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tips for someone swopping over to a fretless

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dolphin_wank, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. hiya, just got a fretless neck fitted to my old fender jazz today, having played fretted for about 4 years. this is my first fretless, only times i'd played em before was sheepishly in a shop for 5 minutes :meh:

    obviously it's gonna take me a while to get completely ajusted to it, as at the moment it sounds a bit like a cat with a big ball of tin foil up its arse (for some reason i thought YEAH I KNOW, I'LL GET THE ONE WITHOUT LINES! THATLL BE COOL!)

    but seriously, it doesn't sound that bad, but i definately need some time to ajust

    any tips on ajusting technique to fretless? i've started doing the old violin tremolo kinda thing, where you rub your finger back and forth really gently when i fret to get that mwahahah bizness, and i'm plucking near the bridge and stuff (like i normally do on fretted) i assume its the same for fretless? (really dont know, and dont have a teacher)

    any general tips appreciated

  2. It's good to know how to make use of a fretless's unique qualities, but spend some time trying to play it like a fretted bass too. When you can play it without anyone knowing it's a fretless, then you know you've got the hang of it.
  3. yeah man, but what are these unique qualities you speak of? and how can techniques be applied to exploit these qualities?

  4. One is the fretless slide but there aren't many applications in music for that and you can certainly annoy the hell out of everyone quickly with it. After you've enough sliding followed by a laughter and "hehe, it's cool", try to control it's speed. You can increase sound level during a slide, especially in the lower strings, depending on the slide's speed. The key is control and don't overdo it. One cool slide is a really fast slide, sliding up sounds better, making a whooshing sound. It's more percussive than melodic.

    There's the mwah thing. Work on your vibrato to control its speed according to the music. From a slow and mellow vibrato, usually down from the note, to a nervous, jerky vibrato.

    One thing you can do to control the slow vibrato is playing an open E, then playing an E on the G string. Then experiment with vibrato speed and amplitude by listening to the "wave" it makes. To practice this on the low strings, pluck an harmonic (say C# on the A string (4th fret)) and experiment the vibrato on the "root" note (in the exemple, an A on the E string (5th fret).

    Some notes mwah better than others. Find them on your neck by leaving the other string's harmonics resonate by sympathy.

    Some other cool things is replicating a guitar's whammy bar (it's the mwahhy bar :p ). It'll never sound the same but youcan find some cool effects by experimenting.

    But Lemur is right, try not to make it sound like a fretless. The cool effects of a fretless can easily be overdone. Big mwahs and slides have more impact when you don't expect them at every turn.

    And obviously, practice playing in tune. Play scales along a recorded fixed-tuned instrument, like a piano. Play the same note, then thirds and fifth.

    The coolest thing about fretless is the control you can have, but it can sound gimmicky, or just like a big mess.
  5. Alun


    Jun 6, 2004
    Endorsing Artist - Elixir strings,Markbass amplification
    As well as the points mentioned above, one thing I occasionally do (picked up from a Jaco interview I think) is to practice playing on the frets on your fretted bass rather than between them. This'll get you used to the precise fingering required for fretless playing.

    Playing into a tuner is also good if you really want to work on precision. The most important thing is to "hear in tune", not just visually make sure your finger is in the right place. Sounds obvious I know but it can be missed.

  6. Fretted bass should be played the same as fretless. It sounds better, cleaner and more in-tune (yes, on a fretted).
  7. yeah i'm a bit of a pitch geek coming from a family of musicians who forced me to learn to have relative pitch as a child so i can tell when i'm playing a note wrong, my fingers just haven't learnt the places well yet (i've only been playing it for like 3 days though!! so i'm gonna give it a good 6 months-year to get completely used to it)

    i no longer have a fretted bass tho, as this jazz is my only bass :crying: sold my crappy ibanez ages ago

    respect for your words Erick, exactly what i wanted to hear. i was doing that low e, then e on the G string thing you were on about whilst mucking about the other night, you can get some well weird effects with that. kinda like detuning oscilators on an analogue synth. good idea for practice tho, thanks
  8. Alun


    Jun 6, 2004
    Endorsing Artist - Elixir strings,Markbass amplification
    The point about your fingers learning where to go is a good one. Even if you had a lined board, you'd still find that the exact postition of a perfectly in tune note in relation to the marker will vary depending on where you are on the neck. It's just a matter of practice and muscle memory combined with your ears - and by the sound of it (no pun intended!) you're off to a good start with the relative pitch.

  9. :D

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