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Playing fretless bass?

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30 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:

Play lined or unlined fretless, play looking at every note or some or none, do vibrato and slides to your heart’s content or don’t, do whatever you like, but most importantly don’t ever be put off playing because you find any of the things people have said above difficult. I play lined fretless, I do vibrato and slides (not too much but I like it so why not?), I look at the notes but am beginning to look less but so what? It doesn’t improve the quality of the songs I play. Play whichever bass you want in the manner you fancy and feel comfortable with, one person’s method or technique is not another’s, and there is no definitive ‘right’ way to play or learn, do your own thing. I’m not having a pop at anyone or their advice, I’m just trying to stress that it’s easy to be put off by an apparent ‘orthodoxy’ but then I would say that, I’m an old punk who was told as a child and young teenager that I would never be able to play an instrument, let alone be in a band, for a multitude of reasons, all of which vanished when punk came along and suddenly I was in bands playing instruments. There is no right or wrong way with something creative, or maybe there is, just don’t ever think you are doing anything wrong if you are playing your instrument, by all means seek advice and try it but never worry about doing stuff your own way.

'Doing stuff your own way' can waste a lifetime. And often does. 

I'm not interested in 'Chat.' Or PC theories on creativity. Or mutual massaging of sore ego's. Or encouraging/excusing/applauding rubbish musicianship. This forum is not for me. Bye every one. Keep up the 'chatting.' 

 

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1 hour ago, md54 said:

I'm not interested in 'Chat.'

Err, the clue is in the name...?

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Just for the sake of sharing experience - what I've tried, what might work, what doesn't etc...
I mentioned above about practicing without looking at the fingerboard - nothing to do with any md54 'rite of passage' but it's a really interesting thing to do. We're making music and one sense that we don't really need is sight. If you just look away I think your attention to pitch accuracy is more acute. Also it forces you to concentrate more on what your left hand position feels like. I just think it's worth a try (and a bit of tenacity).
I do wonder if the main reason I look at the fingerboard is habit - that's how I learned from the very start cos I had to. I also stir my coffee clockwise - at least some of all this is just deep-rooted habit.
Re vibrato and slides I said forget them - I don't mean for all time, it's just I think that developing fingering for pitch accuracy is more important early on - the artistic use of slides and vibrato can be added later 'to taste' as it says in the cookery books.

This is a good thread (in the main) for us fretless pretenders (haha) - just wanting to share some things I have tried.

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Fast forward to 1 minute in for Scott’s take on intonation, which is followed by vibrato and slides. Yes it’s one of his free videos so there is an element of ‘click bait’ about the fail thing and he is advertising his Gary Willis course, but it is another insight from someone who can play and has learnt from GW himself.

 

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2 hours ago, Soledad said:

Just for the sake of sharing experience - what I've tried, what might work, what doesn't etc...
I mentioned above about practicing without looking at the fingerboard - nothing to do with any md54 'rite of passage' but it's a really interesting thing to do. We're making music and one sense that we don't really need is sight. If you just look away I think your attention to pitch accuracy is more acute. Also it forces you to concentrate more on what your left hand position feels like. I just think it's worth a try (and a bit of tenacity).
I do wonder if the main reason I look at the fingerboard is habit - that's how I learned from the very start cos I had to. I also stir my coffee clockwise - at least some of all this is just deep-rooted habit.
Re vibrato and slides I said forget them - I don't mean for all time, it's just I think that developing fingering for pitch accuracy is more important early on - the artistic use of slides and vibrato can be added later 'to taste' as it says in the cookery books.

This is a good thread (in the main) for us fretless pretenders (haha) - just wanting to share some things I have tried.

I definitely lack tenacity, I’m only just beginning to play fretted without looking where my fingers are landing! I play a lot of things high up the neck on both fretted and fretless, it’s even more difficult (for me) to look away up there. I suppose what I really meant with my earlier post was not to be disheartened when you can’t do things more experienced players can but also not to be subservient to an ‘orthodoxy’ that might not suit you, or worse, possibly quash your creativity. I wasn’t saying don’t do what person a) or person b) suggests, by all means try anything and everything until you find a method of practice and style you like. I think your comment about adding things ‘to taste’ is exactly right. I play more slides and vibrato than most people recommend when discussing fretless, I was a bit crestfallen at first when people suggested just playing the fretless like a fretted bass when practicing, yet I do do this when running scales or something. I’m a big Mick Karn fan and his playing was (imho) an absolute fluid celebration of fretless sometimes to the point of abstraction, I remember reading an interview with Japan and then talking about how the band would sometimes rehearse without MK and come up with a song then he’d turn up having come up with a bass line on his own simply inspired by the title of the song, the band would then rewrite the whole thing around his bass line because it was so good. Obviously I’m not saying I’m as great a player as MK, I would consider myself a hapless beginner at best, but I am still inspired by the formative culture of my teenage years as a punk when suddenly I realised that I was free to be creative in any way I wanted. This includes very formal learning, if that’s what you want to do, after all these years I’m going to a bass tutor, loving it and my playing is improving because of it, but I am very careful not to let it impinge on my sometimes unorthodox style that Inthink is rooted in my DIY punk ethos. I’m rambling... I appreciate all the advice on this thread and the rest of BC, if I were a belligerent maverick I’d not read it at all, all I’m saying is do what you want how you want and obviously that includes learning formally if you so wish, just don’t be put off by it.

