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Steve & Michael - intonation in a live setting

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Si-bob, Sep 10, 2002.


  1. hey guys
    lately i'v been brushing up on my fretless 'skillz' and will probly be gigging with it for the first time pretty soon, my question is, in a live setting where theres a fair bit of volume being thrown about, how do you keep the finer points of your intonation in check?
    i kno that you'v both got it down now, but there must have been a time when you felt you had to listen for mistakes on stage :)

    cheers
    *Si*
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Si,

    there are a few salient things here - I use as many senses as I can - sight (lines) sound (pitch), touch (muscle memory), heck, I'd make a scratch and sniff neck if it'd make it easier... :oops:)

    Here are the 'rules'

    1) practice everything slowly
    2) record yourself.
    3) if when you're recording, you hear where you are out of tune, go back to that part of the tune, and see if it's a stretch that you're not doing properly - you'll probably find that you're just playing what feels natural, but not allowing for the change in fret distance along the neck...
    4) don't spend your practice time learning how to correct bad pitch. Spend it practicing getting it right - I've had students who get the second half of every note right, but the first half is always out. Reason: they always practiced correcting by ear, not training their muscles to get it right in the first place.
    5)if at all possible, pivot your thumb rather than stretch.
    6)play slowly (repeated for effect)
    7)check your tuning regularly - no reason to make life hard for yourself.
    8)record a line on fretted bass (slowly) - play along with it on fretless, how close are you?

    Perhaps a lesson or two would help as well... :)

    hope that lot gets you started...

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  3. i am currently taking lessons, but they're more about technique and theory rather then fretless'ness :p (all he brings is his thumb 6 fretted )
    thanks for the pointers though, my fretless doesn't currnetly have lines on it, so its basically trial by fire :)

    *Si*
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    >>my fretless doesn't currnetly have lines on it, so its basically trial by <<

    ...rather you than me... :eek:

    Steve
     
  5. it might just be me, but im pretty sure a bass teacher should have postition markers on the bass he is using, and unless its a very early warwick, or a special order, it has none. Thats just weird.
     
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    well, I wouldn't say it was 'weird' as such, but it does help to have position markers. If the teacher's good, it's infinitely better to have a teacher who can teach but has no markers, than a putz who has the letters written on his fingerboard... :D

    All it takes is to lean forward a little to allow the student to see the top of the fingerboard to see those dot markers...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  7. I think his wariwck is fairly old (comparitivly) i think it might be like late 80's early 90's, fretted thumb thru-neck 6, warwick gave it to him......i hate him :). My bass (5'er fretted) doesn't have fret dots either so i'm kinda used to following without them, its not as if i'm a beginner either.

    heres a pic of my fretless

    *Si*

    p.s.
    theres no stickers on it anymore :)
     
  8. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Steve brings up a very important point about playing fretless: You need to be able to be reasonably certain that you are going to be able to play a note in tune before you play it. If you play a note out of tune then correct it by ear, it's going to be noticeable to your audience. Like Steve, I recommend doing whatever you can to develop this skill. In a loud live situation this is especially critical because monitoring is usually less than ideal, to say the least!
     
  9. thanks for replying guys, your advice is really appreciated. I'v noticed that while i do have a decent idea of where the note is, because there are no lines i'v found myself correcting the second half of the note (as u described).
    i'm workin on getting a 5'er fretless with lines now (my preferred string number :) )
    tnx again

    *Si*