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my 1st real gig on fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    -please feel free to bump me to the proper forum as i'm clueless on this one.

    played a fairly challenging, 3 set gig on my fretless acoustic for the 1st time last nite and wanted to share the experience. :D

    it was the most NERVE wracking gig i think i ever played. it's me and my guitarist backing a super talented belgian singer www.thebelgiansinger.com and when she does 3 set shows we're usually doing a handful of songs we've never played together. i can't believe the way they handle all this... i can't believe i survived. it's almost comical, somehow we got through it.

    if i tell all details it'll be a really long boring post. main things i want to share. i feel really liberated, really happy that i pushed my comfort zone. i wasn't entirely ready to do this (the fretless thing) yet said f**k it! the best way to learn something is to just do it. i'm glad (i think) i did, BUT i have some questions for the vets on fretless....

    i felt trapped. my eyes were glued to the neck for 80% of the show. i hardly ever look at the neck on my fretted basses. this is important to me as i like to make eye contact with people in performances. will this change???? does it get better.

    what's up with reading and playing at the same time. i was reading simple charts in huge black magic marker while trying to know where i was on the neck.... not easy, not fun.

    my stress/fear level was on high throughout the entire gig. how long till one gets over that.

    i want to keep doing this, but the fretless sucked a lot of the fun out of the gig. it made it 75% harder than if i used my fretted.

    any thoughts, any recommendations, inspiration, words of hope, wisdom, anyone wanna buy me a bongo bass yet?????
  2. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I know how you feel, Joe. I have only been playing fretless for a few years, and I am far from being a Black Belt.

    One of things that helps me is that I have a fretless version of a bass that I am used to (Warwick Corvette). So, both basses have a similar feel and scale, except for frets.

    Other than that, I'm still learning like you are. The only inspiration, recommendation, or wisdom I can transmit is an obvious one - Practice makes perfect. The results will bring you joy. I love the sound of a fretless, so I keep on keeping on. In the words of Joe Dirt, "You can't have NO in your heart, Life's a Garden - Dig it"

    As far as the Bongo is concerned, here's a link to a non-profit group that offer grants to musicians seeking to create original music. Click here to check it out
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Relax, relax, relax. Did I say relax? :D Seriously though, trust your ability to play and be okay with the mistakes that you will make. Look at your neck only when you have to i.e. when you need to make big shifts. The other thing to do is to practice the tunes on your bass without looking at your hands. Practice as much as you have to inorder to feel comfortable playing without looking. It takes time for you muscle memory and your sense of where notes are on your neck to really sink in. You should be able to shift in half step or whole step intervals and know where you are i.e. what not each finger is on and each note that's in the neighborhood of your finger.
  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I did the same thing last year...after practicing fretless for 3 months, started gigging with an acoustic band - singer/guitarist and me...no drums or anything else. As you said, first gig or two were tough, but as I kept practicing the material, I was able to have fun, look around and stay in tune (most of the time!)

    It really boils down to practicing a lot without looking at the neck.
  5. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    Joe don't give up.
    I have played fretless for 20-years.
    give yourself a time limit, say 1-year.
    See how your playing has progrested.
    It takes time.
    after 3-years, I rarely took a fretted bass
    with me to gig.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    thanks guys. i played my second show with her last night and already it started seeming slightly easier. that may have been due to the fact that i was squashed in a corner where i couldn't see anyone and nobody could see me though. :) my eyes were fairly glued to the neck again, but it didn't matter. i'm going to start practicing more without looking, practicing in the dark, and taking more and more chances on these gigs

    little funny thing i forgot to mention. on monday there was a point where she gave me some space to solo :eek: . there was just me and the guitar and i had little idea what i was doing, as i was sweating and going off of the charts. i burbled, gurbled, mwhaed - and somehow got back to just playing the roots for 4 measure and she had to go and kill me with one of those "ladies and gentlemen, mr. joe baldizzone on bass guitar". it's sooooooooooooooooo freaking hard to nod, smile, and acknowledge applause when you know you haven't a clue what you just did, and know know further that whatever it was was really bad. i take these things now as practice and experience in faking it bigtime. if you act as though you're great, people will think it - more often than not. :D the musicians are usually the only ones who know you're falling all over yourself.
  7. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    I had my frets pulled from my bass and played a gig the same night! It's great to work on songs you know, so you can work on intonation rather than the notes. As far as reading goes, it gets easier; I played a gig recently reading some challenging material (Jekyll and Hyde show)on 5-string fretless. The trick is to get a combination of good physical kinetic memory together with ears on the intonation.
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Whenever someone throws a solo at me, I do the bass solo to Terrier Song by Kids in the Hall.

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