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Tips on "mwah"?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Listen, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. Listen


    May 19, 2002
    How do I get more "mwah"? My MIM fretless has some, but not nearly enough. Please give some tips or hints or something. I want as much "mwah" as possible, I'm talking Jaco "mwah"!

  2. Well, I'd say to get closer to the Jaco sound, you can do a few things:

    1.) Be sure to use roundwound strings. I personally prefer nickel, but some like stainless.
    2.) Have your fingerboard coated with epoxy or something like that. This will help keep the board from being too badly damaged and change the sound significantly (in a good way, IMO).
    3.) Solo the bridge pickup. I'm pretty sure that's part of how Jaco got his sound.
    4.) Here's something that worked for me (thanks PD for the tip): Play up by the end of the neck instead of anchoring on the pickups. Granted, mine gets crazy mwah almost anywhere, but it's especially prevalent when I play up by the neck.

    Setup is really pretty important to getting good mwah out of a fretless. For the most part, I think you'll want your neck pretty straight and the action really low. That said, this thread may actually be more successful in "Setup" so hopefully one of the mods can move it. You may also want to try a search in the setup forum on this subject (in case you haven't already done so).

    Good luck!

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    One of the best ways to get good mwah is to bring your highs up with just the right amount of midrange and bass added and the key is to put a keen emphasis on vibrato from your fingertips.with this you can get good mwah from anywhere you play, not just from the bridge pickup.
  4. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    For more mwah, get a Zon. It's simple enough, just shell out the 2 or 3 thousand clams and you got enough mwah for yours and your childrens lifetimes.
  5. Listen


    May 19, 2002
    I took all of your suggestions and now I have some decent mwah! Except BigBohn:)
  6. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    On my fretless (Lull M4V), to get uber-Jaco-esque mwah:

    1. only use the bridge pickup
    2. roll the highs back just a bit
    3. boost the mid range at about 250Hz
    4. boost the bass tone control just a bit

  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You can get killer mwah on a $400 Cort Artisan fretless:)
  8. My Turser Ray clone gets some killer MWAH!

    It's all about the setup and the technique.
  9. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    That's all nice and gravy, Brad, but you know you'd take a Zon over a $400 Cort Artisan at this point in your bass career. Hey wait a sec, you DO have a Zon!
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You don't know how close I came to buying a Cort Artisan B4FL fretless "after" I had my Zon... it's that good. Another inexpensive fretless that blew me away was a $250 Carlo Robelli I played at Sam Ash a few years back. That sucker was sweet.

    I'll put it this way, if I was in my current financial position and was fretless-less I'd get the Cort until I could afford my Zon or Elrick... or maybe Brubaker (killer fretlesses);)
  11. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My Cort Curbow 5 fretless has a ridiculous amount of mwah. I'm sure the low action, straight neck, phenolic board, and roundwound strings have something to do with it.
  12. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Coming from you, those must be some good fretless basses right there. Might check them out since I would love to go fretless and have been for the past few months. I want to get it once and right with a Zon VI or a Roscoe 6er, but I feel that a car would be a wiser purchase for me at this point in time. A lesser-priced good-quality fretless would be a good compromise.

    Thanks, Brad. :)
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    No problem, BB... good luck.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    G Guitars put that bass on eBay recently. Someone got a new Brubaker for the same price as I paid for mine used (I got an excellent deal). This is as tough a market as I've seen. Figures... I just saw mortgage rates are at 6%:eek:

    I'm trying to make a decision soon as far as what to get. I know it'll be a K4B5 string but a fretless is very tempting. Then again I don't think I can justify keeping Brubaker, Elrick and Zon fretlesses. I'll probably just do a killer fretted 5 and then see what happens.
  15. And for us fledgling fretless players using low end gear, did I kill most of my mwah (assuming that's what I had in the first place:eek: ) by swapping the Yamaha rounds for TI Flats or was there really not any mwah there in the first place because I don't really know what I'm doing on a fretless (Yam. RBX270F).

    The TIs are fantastic IMHO but any mwah seemed to go.

    Mwah: I've tried to work out why it happens. I put it down to the crests of the roundwounds "banging" on the fingerboard as the string vibrates with a circular motion as that vibration decays. The harder the 'board the more pronounced the Mwah. Likewise, the more pronounced the circular motion is (plucking closer to the 'board) the more mwah there is.

    Just my idea of what might be happening.

  16. I agree with most of that- also that the more flexible and freer to vibrate the string is, the more mwah.

    but it is possible to get mwah out of flats- Steve Lawson uses Elites flats on his fretless Modulus 6.
    I think he also uses Thomastik strings on his Rick Turner Renaissance fretless 5.
    hopefully he'll spot this mention of his name and explain all.

  17. I used to have a Peavey fretless that quite a bit of Mwah to it. I think it was the Axcelerator series. Unfortunately I drove 2-3 milimeter deep valleys down the fingerboard within 6 months. Pau Ferro is not the hardest of woods, haha! A good coat of epoxy on your fingerboard will save you a lot of heartach later down the road if you go back to roundwounds.

    Now I have a Zon Sonus Special fretless. It has more Mwah then anything I've played so far. A lot of it is technique. Keeping a nice even amount of pressure on the string will allow the notes to "swell" better. Also, "fretting" the note slightly in advance to plucking the string helps. It's subtle techniques like that which give the note more time to annunciate itself.
  18. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    as if my magic, in a puff of smoke, steve appears... :oops:)

    Mwah - define it? what's going on? it's about the envelope of the note, the interaction between string and fingerboard and how that is picked up by the pickups.

    Any bass and any kind of string can give you Mwah - it's all about set-up. A good technician will set your bass up to give you the sound you're looking for. I wouldn't dream of putting round wounds on my fretless bass, that's so NOT my sound. There's plenty of tonal variation available with flats (and loads and loads of top end if you get good flats - my faves are Elites, GHS and TI, I've only ever used Elites on my fretless 6, and don't intend to get rid of them at all...)

    If you're in London, take your bass into the Gallery and get Martin Peterson to look at it. IMHO, there's no better setup/repair/modification tech around. And he's a supremely nice person! :oops:)

    In fact, I think I'll go in there today!


    www.steve-lawson.co.uk (about me)
    www.pillowmountainrecords.co.uk (buy CDs)
  19. Steve is right and you should be able to get good "Mwah" out of any string or bass with the right set up. The best mwah I've gotten from my Zon was from nylon filiment strings.
  20. Sinisa


    Aug 7, 2002
    Belgrade, Serbia

    I agree with Da5id HeX that you can get the mwah with plucking near the neck. Mwah is basically some sort of buzz equipped with vibrato that you produce with your fretting hand. Be sure to pick the string with the meaty part of you fingertip, not the nail or something. Keep the action reasonably low to get the buzz, but not too much, of course..

    I get pretty much mwah with my custom 160 $ (yeah don't laugh, i'll post some pics) 4 string with one piece (no separated fingerboard) Tali (Missanda) neck and D'Addario Chromes. Will post a MP3 clip soon.



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