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Why Fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by just_a_poser, Jul 10, 2002.

  1. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    I don't know much about bass. In fact, while browsing these forums I'll reading about setting intonation or lower the action and not really know what they'll be talking about. I could probably just search to find out, but I guess I'm just horribly lazy. ::shrugs:: Anyway, I always see people talk about their fretless, and it sounds like they sound so much better or are capable of more than a fretted bass. Now, the only bass I own is a pretty generic Crate that I got in a pack to start learning on, so I don't know a whole lot about different kinds of basses. So my main question here is, what kind of things could I do on a fretless that I couldn't do on a fretted. Now, I don't know if I'd ever play on a fretless, being as about all the kids I know would be more interested in starting a rock band than a jazz band, and I'd just assume fretless isn't really for punk-y music. Although I didn't just pick up bass to play for a little while and give up on. It's something I'd like to do my whole life, and experiment with a lot of different kinds of things. And so I figured if I didn't know about something now, why not ask some people who have been playing for a while. :)
  2. trane


    Jun 3, 2002
    Tokyo, Japan

    The primary difference, from a listener's standpoint, is that a fretless can offer a considerably different texture than a fretted instrument. By now you may have read about the term "mwah" with regard to fretless instruments. It's a way of describing the decay of a note, and this mwah is affected by setup, string-gauge and fingering technique.

    Other differences are subtle yet unmistakably fretless in nature. A smooth slide from note to note with no sudden half-tone transitions, for example, is one mark of a fretless instrument.

    One thing is that technique can definitely make a fretless bass sound very similar to a fretted bass, while the same cannot be said of the reverse. You can get thump out of a fretless, but you won't be getting any mwah out of a fretted bass.

    You're probably right that a fretless isn't going to work well for punk. That said, there are plenty of guys who've cut tracks in rock, blues and even metal with fretless basses.

    For what it's worth, I play classic rock, blues, funk and jazz all on my fretless. I have a fretted bass still, but I only carry it along to gigs as a back-up.
  3. Stupidnick


    Mar 22, 2002
    ...my room...
    imo man.. theres one thing you can do on fretless you cant do on a fretted..... lol have more fun.. fretless is sooooo much fun.. =D
    well be a real punker man. .do something that no other punk bands do.....that way your being really punk.. (dont think im sarcastic cause im not).. like.. pickup a fretless once you get aquanted with your fretboard..it deffinitly improves your skill of playing.. your knowledge of music and everything..
    fretless isn't only for jazz...
    You can take any bass in the world and put it in any setting of music.. if it sounds good to you.. thats all that matters..
    im in a punk band sorta.. im not sure if its punk .. i dunno what to call it..
    well.. goodluck man i hope some other people can tell you more
  4. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    Two replies already, I'm pleased! Heheh.

    Thanks for those replies though, you've already helped me out a little. I think it would be nice to get one, the only thing standing in my way now is being completely broke. :-/ Heh. I'd like a new bass anyway though, I need to start saving. Anyway, thanks for the replies so far...

    Oh, thought of something else I want to say I guess. I'd actually like to play a variety of music on bass. I just don't think I could convince many people I know to play blues with me or jazz or whatever. Not that I really have much knowledge of playing those kinds of music anyway. I'm more used to just pumping out eighth notes to accompany power chords on guitar. I don't really think of a lot of the artists I listen to as very talented compared to a lot of the other music out there, but I still love listening to them. So I guess as part two of my post could anyone offer links about different kinds of music on bass. I know that doesn;t really have to do with the original subject, but I was just thinking about it.
  5. Stupidnick


    Mar 22, 2002
    ...my room...
    hey man
    ehh listen to what kinda music you wanna listen to.. and dont let anyone mess with you about it. just ignore if they do (it happens to me alot .not here but other places)
    play what you want though..its cool to grow into different types of music like blues and jazz..
    i play some blues.. not much jazz(haven't found any easy jazz songs that appeal to me).. im mostly a punk typa guy
    if you wanna here some really challenging punk stuff listen to "minute men" mike watt was the bassist for them.. hes on talkbass sometimes. He has a forum on here..
    but what kinda stuff do you play mostly?
    play a fretless sometime man.. you might like it...
    well goodluck with playing bass.. keep it real

    PS: im broke too.. im horrible.. i want 2 fretlesses, a 6 string, and an 8 string bass =(.. oh yeah and maybe another 4 string =(.....
  6. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    I mostly listen to like pop rock stuff, like Weezer, and Green Day, I play stuff like that along with my CD player. :):needs to find a band::) I actually don't listen to much jazz or blues or anything, but when I hear it I enjoy listening. I'll check out that band though. Rancid has some cool bass lines and stuff too (Journey to End of East Bay), so I know it's not like all punk stuff is real boring, but I think it would be a lot more fun if I could play some blues licks and stuff. Actually if you can recomend (I can never spell that right) any good blues or jazz stuff to listen to I'd kind of like that, since I'd really like to start listening to some of it.

