playing fretless songs on a fretted bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Blunk, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002

    i could be mistaken but isn't Alive by Pearl Jam played on a fretless? it sounds to me like it is, he seems to _slide_ into the notes.

    my band are going to start covering that song and i'd like to play it as close to the original as possible, i'm having a bit of trouble sustaining the notes once i slide into them.

    i'll work on my technique but i was wondering if anyone has in tips or tricks for getting a "fretless sound" on a fretted bass, i've turned up my mid and my bass (setting, not the instrument) and lowered my treble a lot to give a "rounder" sound.

    any advice is greatly appreciated!

  2. your right, he does use a fretless... ahh... pearl jam... that takes me back. THe only thing you can really do without some narly effects (or a plyer and some wood to glue in the fret holes) is to work the volume up as you're sliding up and hitting the note... listen to the voicing and general sound of a fretless and just keep it in mind.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    "Alive." What a great song! Anyway, there are some effects pedals that have a so-called "fretless" effect, but I have never heard anything good about such effects or heard anyone say that they produce a credible fretless sound.

    Could you rent or borrow a fretless bass for that one song?
  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Intrigued by your question, I did a Google search and came up with a similar question that was posted at
    Thor answered the question and I believe Thor used to post here. He may STILL post here.

    Anyway, he said he read in Bass Player to mute strings with your palm and pluck with your thumb. Also boost the mids in your EQ.

    I believe you will need to experiment with Thor's advice, especially the EQ to see if you get a tone approaching that of a fretless.

    The other option is buy a about a cheaper used one? I know so many bassists who bought fretless basses, then gave up and sold them because they didn't enjoy them or use them as much as they thought they would.

    By the way, if you do find a satisfactory solution to your problem, please come back here and tell us what worked for you.
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I get the most fretless-ish sound with compression on the bridge pickup, and some reverb, and a little doubling or slap-echo. Chorus helps too.

    I just recently posted this in another thread, but I was going for a fretless-ish sound on this one:
    Psudo-sorta Fretless sound

  6. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002

    i've been tricking around with my bass to get the sound i'm after, i have a fender aerodyne jazz bass, i turned the neck pickup up to full, turn the tone knob down, raise my mid frequencies and took out the treble, added some extra compression, and my fender bassman amp has an "enhance" button (not sure what that does exactly) but so far i'm happy with how it sounds...its as close as i can get it!

    its only one song we do, and we're playing bars so noone's going to give me grief for not getting the tone long as people can sing along while they drink everyone's happy!

    but thank you all for your advice :)
  7. bassmentguy


    May 15, 2005
    There's a technique you can use, but you have to be very accurate, or else you will get some fret noise. Finger picking with your right hand, pluck closer to the twelfth fret( usually between the 14th and 18th fret).This will give you a nice woody sound and really bring out the sound of your bass and not it's electronics. With your left hand play directly on the fret, not behind it. The flesh of your finger will mute the string ever so slightly. Using these two techniques in combination right should give you a pretty convincing fretless sound. And if you have the option, try favoring your neck pickup as much as you can.

    Good luck,
  8. Texx


    Sep 10, 2004
    Chorus will definitlely help alot.
    Also you could bend the longer notes a little bit that will help you getting the MWAH of a fretless.
  9. Make sure your fretted bass is way out of tune. That'll get you 90% of the way to mimicing the sound of 90% of the fretless players out there.... :D

    Yes, I'm kidding.

  10. when my covers band plays "alive" I use chorus, and play more legato, over the neck pickup, making the most of the slides between notes.