Low notes on fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MNbassboy, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. MNbassboy


    Oct 9, 2001
    Bemidji MN
    I have been trying to learn fretless bass for close to a year now. I have made quite a bit of progress, but I have a long way to go. My main problem at this point is accurately hearing the pitches at the lower range of my (5-string) instrument. My pitch discernment has gotten to be pretty good in the higher notes, but anything I play on the B-string, and quite a few of the lower notes on the E-string are problematic. I just can't tell where I am at. Sometimes when I am playing in this range, I KNOW that I am NOT in tune, but I don't know if I am sharp of flat. I would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks!!!!!
  2. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Mmm... if you cannot tell if a note is sharp or flat, then you need to practise your ear a bit more. How do you tune your bass? First thing - ensure your bass is in tune. It is frustrating when the bass is out of tune in the first place to play in tune. When playing fretless in the lower registers, it can be sometimes difficult to hear the note because it is so low - make sure you can hear your bass. The trick is not to look at the fretboard, but to use your ears exclusively. Close you eyes when playing. Look up. Practice with some music and practice playing in tune. Try using the "vibrato" technique where your fretting finger rocks forwards and backwards (like cellist and violinists do) - this may help you keep in tune by orienting your ear to where the note is. Keep practising.
  3. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    I just bought a used Fender MIJ fretless Jazz. Is there a correct way to intonate this instrument? I can do it accurately on my fretted but not sure if my finger is in the correct position for fretless.

    Is it better to practice with CD's or other recordings to make sure that my pitch is correct?
  4. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    What are you amp settings like? If you have a lot of lows and not enough highs, things can get pretty muddy down in the lower registers that _could_ interefere with how well you can hear the pitches.

    Steve- I read somewhere that you should never have to intonate a fretless instrument, and your ear should be the guide. This is especially true on unlined boards. If you are still developing your ear, and have a lined board, you can intonate by using your fingernail, or some other utensil with a small surface area, and push down exactly on the fret line, and intonate from there.
  5. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    SuperDuck, thanks! I do have an unlined board.