mastering fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    ok, maybe not mastering, but really getting it down. intonation, being creative, doing little tricks that sound great, cool weird noises, being able to play without having your eyes glued to the neck, etc.

    i had a fretless a while ago but rarely played it cuz it was crap. my new acoustic has got me obsessed though, but i'm not progressing as quickly as I'd like to. i landed a new gig that i could really use the bass on but i'm nowhere near confident enough yet. being consistently dead on key is actually what i'm having the most trouble with.

    any tips, ideas, exercises that will speed up the learning process??? thanks in advance.
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  3. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Just play it lots. And lots.

    When I first got my fretless, I made a decision to play/practice on it exclusively for a full week. I put the fretted away. Played all my normal practice exercises on it, scales, played with CD's, etc....

    Now, I split my practicing between fretted and fretless every other day. I play the same things I would normally play, I just alternate between the two.

    You just need to play it and play it and play it.

    And then play it some more.

    It will come. You'll be surprised how quickly you begin to get it.

    Also, remember when you're playing down low, it's harder to tell when your "dead on" (for you and for the audience). Gives you a little room for inaccuracies....

    It just takes time.

  4. Make yourself some midi files of the scales and licks you're practicing and practice along with those. That will really make any kind of intonation problems stick out even if they are a few cents off. If you don't have time to do that just always play with a tuner. You'll get it, it just takes time.
  5. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Make sure your bass is in tune, all the time. Check your intonation against the open strings. At first don't bother with vibrato(shake) or glissando(slide), just practice being right on pitch.

    Practice playing scales and melodies at a very slow speed and make sure your sound is good, and that you're in tune.

    good luck,
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Does urs have the dot inlays on the side of the neck?
  7. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I've found that the most solid way to get your playing in tune is to play with backing tracks and making sure you're in tune with that stuff. It's the closest thing to working with a live band or ensemble.

    Could be Music Minus One, Aebersold, Jam Tracks, or things you sequence yourself. Taping yourself is a great idea to check how you're doing, because the playback never lies.
  8. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Whilst there are a number of threads/arguments on this subject here and some members who are more qualified than myself on this subject (mainly Michael Manring whose intonation is stunningly accurate) here's my 2p...

    Play into a chromatic tuner, learn to here and see where the notes are in.

    I consider myself a tone deaf hack yet have won an argument with a keyboard player by putting the tuner to the keyboard amp and it had drifted by 0.5

    Your ear will develop to the point where you will offer guitarists a choice between a tuner or violence.

    The whole lines/unlined deal is basically the difference between seeing where your finger needs to be in relation to the line or the distance between two dots and imperfections/patterns in the wood.

    Live it love it.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Isn't it better to be able to play by ear and fit in with whatever else is going on - I mean you can hardly tell an acoustic pianist at a small Jazz club, that it's his problem and he's .5 cents out - you have to live with it and tune to the piano!! ;)
  10. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Off topic a little; I've been pondering getting a fretless for some time now. Would any one reccomend a lined one as opposed to a none lined one (sorry if theres topics, ill go search).

    Iplayed a none lined one in a shop a few months back and didnt have any real difficulties, then again it was on a small amp in a large room so I'm certain it'd have sounded not so great to any listeners.

    I've been (self taught) playing just over 2.5 years, I practice daily and have done since day 1.

    I'll keep an eye on this thread if I ever get one and practice the stuff put forward.
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    thanks for all the input guys. i've been jamming with 3 chord recordings, and playing against the open strings.

    a message of hope - just few weeks into obsessively playing this thing and my finger and hands are memorizing wut they're supposed to do. i'm always amazed by that for some reason. i believe its called kinestenic (sp?) memory. when your body repeats something thousands of times over it remembers it without having to think. that's how dancers dance so well. reminds me of learning to slap - couldn't do it worth a sh** but was persistent. slap, pluck, slap, pluck, at a snails pace - for hours on end, then woke up one day and i'm doin just about anything flea can do.

    i love the bass :bassist: .
  12. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    Its going to be 3 years of exclusively of FRETLESS playing/gig-ing/styding, 1-2 hours daily average!! Sure, confident enough to play anything... but try recording :eek: that's when u really hear the dancing around the note note blues.

    Achiving consistent in-tune notes on a frettles is next to imposible. The neck is so long that u have no acurate visual references (unlike the double bass).

    People like Manring or Willis have really sharp ears besides tons of hours of practice.

    There are many great bass players that never get to that tuning right, and there many other players that get with little effort.

  13. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Agreed but the situation was bass, guitar, flute and another keyboard at 440 and this keyboard at 440.5. If it don't bother you (and nobody else heard it) then that's ok, it was making me homocidal...
  14. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Play everyday for 1-3 hours.
    Play with your ears not your eyes.
    Good Luck
  15. elbass


    Aug 6, 2001
    San Antonio TX
    Practice getting your octaves and fifths in tune. When I feel my intonation needs some polishing up, I play octaves and fifths as double stops up and down the neck and try to make small adjustments to get the two notes in tune. Also, try to play with a relaxed left hand as much as possible. Part of the trick of playing in tune is to hear when you're out and be able to correct the note quickly. It's tough to do that if you're gripping the neck too hard.
  16. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Ok so I have lines, and I use them as visual references (I also use my ears, but for a starting point I use the lines). Does that make me a "bad" fretless player?


  17. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    Lines are good. Many top players have them. Jaco had them too! I like lines.
  18. Hahaha


    Sep 26, 2003
    Olympia, WA USA
    The electronics failed in my fretted the night before I left town on a three month road gig. I grabbed my fretless and left the fretted bass behind. At first my intonation was lousy, but after three months, six nights a week, I could play with my eyes closed and play quite well in tune. As others have pointed out, it's simply a matter of playing a lot, and paying close attention to your intonation. Eventually your physical memory takes over and your hands will naturally play in tune. If you don't play regularly, get a bass with lines. I've learned that if you don't keep at it, you'll lose your touch. The lines are real useful then, and unless your reading charts, who cares if you look at your hands.
  19. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I even look at my hands when I play my fretted...

    Though I do admit it makes sightreading a chart a real *itch



  20. i recently converted a ****ty old ibanez to fretless. I haven't had any problems with playing in key.

    I think maybe you should focus more with your technique while playing fretted. My teachers have always been particularly anal about playing right up on the frets. i found that it really payed off when trying my hand at fretless.



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