t fit together like they should. Point taken; for this project, no frets. But it also highlights that there’s a SERIOUS discrepancy between my ability on a fretless vs fretted bass, the latter being lacking.

    Is this a problem others have encountered, if so what are some good exercises to improve? How do I get past this feeling of a neck covered in speed bumps? Aren’t frets supposed to make it easier? It’d be nice to be well rounded in ability, even if I’m not using it in my current setting, for whatever may come in the future.
  2. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Just play it on a regular bassis and you'll improve.
    Scales & tunes.
    PennyroyalWe likes this.
  3. PennyroyalWe, that is a good problem to have. So to speak...

    I would normally say 'play the fretted exclusively until it feels right' but that won't work with your current gig.
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  4. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    There are indeed tactile variants when picking up a fretted bass. My solution was to just not own/play fretted basses. This worked for me due to the music I play - a naked board is the only way to go.
    I'd say just play scales/exercises up and down to get used to the different feel. NBD!
  5. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    There are lined fretless. Kinda accomplishes what you seem to be wanting.
  6. Colyn

    Colyn Supporting Member

    May 31, 2019
    nickledime, California
    I'm just switching to fretless and I am frustrated I can't groove the same way for now but am terrified to go back to fretted. I'm pretty convinced that I need to stick with one or the other. I appreciate your comment - my brain/body seems to work differently on each.
  7. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Reading between the lines. With a fretted we can fret between the frets. I think you are fretting right on the fret wire, like you would do on a fretless, and this is the speed bumps you are feeling.....

    With a fretted it is not necessary to fret right on the wire. Point being the strings needs to hit the wire fret for the correct pitch, but, our finger can be behind the wire - as long as the string makes contact with the fret.

    Being behind the wire we can slide over the "speed bumps".

    [​IMG] Yes the picture is a 6 string guitar, but, notice how the little finger is fretting just behind the fret - that is the point I'm making. The little finger fretting the note right behind the fret got the job done all the other fingers in the picture are just laying on a deaden string.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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