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Apostrophe Catastrophe!

 

That hold then vibrato technique is very Jaco 🙂

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4 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Apostrophe Catastrophe!

I got as far as counting seventeen apostrophes then my eyes went funny 😳

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17 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Apostrophe Catastrophe!

 

That hold then vibrato technique is very Jaco 🙂

Is it? Cello players were doing it 200 years ago. And no doubt, singers were doing it 1000 years ago!

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2 minutes ago, paul_c2 said:

Is it? Cello players were doing it 200 years ago. And no doubt, singers were doing it 1000 years ago!

Yes it is. I don't mean no-one else has ever done it, but it was a strong element of his sound on his more melodic passages.

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ETA and of course, vibrato is entirely possible on a fretted bass - you either bend up the note fretted a semitone below, so you have the ability to pitch up and down around the desired note; or accept the compromise of bending the note only up in pitch (then returning to the pitch). 

I guess, with fretless, its more accessible, so its easier to do it. And a minority misuse vibrato to hide intonation issues.

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Posted (edited)

Just been playing my fretted and fretless back to back, playing the same riffs (funk type stuff, no slides, no vibrato - boo 😉). I actually surprised myself how accurate I was on the fretless without looking, at least up to about the 10th fret/position (it actually 'felt' easier if I closed my eyes, no distractions). However, I like the occasional peek and check take the 'worry' out, even on fretted. Beyond the 12th fret/position, because it all gets a bit tight, I'm going to look and really listen, the upside of which really makes it look like I'm into what I'm playing. I should also point out that I'm no stranger to fretless, I've playing fretless almost as long as fretted - it's all Pino's fault. Speaking of whom, here is the Welsh wizard being unprofessional and almost looking continuously at his fingering 😱!

 

Edited by ezbass
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3 minutes ago, ezbass said:

Just been playing my fretted and fretless back to back, playing the same riffs (funk type stuff, no slides, no vibrato - boo 😉). I actually surprised myself how accurate I was on the fretless without looking, at least up to about the 10th fret/position (it actually 'felt' easier if I closed my eyes, no distractions). However, I feel the occasional peek and check take the 'worry' out, even on fretted. Beyond the 12th fret/position, because it all gets a bit tight, I'm going to look and really listen, the upside of which really makes it look like I'm into what I'm playing. I should also point out that I'm no stranger to fretless, I've playing fretless almost as long as fretted - it's all Pino's fault. Speaking of whom, here is the Welsh wizard being unprofessional and looking continuously at his fingering 😱!

 

Man alive... That's some frothy playing right there!

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1 minute ago, Frank Blank said:

Man alive... That's some frothy playing right there!

You are spot on there. For me, the man can do no wrong. He even seems like a really nice, modest chap when interviewed. What a b*****d! 😂

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3 hours ago, paul_c2 said:

ETA and of course, vibrato is entirely possible on a fretted bass - you either bend up the note fretted a semitone below, so you have the ability to pitch up and down around the desired note; or accept the compromise of bending the note only up in pitch (then returning to the pitch). 

I guess, with fretless, its more accessible, so its easier to do it. And a minority misuse vibrato to hide intonation issues.

Absolutely this. I bend notes like crazy on my fretted bass and I certainly don't use vibrato or slide into notes to cover bad intonation on the fretless, if I'm out I want to know I'm out.

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4 minutes ago, ezbass said:

You are spot on there. For me, the man can do no wrong. He even seems like a really nice, modest chap when interviewed. What a b*****d! 😂

I haven't heard a lot of PP's work due to my stupidity as a teenager. The first time I heard him was on the Gary Numan album I, Assassin, on the album previous to this (Dance) Numan had used Mick Karn and I somehow thought Pino had been brought in as a replacement to kind of 'mimic' Karn's style, so, like an idiot, I took against him, suffice to say my loss.

Given that rookie error I could now do with some recommendations of good Palladino playing...

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Guest subaudio
Posted (edited)

There is absolutely no mileage whatsoever in setting arbitrary, insignificant judgements on other people's ability.

Black or white thinking is purely negative and offers nothing useful at all.

Music is beautiful, even when it's ugly.

It is infinitely more powerful than judgemental, poorly thought out opinion.

Seek out positive voices that help you be the player you wish to become.

Use your ears to judge skill, not aesthetics.

My advice for new fretless players is enjoy what you do, study, practice and listen to music but most importantly, enjoy it.

Don't listen to chairborne warriors with an unhelpful attitude that offer only negativity.

