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The Fretless Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jimbo, May 26, 2001.

  1. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm interested in buying a fretless bass. I've played them i love the sound. But i have some questions about playing them. I know that you gotta place your're finger where the fret line would be, but is there anything else special i have to do? I'd appreiciate any help.
  2. Learn to do your vibrato in the string direction instead of the fret direction. Otherwise you'll tear your fretboard up pretty quickly.

    - Dave
  3. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    An important thing, listen to what you're doing. Listen carefully. It's very easy to lose track of the pitch if you don't have a very good hearing and/or compare to the open strings now and then... Especially if you play high up the neck, or on an unlined fretless, or on an improperly intonated lined one. You're likely to think it sounds pretty good when you play all by yourself, but when you play it in a band, chances are that you will sound out of tune the whole time... not a pleasing experience.
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Advice and tips for fretless aren't much use, as intonation requires practise and experience more than anything else. Nevertheless: keep your thumb on the fat part of the neck, if you're not doing that already, and arch your fingers. Intonation suffers if you've got your left hand wrapped around the neck and your fingers mushed on the fingerboard.

    If you have trouble with intonation in lower registers, it might help to adopt upright Simandl fingerings, ie. eliminate use of your ring finger, so that index, middle and pinky alone are responsible for fingering over a three "fret" span.

    David's suggestion for learning rolling fingertip vibrato is a good one. Don't overuse it, though...

    As an exercise for position shifts, try playing the same note with one finger, then shifting and playing the same note with another finger, eg. D on the G string, first with the pinky, then shifting up to play it with the index.
  5. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    how do you do that?
  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Like Dave said - move your "vibrato finger" back and forth (string direction) instead of up and down (fret direction). The desired effect comes only when doing it on fretless instruments.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No, man. I use it on fretted, too. It's a classical guitar vibrato. The idea is to (when rolling towards the bridge stretch the part of the string from the nut to your finger, reducing tension on the part of the string between your finger and the bridge (the part that's ringing) and when rolling away from the bridge to stretch the part of the string that's ringing. The result is a vibrato that goes around/i] the pitch, instead of only sharp of the pitch, which is the case with the side - to - side technique.
  8. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Oh my! :eek: You're perfectly right, Jon. I've never even tried it on fretted instruments, but I did as soon as I read your post. Goes to show that it's not only doable, it also sounds much prettier than the up/down vibrato (to my ears). Well, you learn something new every day! :D

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