Jack Bruce on Fretless

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Nov 3, 2019.


  1. I had no idea. Thanks for the info.

    Ha! That’s one of the songs my band does.
     
  2. ScottsTheLimit

    ScottsTheLimit Inactive

    Sep 3, 2018
    I loved Bruce's distorted tone, particularly on live Cream recordings.

    I hated his empty 2005 Cream reunion tone. Empty, no balls, no grunt, no thickness, no thrust. Same thing for Clapton's reunion guitar tone. Empty and sterile. Terrible.

    Bruce's fretless playing live to me was always horribly out of tune and sloppy. Especially his fretless solos...I don't see how such an accomplished player who'd been playing professionally for 50 years could have such horrible intonation and lack of finesse...and did I say appallingly out of tune?

    He should have stuck to being Jack Bruce...fretted, loud, distorted, and balls-out insane.
     
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Ellen McIlwaine from 1982, Jack on bass (with solo at 1:37)

     
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  4. Pedro Aznar made me want to play fretless. But Jack's playing is beautiful, sublime.
     
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  5. Here's two of my all time favorite songs with Jack Bruce on vocals and fretless.

    "Milonga", originally from the "Shadows in the Air" album.



    And THIS one, made with Black Sabbath's Bill Ward.

     
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis


    About the Cream reunion, Jack Bruce mentioned that they had pulled out the old gear for early rehearsals and did not like it. Most artists end up changing over a long career, and Jack Bruce certainly did.
     
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  7. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have exactly the opposite. I loved his old Cream era EB3 tone but I don't like his fretless work so much. Doesn't really sound like typical fretless to me and the intonation isn't always on par.

    I always wondered why he ditched the EB3 and started playing fretless?
     
    ScottsTheLimit likes this.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I guess he liked fretless.:) The good thing is that he made music close to your heart too.
     
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  9. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    He played the EB3 for what, five years? It wasn't around for "Fresh Cream", and I don't think it was on "Disraeli Gears". He started playing the Dan Armstrong and pretty much quit playing much fretted then. He played the Warwick far longer than the EB3.
     
  10. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    True, he played the Warwick much longer, but the music that made him a legend was played on that EB3. As I said, I like the Warwick sound much more than the EB3, but that’s just my opinion.
     
  11. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    But that doesn't make it better. I liked the overdriven tone of the EB3 and how he did the string bends back then. That got lost when he switched to fretless. I think his fretless tone is too woody. But that's just personal taste.
     
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  12. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Jack was also a DB player. That tends to make it easier.

    You hear it on Four Until Late on Fresh Cream. :thumbsup:
     
    Les Fret likes this.
  13. Jack Bruce playing fretless is one of those influences I always forget along with Boz Burell, I just love that organic sound in rock music. IIRC Jack played cello before playing bass as did many of the great jazz upright bassists before they switched.* People focus too much on Jaco and forget that there were many others doing groundbreaking work in other genres on that beautiful instrument.

    *Percy Heath, Ron Carter and Ray Brown, Eldee Young IIRC there may be others
     
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  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    How would being a DB player make string bends easier?
     
  15. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Your fingers tend to get stronger playing DB. IME string bends on BG then become no problem. You don't have to play DB. The same thing can happen if you play enough BG.

    Much of the apparent greater strength required to play DB actually comes from posture and the clever use of arm weight. However, some of that also has to come from the hand.
     
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I play DB as well as bass guitar but I never saw any relation with string bends. It's a different technique that requires different physics.
     
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  17. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Maybe, but it's always been easier for me when I've also been playing DB or a lot of BG, so I just chalked it up to finger strength. I'd probably have looked into it more if I hadn't been able to do bends.
     
    Les Fret likes this.
  18. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Yes the strength maybe helps. But I also play electric guitar and that was much more beneficial for getting better at string bends on bass.
     
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  19. This is crazy. Jack's moaning, yearning fretless style fits this Karl Jenkins -penned tune like a glove.
     
  20. dougjwray

    dougjwray

    Jul 20, 2005
    Jack said that for Cream he chose a short scale bass and light gauge strings so that he could bend strings (and do other things) like a guitarist. If you hear any of his upright playing from the days of little amplification and high action, in the early '60s, you'll see that he had abundant chops, and therefore sheer strength. But the "across the neck" motion of bending strings is different from the "along the strings" vibrato used by upright bassists and cellists.
     
    bobyoung53 likes this.
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