Edited by subaudio

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30 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:

I haven't heard a lot of PP's work due to my stupidity as a teenager. The first time I heard him was on the Gary Numan album I, Assassin, on the album previous to this (Dance) Numan had used Mick Karn and I somehow thought Pino had been brought in as a replacement to kind of 'mimic' Karn's style, so, like an idiot, I took against him, suffice to say my loss.

Given that rookie error I could now do with some recommendations of good Palladino playing...

Step right this way, sir. 

First up, I agree that PP’s playing on I, Assassin does seem to channel the mighty Karn. Being stupid as a teenager is in the job description, man alive I did some stupid things that make me shudder now, but it’s a rite of passage.

Anyway, the first 2 Paul Young albums (No Parlez and The Secret of Association) are pretty much obligatory, No Parlez is one the main reasons I picked up a bass in the first place. David Gilmour’s About Face features Pino, the track Murder certainly. Don Henley’s Sunset Grill from Building the Perfect Beast is another good one, as is New York Minute from End of the Innocence. Joan Armatrading’s The Shouting Stage is all Pino. He is on the first Go West album at least (Call Me is just brilliant). Sowing The Seeds Of Love by Tears For Fears is Pino again. Then you have his fretted playing with John Mayer (Continuum is my favourite), D’Angelo (Voodoo is meant to be brilliant if you like that genre) and of course The Who (not that I feel it suits him really, but those are some boots to fill). 

There are plenty of other artists who have employed his bass stylings, here’s a link to the Wiki page https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pino_Palladino .

Hope this gives you something to pick from.

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11 minutes ago, ezbass said:

Step right this way, sir. 

First up, I agree that PP’s playing on I, Assassin does seem to channel the mighty Karn. Being stupid as a teenager is in the job description, man alive I did some stupid things that make me shudder now, but it’s a rite of passage.

Anyway, the first 2 Paul Young albums (No Parlez and The Secret of Association) are pretty much obligatory, No Parlez is one the main reasons I picked up a bass in the first place. David Gilmour’s About Face features Pino, the track Murder certainly. Don Henley’s Sunset Grill from Building the Perfect Beast is another good one, as is New York Minute from End of the Innocence. Joan Armatrading’s The Shouting Stage is all Pino. He is on the first Go West album at least (Call Me is just brilliant). Sowing The Seeds Of Love by Tears For Fears is Pino again. Then you have his fretted playing with John Mayer (Continuum is my favourite), D’Angelo (Voodoo is meant to be brilliant if you like that genre) and of course The Who (not that I feel it suits him really, but those are some boots to fill). 

There are plenty of other artists who have employed his bass stylings, here’s a link to the Wiki page https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pino_Palladino .

Hope this gives you something to pick from.

Superb, cheers!

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Guest subaudio

Another tip for fretless bass I learned from studying double bass is the Importance of being relaxed.

If your body and mind are tense it will effect your technique and your intonation.

We play using our bodies so learn how to give your body what it needs.

Stand or sit with a long (gently stretched) back, relax your shoulders, feet at shoulder width apart.

Your arms, elbows, wrists and fingers should always be gently curved, no sharp angles.

Breathe deeply, focus and listen to what your doing, look at your hands, fingers, wrist, elbows to check they are relaxed and gently curved.

 

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On 29/03/2019 at 23:18, paul_c2 said:

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who started out on fretless. I guess starting out of DB then transferring to bass guitar would be vaguely similar too.

 

I started on fretless (unlined) and played either that or EUB for my entire gigging "career", though I played guitar first (and violin at school) so that probably doesn't count. I've tried fretted basses and even own one now (hardly ever played) but never liked them.
As far as I can tell (unless I'm deluded) fretless playing is easy enough. My intonation was sufficient to not draw complaints, even from proper musicians, and I can play and read charts; I look at the neck fairly often, though.
Recently, I found a recording from my first bass gig, which must have been after 6-8 months of starting IIRC. It's not great but there weren't any complaints at the time and I seem to be close enough to the correct pitch. In the unlikely event that anyone is actually interested I could link to an example.

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6 minutes ago, knirirr said:

I started on fretless (unlined) and played either that or EUB for my entire gigging "career", though I played guitar first (and violin at school) so that probably doesn't count. I've tried fretted basses and even own one now (hardly ever played) but never liked them.
As far as I can tell (unless I'm deluded) fretless playing is easy enough. My intonation was sufficient to not draw complaints, even from proper musicians, and I can play and read charts; I look at the neck fairly often, though.
Recently, I found a recording from my first bass gig, which must have been after 6-8 months of starting IIRC. It's not great but there weren't any complaints at the time and I seem to be close enough to the correct pitch. In the unlikely event that anyone is actually interested I could link to an example.

I'm also no longer enamoured with fretted basses.

Purely a personal preference and I love hearing great music on any instrument but the expression, voice and tactile experience of playing fretless for me personally is what really lights me up.

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