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Thoughts on cheating intonation on a lined fretless.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by edpal, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    I've seen people say they have a lined fretless and they just cheated the intonation so that playing between the frets was ok. Constructive thoughts on that - not trolling comments of "go lineless."
  2. Blake Bass

    Blake Bass Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    Montgomery, Texas
    Playing on the fret line is not even 100% guaranteed to be in tune, but playing in between the lines will pretty much guarantee that you're playing out of tune.
  3. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    One guy on tb watches his pedal tuner, how's that? Who cares, just get the job done and ftw.
  4. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    I've recently taken up double bass after a career of fretted electric. I want to play in tune, and have had no qualms about putting a couple of little marker stickers at the 5th and at the octave. It's not going to stop me from building up muscle memory of those points on the finger board; at some point I won't need them. But for now they're real useful.

    At any rate, you'll figure out what works for you. I just encourage you to make your own choice, rather than getting caught up in what anyone else says is right or wrong.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Bad idea. If you set it so the correct intonation is achieved half way between the 11th and 12 fret position, that doesn't mean it will be right half way between the 1st and second fret. In fact to be in tune you will still need to be pretty close to the first fret position. It will back off more and more from the fret position the further up the neck you go. Pretty confusing I would say.
  6. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006

    It's not like doing it will allow you to play anywhere between the line, you'll need to play at a PARTICULAR point in between the lines - and at a point that differs from fret to fret.

    At that point you have none of the benefits of a lined fretless and none of the perceived glamour of an unlined. Don't see the point.
  7. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    The key to playing in tune is to place your finger directly behind the fret line so that the string hits on the fret line. As others have stated, any adjustment you make at the bridge isn't going to be consistent across the length of the neck. Learn where to put your finger, and you'll never have any problems staying in tune.

    I'm so glad my first bass teacher taught me to fret directly behind the fret. When I started playing fretless, there was no adjustment in technique needed.
  8. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Same for me. I practically fret ON the fret, so close behind i was.
  9. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    There's really no practical reason to do this. The goal is to learn how to play in tune. The lines are there to help you do this. They are not perfect but they provide immediate visual feedback that will keep you playing more notes in tune. Playing more notes in tune is critical to train your ears and develop muscle memory in your hands so that eventually you won't be looking at the fingerboard at all, at which point the lines become irrelevant.

    So just play on top of the lines and practice, practice, practice.
  10. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    Well, if you play right on top of them, you're going to be sharp (unless you have thin blade-like fingers) because the meat of your fingers is going press the string down slightly in front of the fret line.
  11. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    the only " cheating " intonation is "dial in" time , if it takes to long , consider yourself "caught" .
    Intonate your bass , then play octaves with one open string and use your ear for finger placement. At first you may need a slow vibrato [on single notes]to give yourself a nano second of "dial in" time. Eventually after some practice , your dial in time will be shorter and when there's no dial in time , you're the king of the world. :)
    good luck
  12. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    I play primarily fretless, and I'm hard pressed to understand what the advantage and reason for doing this would be. :confused:
  13. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Please tell me you're kidding.
  14. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    Gentlemen, this ws a theoretical - I started on upright bass 31 years ago. Thanks for the thoughts.
  15. rocmonster


    Oct 31, 2011
    One way I found that helps me is to not even look at the fingerboard when I practise playing fretless. I close my eyes and focus on the tone and pitch. It's a great way to connect your ear to your hand and build up the correct muscle memory that testing1two mentioned. After awhile, I find it liberating to just 'play' without looking at the fingerboard, and get lost in the emotional component of playing bass, which I love.
  16. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    That said, since you've played for so many years, I'd say that shifting the intonation on a fretless bass this way makes as much sense as moving the bridge on your upright to shift intonation.
  17. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    I agree with those who have said this is a bad idea. For one thing, you can't intonate so that the entire area between the fret lines is in tune. There is still going to be be one spot between the frets where you are in tune, and the remainder of the area between the fret lines will not be in tune, so I don't see that there is any advantage to doing this rather than properly intonating. Second, the open strings would be out of tune compared to the intonated spots between the fret lines.
  18. JamesGoodall


    Aug 29, 2011
    Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't that how you intonate an upright?
  19. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Lines are doofy. Mine has little dots on the side of the neck like the standard config you'd see on any guitar. This is more than enough visual information. For people thinking about transitioning to fretless, you will discover that the whole lined/unlined issue is a very superficial concern after about six months of sticking with it. You're going to have major tone production issues at first anyway. Lines or not, you will be "getting there" w/ your intonation forever.

    When I play a fretted or lined bass, sometimes it's like "Gee, all these frets. Which one?" So maybe too much visual for me?
  20. rupture

    rupture Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2012
    Are lines even useful on a fretless ? Kinda like fret markers on the board . I can't even see the dots on my board