Not convinced with my fretless tone

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Nov 24, 2004.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    Since I started playing fretless bass like three years ago, I haven't been convinced with my tone. I mean, I can't hear enough of that typical mwah so prominent in most famous fretless recordings. Maybe it's not a technique but a setup problem, maybe it's the bass or maybe the tone is OK but I'm not happy with it, so I want you to see and give me opinions. The link below will allow you to download a video (5.7 MB - 34 secs.) of a gig that I played two weeks ago and there's a short fretless solo (it's a very famous tune, BTW). I hope it is enough for you to judge. Not so good sound, but clear, I think. The file will be available for the next seven days.

    Thank you in advance.


    P.S.: Please excuse the out-of-tune notes! :rolleyes:
  2. Can't really hear it too much, so I'd really just need a better sample before making any sort of judgment. Sounds pretty good to me, though.
  3. Pink

    I like your's nice:)
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    You're right, man. And thank you! :)
  5. Dr. Funk

    Dr. Funk

    Oct 10, 2001
    That was pretty cool. Seems like you were tapping and I think you would need to dig in with more of a plucking technique to get some mwah. I like your style, you sound really good.
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Thank you so much, Dr. Funk. About that, I have a question: To me, the word "plucking" is synonym of regular fingerstyle playing. Am I wrong? Maybe it implies something else like playing harder than normal or picking the string in a special way? In my fretted bass, I normally play over the bridge pickup, because I feel it gives a more percussive tone and I like it (I think I play hard, BTW). I don't know if I'm right, but I feel that that approach doesn't work to get the real fretless sound, so I play over the end of the fingerboard, but it's difficult to play hard in that area because the string has less tension there and also because of the little space between the string and the fingerboard, so the finger can't really dig into it. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thank you again!
  7. Usually when I hear a great fretless player,they are laying back on the beat alot and sliding into the note,rather than just "plucking" the notes...and don't forget lots of vibrato! :D
  8. Dr. Funk

    Dr. Funk

    Oct 10, 2001
    You are correct about the plucking technique. I pluck my frettless just in front of the bridge pickup, that is where I find the best string tension and the best tone. I like what Chrismmc said about the vibrato, that will really add to the mwah sound. But you already have good tone so just keep playing around with different methods and I'm sure you will find what your after.
  9. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    Fretless tone is a very personal thing, different players like different things. I get the typical "mwah" tone by playing very close to the neck and I also have my action as low as it will go without buzzing. I also use a fair amount of vibrato when holding notes, I try to match my vibrato to other things that are going on in the music (vocals, horns etc).
  10. I was getting good results last night with really low action and very little relief in the neck. Playing really lightly helped. I had to use compression, because I didn't want to risk blasting myself if I slapped without thinking (would I really be slapping if I thought first?).
  11. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I've never played a fretless, but I've listened to a lot of recorded fretless playing and really like it.

    I want to respond to the suggestion that several posters have made regarding vibrato.

    I believe that a unique characteristic of the fretless is its ability to give that great woody vibrato sound when the player employs longitudinal vibrato with his fretting hand on long notes (I think that's how it's usually done).

    However, it's my feeling that this can be overdone. A player probably should only use finger vibrato periodically - not on every note that's longer than a quarter note.

    To me, it seems more special when it's done only once in a while. Also, I think some players with less-than-solid intonation sometimes overuse finger vibrato to cover up their intonation inaccuracy.

    Just one fretted player's feeling about it.
  12. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000

    Good observation, employing a bit of musical taste goes a long way.