Slapping a Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bass_drum, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. bass_drum


    Feb 13, 2005
    Hey guys! I'm looking into fretless basses, and I'm wodnering how they sound when slapped. Does anyone have any recordings? Also, how do u get a slap bar (if thats is what they are called) and how do they sound with those on?
  2. slowburnaz


    Mar 27, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Listen to some Primus recordings... maybe Pork Soda, Tales from the Punchbowl, that era.
  3. avenger86


    Dec 23, 2004
    Tommy the Cat...need I say more?
    If I am correct, I believe you have to have a 24th fret installed or something along that line to actually get a "pop" sound
  4. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Listen to Pork Soda and Sailing the Seas of Cheese by Primus for some fretless slapping. I'm pretty sure he uses it on Tales From the Punchbowl too.

    I agree with putting in a 24th fret.
  5. ZonMaster


    Jun 18, 2004
    maybe Kansas
    Les certainly has created "his" sound. But, I've weaned myself off of frets almost entirely lately. My comfort and preference for going fretless has spilled into my slapping game. The Zon is fairly bright to begin with, and other than string spacing on the five it is setup beautifully for slapping. Some practice and you end up with very articulate sounds. It's very un-Primus actually.

    I don't have experience with any thick & woody fretless basses. Perhaps the tone is much more difficult to dial in. Then again, perhaps not. My two cents.
  6. I have a f-less that has a diamondkote/epoxy finish on the fretboard and it sounds really great when slapped. The hard finish on the fretboard gives it that "snap." I also have a fretless that doesn't have a finished fretboard, its pure wood, and it definitely lacks the high-end "snap" that the epoxied board has, the unfinished board has a woodier, darker tone, and way more growl. I love both basses for different reasons. Hope this helps.
  7. I love slapping my fretless, it is loaded with EMG humbuckers and has a very, very hard timber for the fingerboard so I can get some pretty wild sounds from it, not quite the snap that you get with frets but easily cool enough to stand on its own
  8. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Check out "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon.
  9. +1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the bass playing on that album is some of the best I've ever heard. Some of those african bassists are out of this world.
  10. Phalanx


    Apr 4, 2005
    I heard somewhere that slapping on a fretless can damage the neck, is this actually true?
  11. Yes you can most certainly damage the end of the fingerboard by slapping. I'd recommend a slap bar of some sort.

    I'm not a huge fan of slap on a fretless. To me, slap needs to have that zing that you can only get from metal on metal. I almost never slap on my fretless. Then again, I hardly ever slap on my Jazz either, but it doesn't exactly have what I consider to be a good slap tone. Maybe it's just the fact that I suck at slap! Oh well...

    Anyways, I don't know of anyone who makes a slap bar, and I've never played on a bass that had one, but I think there's a few ways you could make it. One way would be to use some angle iron and file it down to the radius of your fingerboard. Then just position it directly behind the neck. You could also install one fret and file it WAY down to get that sound. I know on my fretless, if I installed a full fret at the 21st position (end of my board), it would make pretty much all notes above the octave useless because of the way my action is set. Not something I'm willing to sacrifice for some slap sound.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Just playing your fretless will damage the fingerboard, over time. If you play with a light touch, it will be years before you have to worry about redressing the fingerboard.

    Of course, if you get something with a rockwood/phenowood/diamondwood fingerboard (Zon, Roscoe, Curbow) the fingerboard will last for many years, even if you slap a lot. I play a Zon fretless, and slap it a lot. It has some scratches on the fingerboard, but no grooves. And I usually use stainless steels strings, too.