Slapping on Fretless?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by PinkTelephone, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. i played my friends fretless ibanez today and it was the first time i've ever played a fretless. I was really liking it but i went to go play get up and jump by the chili peppers, the slap tone on it sucked. He said he hadnt changed the strings on in a little while, so i wondering if slapping on fretless basses just sucks or it was just his bass with bad strings. Ive always wanted a fretless of my own but not if the slap tone on them sucks. thanks to anyone that replys :confused:
  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Now, let's put on our thinking caps. No frets=No slappy tone. There are no frets for the strings to make contact with. I've seen fretlesses slapped many times, and it sounded pretty good, but that's with a pod enhancing the dull fretless slap sound. Fretlesses aren't for slap, and in some cases, slap could damage it.
  3. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    I happen to like the tone of slapping on a fretless, but that is just me. I'm betting you would hate it with new strings too.
  4. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    i played a G & L 2000 with aguilar 2 band pre amp....Rotosound brites on a ebony board.....fattest slap tone ive ever herd.
  5. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    *cough* les claypool *cough, cough* ;)
  6. 'my name is mud' (among others) is slapped on a six string fretless

    edit - lyle, you beat me to it :)
  7. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    He has a zillion preamps :p
  8. Thee


    Feb 11, 2004
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Claypool slaps a fretless. It just seems muted. I wouldn't suggest it for straight ahead slapping tones like RHCP.

    Other than that, it's not bad, just different.
  9. LWatford


    Jul 28, 2001
    Helena, AL
    Lets not forget Bakithi Kumalo, his fretless is all over Paul Simon's Graceland album, slapped and otherwise. It's a different sound, not a bad sound, just different.
  10. IMHO fretless slapping isn't bad, it just might not fit in alot of places, same as a fretted. Just depends on what tone is needed... I hope that makes some sense
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    It depends on the player. If you can slap, you can slap on a fretless. It's the same mechanics. In fact, it's typically easier with the lower action that's easily attainable on some fretlesses.

    Fretlesses are for slap, if that's what you want to do with one. As far as dull tone...

    Common sense also applies. If you have dead strings on a fretted your sound will reflect that. If you have new roundwounds on a fretless, have a decent setup and use proper technique...

    you can do it.

    It can be as bright as any other bass. In fact I'd put my Brubaker and Zon fretlesses up against most fretted basses as far as slap tone... they both have a seriously punchy tone with killer lows, mids AND highs.

    You don't need anything special preamp-wise to slap a fretless. You don't even need an amp.

    Also IME it's quite possible to slap a fretless while causing negligible wear at the worst. Most people I know who focus on wear with fretlesses usually haven't figured out how not to cause it. It's actually pretty simple... and very possible. If you want to spend the time practicing it can be a non-issue for you too.

    You can slap pretty much as precisely on a fretless as a fretted. It takes practice. The added bonus is the flexibility of playing between the notes, IF you want to.

    Like just about anything else on a bass, you have to learn how to do it correctly. Like most things, most people don't and tend to shoot it down out of hand.


    You just have to try it with an open mind. Sometimes the defeatist attitude of some musicians just annoys me. If you don't want to spend the time, cool. Why try to discourage others? Ask yourself, did you really give it a fair shot? Honestly? It's something to bear in mind when offering "advice".

    A big part of becoming an accomplished musician is realizing that sometimes... the problem is "you". Period.

  12. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    brad as usual, you just took the words out of my mouth.

    IMO though I don't dig slapping period, unless its marcus doing it ;)
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I hate the slap sound out of my fretless, but that's because it's also got flats on it, and flats kill slap tone. Then again, I've got my fretted for all the weird/funky techniques like slapping, tapping, and chording.
  14. oversoul

    oversoul fretless by fate

    Feb 16, 2004
    you can always add a "slap plate" at the end of the neck, saw a benavente with this on their website.
  15. Michael Manring gets a fine slap tone on his fretless Zon.
    Of couse, he is one of the finest bass players on the planet.

    I wonder if going from flats to a brighter set of strings would help get a more classic slap tone?
  16. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    Seeing as though Manring, Claypool and Kumalo have all been mentioned, I'll throw in Pino Palladino. BTW, I saw Michael Manring live in Paris a few months back, and anyone who says that slapping can't be done on a fretless needs to check Manring out - his technique is amazing.

    For what it's worth, I like to slap, and I'm crap at fretless. But yeah, I can slap on a fretless. It just takes a bit of practise. I find it's a slightly different technique to fretted bass, I tend to soften my right hand approach with it. Popping is probably harder than slapping - a popped hammer-on doesn't have quite the same effect on fretless.
  17. red-hot-bassist


    Sep 18, 2001
    i often do a lil slap on my fretless i think u can achieve a very bright tone from it with new strings

    though i use roundwounds an am gunna need a new finger board soon methinks........ :bawl:
  18. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    Well said.
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Undoubtably. Too bad I like every other tone I get out of the TIs I have on now!

  20. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    It must have been when he was kissing you