Should one learn fretless before Upright?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by degroove, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    I am an electric bass player who has never played fretless or upright, but is interested in eventually playing upright.

    I play mostly as a hobby, but do play in a band context with others (classic rock cover band now), but am taking jazz lessons.

    Would it be a good step between electric and upright to get a fretless? I was wondering if this would help with developing some basic skills such as intonation and playing without frets.

    From your experience, would you recommend this step?

  2. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    My opinion,'s a useless step. Go straight to the double bass and get a good teacher.
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I agree; oranges and apples. Play fretless if you want to learn it; otherwise, go straight to DB with a good teacher.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I tend to agree that it is not a good step - the difference in scale lengths is more likely to put you off than anything else...

    On the other hand, if you can get a 42" scale length EUB .....!!! ;)
  5. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    These are very interesting answers!!

    I thought it would help, but its good to hear that I won't.

    I do like the idea of a EUB due to its portability, but I will have to find a teacher who can show me the mechanics of URB playing.

    I will have to save forever to get one, so I might was well start now and learn as much as I can about it. That way, picking one out won't be so mysterious.

    Any other comments/opinions?
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the EUB has helped me think and play more like a DB player in Jazz - I can get a much more appropriate sound and swing! The thickness and length of the real DB strings I have on it, mean that it is more of a phsysical effort to move them and get about - so you have to think more like a DB player - I also think it helps the bounce and swing of walking lines in Jazz.

    Whereas I have played fretless BG and this did quite the opposite - tendency to overplay in Jazz and to go for the sort of "mwah" in the higher register, that is virtually impossible on DB - too tempting!! ;)

    Teacher is your best idea though - get a good one and ask for advice.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Sez you! ;)
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    You beat me to it, Pac...
  9. kempe


    Aug 26, 2003
    Get a good teacher, DB is not an instrument you learn by yourself I think...
  10. Um - I'm not quite sure exactly what you're saying here. I agree with you re. getting a good teacher, but what exactly did you think was "virtually impossible on the DB..."?

    Have you taken a listen to Brian Bromberg's CD "Wood"? (check out "The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers", or "Come Together") - I'm sure I must have inadvertently misunderstood what you meant in your post...


    - Wil
  11. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    You shouldn't learn it, but if you find have a fretless with flatwound strings, it's suitable to help build up callouses before you get a DB. That's what I did with my thumb while I was waiting for mine.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - I have had many discussions around here on the differences between EUB and DB and one the things that everybody has agreed before, is that EUBs sound too much like fretless BG on the G string in the upper range - so if you pluck a DB high up on the G string there is quite a short decay - whereas on fretless bass guitar you get uniform sustain - which is very unlike DB.

    So - when I bought my EUB it had a fairly low action and the strings on it were such that the G string sounded more like Jaco playing fretless BG than anything else. But since I raised the action and bought 'proper' ( ;) ) Pirastro DB strings, it sounds more like what I hear from DBs every week at the Jazz club. :)

    So what I meant is that the sort of uniform sustain that you get all acroos the board on BG is quiet unnatural to DB and is one of the things that often gives away EUBs as it is not possible for a DB to be like that - one of the main characteristics of an acoustic instrument is the way sustain of the notes (and overall acoustic envelope) varies across the range - same with pianos.
  13. Steve Carr

    Steve Carr

    Jun 25, 2003
    I play a Christopher hybrid URB that I bought a couple of months ago. I'm gettin' there and I should be doing recording sessions before long. (I'm a pretty quick study.) I also play a Warwick 5 string EB and a Fender "P" bass fretless. I have a DEEP passion for all three.

    There's peace in the pocket!