Is there a trick to a fretless?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Alyosha09, Jun 23, 2001.

  1. Alyosha09


    Jun 16, 2000
    I was hoping someone could tell me if there is a trick to make a fretless sound most similar to an upright, I mean some fretlesses just sound more like an upright than others, is it the strings? bass? I use flatwound on my fretless, I think thats what uprights use right?
  2. You might try palm muting to get a more thuddy tone which is more like an upright.
  3. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I think you covered most of them in your question. The bass, the strings, your technique, and you can also add your amp EQ settings. The piezo on my fretless Stingray does a good job too.
  4. Palm muting seems to work for some people, but what I like to do is play almost over the fingerboard, and sort of mute it with my fretting hand, either by using other fingers, or by lifting my fretting finger to kill the sustain. Just play around with different techniques.
  5. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Both techniques discussed will work, but each for a different upright tone.

    The "palm mute" trick will give you that thuddy no sustain tone that's familiar from a lot of latin music, I used to use it a LOT on my Tito Puente Jr gig. The pluck up over the neck trick will give you that soft attack with a lot of growl and sustain, very mellow jazzy kind of sound. There's a tune on our CD ( ) called "Elena Mi Cariño" where I do that during the piano solo, and it's perfect. As a matter of fact the first time I did it was during a pre-production recording (it just "hit" me to try it then :) ), and our drummer yelled "YEAH!!!". It's right there on the tape (not the CD though :D), it was kinda funny....

    Of course, now that I've gotten a really good EUB, I don't gotta do those tricks any more. Now the trick is managing to be in tune on the EUB!! :eek:

    Actually one of the best EQ-ing tricks you can use on a bass is changing your right hand plucking position. I've a feeling this will migrate to the "Technique" forum soon....;)
  6. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    hey gard, could you explain to me that "plucking up over the neck" trick? thanx
  7. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Not to be a smarta$$ (;) ) but....just like it sounds, put your right hand over the fingerboard and pluck there. I'll go anywhere between the 12th and 20th frets, depending on the tone I'm trying to get and where I'm fretting with the left hand.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    In addition to plucking over the fingerboard, I also suggest changing your right hand position (if you are right handed) and elevating the neck a little so that you can strike the string with the side of your finger rather than the tip. It gives you a bit more of that acoustic sound.
  9. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    I don't ever touch my EQ or knobs anymore. I vary my sound purely by moving my right hand, and it works extremely well for me. As has been said, playing over the fingerboard will get you pretty close to the thumpy sound of the Double Bass. Muting is also a good idea, unless you're specifically going for sustain. Most of the time, I go for the sustain. In most situations, it's probably appropriate.
  10. I've found that using my third and fourth finger to pluck, while doing it over the fingerboard gets about the closest to an upright sound. I use those fingers because there are no calluses there and the attack is alot less "harsh" than when I use either of my first two fingers.

    But rolling the finger so you don't use the callus sounds like it would work the same.
  11. But when you are plucking, don't press the string into the fingerboard too hard, or you'll actually tap the note, which will make it sound, inadvertantly.


    I mean, the note you will sound is the one at the end of the fingerboard where you are plucking, not the note you are fretting.