Tips on teaching myself fretless?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by quadrogong, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. quadrogong


    Jul 6, 2006
    probably been asked a zillion times..
    Can I have some advice, pointers?
  2. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Just go for it and play easy melodies you definitely know (like movie themes from when you were a kid). That will get you playing well in tune.

    I used to obsessively tune trying to make sure the strings' relationships would reflect my muscle memory, but these days, the adjustments I make compensating for a slipped string has become a part of my playing.
  3. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    You dont need to know how to play fretless when your other thread is asking of Jaco's fretted songs! :D
  4. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    It helps to add a little vibrato to longer notes, similar to the way that violinists and cellists do. This will mask slight inaccuracies in your finger placement.
  5. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Just play the thing as much as you possibly can. No substitute for good, hard work.
  6. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    +1 to that too!
  7. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Plug into a tuner and check yourself constantly when starting. Practise your scales and intervals with an adjacent open string droning along so you can start training your ear to instatune. Play a lot of octaves and fifths up the neck so can get used to adjusting for different positions. Practise, practise, practise. ;)
  8. CDuff


    Sep 14, 2002
    This is all good.
    It always gives me a laugh when I read a post by somebody who's only been playing bass for a few months say that they picked up a fretless and had no problems playing in tune.
    You need to sharpen your ear as well as your fingers. Initially you'll think you're in tune, then your ear becomes more discerning and you realise your intonation isn't so hot after all you improve it.
    Playing with a tuner is a good excercise but you don't need to worry about it doing the work of your ear. Your ear will improve too.
    Good luck :)
  9. pseudoxh4


    Jul 26, 2006
    Great advice.
    There's tons of wisdom along these lines on Steve Bailey's Fretless Bass video (which I believe is out on DVD now).
    Also, dropping the fretted bass and sticking to the fretless for a while will definitely speed things along; play what you would usually play on the fretted bass on the fretless. This is what helped me get in tune fast (not to say that I'm perfectly in tune!).
  10. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    Just play, and keep a tuner on hand at all times to check yourself. Do it all (making sure you're ALWAYS in tune) and you'll be fine.
  11. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Practicing octaves will help tremendously, as will playing with a guitarist or pianist.
  12. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    First, learn to play in tune and AVOID vibrato. You don't want to mask inaccuracies in pitch, you want to be made miserable by them. Play arpeggios and stop at random points to check your accuracy. Play a riff and stop in the middle to compare a stopped note against an open string. Play along with a fixed-pitch instrument (keyboards are great for this). LISTEN to what you're playing. Record your practice then listen back to it with objective ears.

    You want your fretless playing to be so in-tune that people can't tell you're playing fretless. THEN and only then, does the fretless become part of your expression, instead of an expression of ineptitude. Listen to Freebo's playing on the first few Bonnie Raitt albums, especially stuff like "Girl, You've Been In Love Too Long" and my personal favorite "Too Long At The Fair".

  13. Toronto Bassist

    Toronto Bassist

    Jan 9, 2008
    You can try recording yourself on a fretted bass - scales, melodies, etc. - and then play it back and see if you can match it on fretless.

    Get some Aebersold books/CDs and play along with them. The Steve Bailey book/DVD is also good. Other than that, it really boils down to practice, practice, practice.