    Reply to your PS: There's this beautiful 4 string hanging up at a local music shop. Never played it though. Not that expensive, but then again, I have no money. I'd like to try out a five string, and after reading good things about fretless, would like one of those two. Meh. If only laying around all day paid good! :p
  7. Playing a nice unlinned Fretless bass is like walking barefoot on a beach as a Fretted bass is like walking on a beach with your shoes on!! Does this make any sense???/ I play both. But I love to play the Fretless more because it just feels soooooooo gooooooood,,, mwahhhhhhs. Fretless bass has a more earthy woodzy tone to it.. Fretted is metal against metal/wood sound....Whatever! man!!!! just to be playing any bass is alright with me........ If your just starting out you should think about getting a good bass playing teacher.
  8. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    I have a fretless, that I only use in studio for ballads. That is IMO where fretless suits best. I wouldn't want to use fretless live, because its just so easy to have bad intonation and be out of tune. I know, I'm lazy and I should practice until I get it right. But the biggest reason I use fretted bass is that I love the slightly metallic attack of fretted bass.
  9. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    >>If your just starting out you should think about getting a good bass playing teacher.

    Yeah, I have a pretty good instructor right now. He's been playing for like 40 years, so he has a pretty good idea what he's doing I think. :)

    Oh, and good anology! But I've only been to the beach once...Heheh.
  10. trane


    Jun 3, 2002
    Tokyo, Japan
    Actually, it's in a live situation where your intonation problems, i.e., clams, are least likely to be noticed. Besides, what we are sensitive to while practicing/recording is generally invisible to the average club-goer intent on having a good time.
  11. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    Matt, good question. Let me just say this, if you want to/and do play bass for the rest of your life....I can asure you that your tastes will change as you get older. When I started in the mid-eighties(gasp)...I did not want to hear anything but REM and college radio as we called it back then, but as time went along I became more into BASS than the music that I played and I started getting into more styles of music just to check out the bass parts. In other words, listen to what you like and let your love of the instrument guide you to what you want to play and or hear. When I was 17, I got a record(gasp) by this guy named Jaco playing a fretless bass. It was neat, but it took a little while to grow on me. Then in a year or so I was buying everything that he had recorded or played on. I would recommend that if you are in the least interested in the fretless that you give him a listen someday. When I heard Jaco play with Joni Mitchell, it changed my life. Bass is a great instrument, fretted and fretless....enjoy.
  12. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
  13. I've been playing fretless (Yamaha RBX270F) for two or three months, having played fretted on and off for about 30 years:eek: I play in a 3 piece rock band, BTW. My fretted is a Bass Collection 4 string active, which hardly ever gets played, now.

    Fretless is really great, IMHO.

    The Yammy is an entry level fretless but really good value for money IMHO. I tried a few in that price range and found the Yamaha playability, build quality, etc, to be the best.

    The first thing I did was to remove the Yamaha roundwounds and fit a set of TI Jazz flat strings. These are seriously superb strings, again, IMHO.

    My advice would be to go for something like the Yammy to begin with. Learn how to play it then consider something better later rather than spending loads to start with and finding fretless is not for you.

    Best of luck.

  14. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    fretless is evil.

    there seems to be a trend towards blank planks and i think it distracts from the real meaning, JUST GET THE NOTES OUT.

    there's no room for all this panzy-arsed mwaaaaah junk.

    expression belongs with frets.

    and you're right, only crap jazz ballads derserve the toothless grin.

    DON'T DO IT.

    punk is better with frets, rock is better with frets, Blink182 is better with frets.

    Don't get sucked in.

  15. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I "agree" with f
  16. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Why not? ;)
  17. fhodshon....If your really a bass player and you keep playing I bet you will not be saying this in 5 years or so.... I have my roots in the real punk rock (1977)scene! Todays "punk" is so ****ing lame Blink182 is pussy ****. Ever listen to the Dead Boys? that was true punk...
  18. check out Catch-22. great punk fretless playing.
  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    (leans over the boat)

    yep, fred, you hooked a good one that time - make sure you give'em some extra line before ya reel'em in.

    are ya gonna keep 'em, or toss 'em back in?
  20. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    let's see where we end up, J...

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