1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Practicing Fretless Bass Intonation

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 4OnTheFloor, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. I just got a Warwick Thumb BO4 fretless in a trade for my fretted one. So far I really dig the tone and trying to properly intonate. I have set up the saddles to intonate at the dots so now trying to get my ear up to snuff. Here is how I'm practicing:
    Keyboard - M9(looper) - amp
    Fretless - Amp
    I play a scale or passage an the piano then double it on fretless.


    How did you practice when you first got into fretless? I am looking for tips/suggestions to make sure I'm not wasting my time. Speaking of which, back to practice.
  2. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Play with music. Listen. Use consistent fingering technique.
  3. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    I have Finale Notepad. I put scales and things in there, then play along with it. I made up an exercise that I posted in another fretless thread that I work on as one of my normal warm up exercises.

    Here is a ZIP file that has my exercise in DMajor against a D drone. In the Zip file is a PDF of the notation, MP3 at I think 90BPM, a midi file, a finale file and a Garageband file.


    I just put this together from memory and haven't actually played it, so I hope there are no mistakes.

    I used a String Bass sound because I find that when I am working on my intonation, that is easier to hear.

    navijaz likes this.
  4. Burwabit

    Burwabit Likes guitars that tune good and firm feelin women Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2011
    Lubbock, TX
    curious about this too. youtube had some stuff of course. subscribed to see thoughts.
  5. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    play with your ears not your fingers

    you can get a convincing fretted bass sound out of a fretless but you can't the other way around

    play stuff you know where it's one position and play tight without thinking 'fretless' at all, just play the tune without any gliss or slides

    it only takes 20 or 30 hrs to get comfortable

    if you play FL exclusively for a while, when you go back you'll HATE the speed bumps
  6. I practice with a tuner going. Figure out how far off the side dot each note is and then just build muscle memory.

    The problem with playing along with music, is that the recordings (especially off the internet) are often off-key a little. So you end up learning wrong....
    nofretsplz, tlc1976 and MalcolmAmos like this.
  7. Nice, wow thanks guys. Especially Kirk for the exercise. This is all good info, keep it coming, thanks.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  8. navijaz


    Sep 20, 2016
    I know this is an old thread... Just wanted to say thanks for the great exercise!
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  9. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    I keep my fretless on the guitar stand in my music room so it gets played much more than my other basses. I play along to music on my stereo.
    monsterthompson likes this.
  10. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Subscribing. I'm just starting fretless. I enjoyed it so much with my "test" bass with a lined fretboard, that I went big and got a very nice fretless and it has no lines at all (still in shipping). I'm correctly training myself playing to familiar songs and trying not to look at my fingers.
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  11. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    Glad you liked it. I was remembering this exercise the other day and tried to find my files and couldn't. Forgot that I posted here. Need to work through this again. :)

    I have a half of a dozen of these types of exercises. Mostly I have borrowed/stolen an idea or exercise from someone else and made it my own. Maybe I out to do some more of them up. Didn't get much feedback originally from this so didn't think anybody was interested in new exercises from my perspective. Have to think about it.

    Have a great weekend.

    navijaz likes this.
  12. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    I've owned two fretless basses.
    Wasn't feeling it with the first one, so it was traded a few years ago. It had a lined neck.

    I started to get the itch for one again, so I just recently assembled this one with a lefty un-lined neck.
    I'm enjoying my time with it this time around. The
    LaBella tapewounds seem to make the difference for me.

    image. image.
  13. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    What is up with the lined vs unlined thing? Are you playing music or going for style points? Been playing FL for 45 yrs and don't give a crap whether lined or not. But, on a dark hard to hear stage I'll take lined every time.
    Jeff Bonny and navijaz like this.
  14. navijaz


    Sep 20, 2016
    I'd be interested if you'd like to share them but don't worry if it's too much trouble. The exercise you shared is already enough for weeks of practice and it is great that it can be easily transposed :thumbsup:
    kirkdickinson likes this.
  15. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Yes. 100% style. My unlined purchase is definitely a coffee table bit of art. It will never leave the house. I always play sitting down. I absolutely bought it because of the look, and for the challenge as a learning tool to benefit my fretted playing.
  16. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    Interesting motivations. Not sure about the benefits to fretted playing since the targets are different but, okay.
  17. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    I've only been playing fretless for a few weeks, and the benefits are noticeable. I play more creatively on the fretless, as I explore how to get around. The mistakes factor in and benefit in the end. My position and phrasing choices are changing, which carries over to the fretted. I'm listening to the subtleties of being slightly off the mark, versus right on it, and figuring out how to correct when I miss a note. It's a very different learning experiment and focus experience.
  18. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    No, more power to you! I am a BIG believer in FL. I have 16 basses - 15 of which are FL + 3 DBs. It is a much more expressive instrument.
    fly agaric and monsterthompson like this.
  19. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Believe me. I'm scared as hell about this unlined thing. I bought online, relying on the fact that it's a Spector and I have greatly enjoyed my fretted Spectors. I found myself spending lots of time on my newly purchased lined fretless, which is why I decided to buy a "nicer" fretless (may as well practice in luxury, if you can afford it), and the unlined factor on this one was almost a deal breaker for a minute. I decided the risk factor was going to make things really interesting, in a good way. I'll let you know how it goes when it arrives in a week. I may have made a terrible choice :)
  20. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I've had quite a few fretless basses over the years including two right now one lined, one unlined (and a DB). After a while it doesn't make any real difference....as @pnchad said you play with your ears not your eyes. My definite preference though is unlined with just side dots right on the note at 3-5-7-9-12 etc. Once you get past the basic beginner fear of taking your eyes off the neck minimal markings are MUCH more useful for the occasional sighting glance. A whole bunch of dots and lines just confuse things.

    I'd recommend developing some large interval jump exercises to do without looking. It's difficult but you want to start feeling where the sound not seeing it...kinda like you do singing. Feeling it is a much less conscious act whereas seeing it is a very conscious thing and will tend to disconnect you a great deal from your ability to hear. Since hearing is the primary sense used in making music anything that distracts from it is not to be relied on.

Share This Page