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MacDaddy

Playing fretless bass?

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- play the notes on the fret line/markers

- Don't be tempted to slide to every note (unless that's what's required)

- Severe vibrato can help slightly out of tune pitching.

that's pretty much all I know about playing a fretless.

Anything else I need to know?

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Practice practice practice. The ear for pitch will come with that.

If I pick up my fretless I find it hard to put it down, fretted basses sound limited in comparison. At least, the way I play them they do.

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28 minutes ago, songofthewind said:

Practice practice practice. If I pick up my fretless I find it hard to put it down, fretted basses sound limited in comparison. 

This. Frets are just like that shïtty Autotune nonsense. 😉

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1 hour ago, songofthewind said:

Practice practice practice. The ear for pitch will come with that.

If I pick up my fretless I find it hard to put it down, fretted basses sound limited in comparison. At least, the way I play them they do.

Yep, I feel the same, love the feeling of playing with no frets, it's like being set free.

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I have to admit I was really nervous about fretless. 

Shouldn’t have been. It’s liberating and a fretted bass feels like a “my first bass” now.

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7 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

- Severe vibrato can help slightly out of tune pitching.

I wouldn't advise that approach, as you'd just a wobble around without a centre pitch. That may work as occasional effect but don't over-rely on it!

You need to train your ears to hear intervals and know what the note you are playing is supposed to sound like. There is no substitute for accurate pitching....

 

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17 hours ago, paul_5 said:

This. Frets are just like that shïtty Autotune nonsense. 😉

only if they are like this

Image result for truly accurate guitar fret

  • Haha 1

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I will give a tip: Even a bass with fretlines needs you to understand and adapt technique to hit the sweet spot. The line is 2mm, your finger is up to 2 cm wide so to be in tune means finding the correct spot for your finger to push the string against the fretboard. How meaty (the part of) your finger is, how you hold your fingers etc has an impact and you need to compensate accordingly.

Use your ears for that. 

I find I am in tune when I have the edge of my pinkey on the fretline (boney) but that my index hits the spot when positioned with the fretline towards the middle of the finger (more meat). The great thing is that muscle memory does this adjusting for you so practise.... and it will come.

2nd tip: your bass setup needs to be right (unless you are Jaco) and for adjusting your bass’ intonation use a toothpick. It is as wide as your fretline, so if you create an artificial fret with the toothpick (slide it under the string) you can get intonation spot on.

 

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Practice on a fretted bass. 😮

If you are able to play a fretted bass with absolutely no fret buzz then you can easily translate that onto fretless. To avoid fret buzz completely you have to position your finger just behind the fret. Try it.

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A fretless is a great exercise even if you don’t play it in a band situation live.

They make you really listen to what you and your band members are playing. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of A A A A D D E E etc and not really listen to the pitch/tone/harmony.

I don’t play a fretless live but have one in the quiver for those days.....you know...those days.

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What Haz said. Your finger is way wider than the fret line on a fretless. If you play on the line, you will have part of your finger on, behind and in front of the fret line.

You need to position  your finger so that edge of it sits next to the line your fretting, not past it, which is what happens when playing right on the line.  You will be sharp,  playing right on the line, and it sounds worse the further up the neck you play. It doesnt sound so bad down at the nut end

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A good way to sort this out is to play plugged into a very accurate tuner, preferably with a large display I find.

Then try each note on each string up and down the fretboard, and see where to position the relevant digit to get the accurate pitch. This really helps me to train my ear.

My fingertips differ slightly in softness and width, so each requires a slightly different approach, in my experience.

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Guest subaudio

My 2p.

Play fretless with your ears :) listen to yourself, listen to the band and all combinations therein.

We should be doing that anyway but its crucial for fretless, also, good, consistent technique will really help.

Tony Franklin has a great TrueFire course out for fretless, just the intro has a wealth of information, it does get a bit advanced technique wise after that but its a great resource and has cool play along tracks.

Enjoy and have fun :)

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I bought a fretless recently (I had owned one before though) and I took to it like a duck to water - no real troubles. Part of that was I was already used to playing fretted, reading music, sometimes sightreading and/or following a conductor so only very occasional opportunities to look at my left hand. So I need to know, more/less, where it goes and what's under my fingers at any time.

Its just the same really, except a bit more concentration. I think the "putting the fingers in the right place" previously was mainly from listening properly, rather than simply physically knowing, because unlike (eg) a double bass, there's not much physical clues you feel to know you're in 1st position, or 2nd position, etc etc. Its not like on a double bass where the body starts so high up that you can know from (what would be) fret 7 onwards!

If your fretted technique is a little bit sloppy or your ear isn't that good then these areas would need tightening up - but it will benefit both fretted/fretless.

I'm at the stage now where I can play "straight" and nobody would know its a fretless; or I can use the advantage to do little things like dig into a note to make it do the fretless unique warble (sorry couldn't think of a better term), or add a bit of vibrato here and there, or do little slides into and out of notes to make it really expressive (and DEFINITELY different/fretless!)

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On 11/10/2018 at 10:32, MacDaddy said:

only if they are like this

Image result for truly accurate guitar fret

It looks like a dog sneezed on it

  • Haha 2

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I use a Peterson StroboClip HD, it’s on all the time I’m playing, just practice, practice, practice. Play tunes with no ‘fretless content’ so to speak. As other people have said, after a while going back to fretted feels like a regressive move, fretted instruments begin to feel restrictive.

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I'll go against the grain and say DON'T use a tuner. Learn what an interval should sound like, and learn how to recognise when its off, and in which direction. It will improve your "ear" which will help in so many other ways - you'll be able to recognise/transcribe stuff MUCH quicker, you'll demystify the harmonies of songs, you'll improvise better etc etc

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On 10/10/2018 at 11:11, MacDaddy said:

- Severe vibrato can help slightly out of tune pitching.

Only thing worse than severe vibrato on a fretless is out of tune severe vibrato

Or.......

Only thing worse than out of tune fretless is out of tune fretless with severe vibrato

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