Fretless bass

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by sun_of_nothing, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    My friend is thinking about picking up a fretless 5 string bass, the only problem is that he is reluctant to buy one because he's not sure that he'll be any good on the fretless.

    So I ask of you, forum,

    how different is the fretless compared to the fretted?
    is it easy to transition to?
    and what are some easy ways to adapt to the fretless?

    any input is appreciated.:yesway:
     
    highlordmugfug likes this.
  2. highlordmugfug

    highlordmugfug themuthaphukkindeath

    Messages:
    4,659
    Likes Received:
    470
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Location:
    _
    I actually prefer fretless. It's a lot easier to play, imo. Instead of worrying about hitting the right frets, you pretty much to play based on feel, which will make you better overall.

    I've only played a few fretless basses, but everytime I do I just slam right into it. Super fun.

    As for "easy ways" to adapt... well... Primus songs aren't that hard. ;)
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  3. Origin

    Origin Rainbow In The Dark

    Messages:
    2,464
    Likes Received:
    131
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    I want one badly, have played several and it's smooth and wonderful. You adapt pretty quickly, and it's not long before it feels natural.
    In terms of adaptation, I'd probably recommend a lined fingerboard if he's concerned about not knowing the fingering etc., I've been mulling what the hell I should buy over myself haha.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  4. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    thanks guys. as for lined fretboards, I'm not sure that the ones that he's looking at have them, but I'm sure they have dots on the side of the neck, right?
    either way, He is one of the most talented musicians I know, I'm sure he could pick up on it right away.
     
  5. highlordmugfug

    highlordmugfug themuthaphukkindeath

    Messages:
    4,659
    Likes Received:
    470
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Location:
    _
    I like unlined, with dots on the side, but that's just a personal preference.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  6. Asrial

    Asrial Whisper into nose

    Messages:
    1,845
    Likes Received:
    166
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Location:
    Vedbæk, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Unlined might be a taste preference, since I like to have that visual, plus it might fool spectators into believing it is a normal bass from a distance. :lol:

    But if he is good at a regular bass, then it wouldn't matter much if it's fretted or fretless. Just requires a tad bit more precision.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  7. DLG

    DLG not guthrie govan

    Messages:
    4,846
    Likes Received:
    651
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    fretless is a lot harder to play than fretted. Fretless players who are considered great, in metal, guys like Sean Malone, pride themselves on their intonation, and experienced bass players will hear when someone's intonation is not good while playing a fretless bass, even though it might sound good to people who don't really have trained ears.

    You have to be really familiar with the fretboard and know exactly where to slide your finger to in order to achieve perfect intonation, whereas on a fretted bass, you can't really go wrong with your finger anywhere inside the fret.

    So, if you really want to excel as a fretless player, it will take a lot of work and a lot of experimentation with your technique and the way you manuever around the fretboard. Especially when you are playing up on the high notes, at which point you will have to really rely on your ears more than on your hands and eyes to make sure that you are in tune.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  8. skeletor88

    skeletor88 The Devil

    Messages:
    293
    Likes Received:
    176
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Perfect answer.

    I have a fretless 4 string and I had to work my ass off to really get my intonation together. Don't even bother recording with it until you've executed that. Live it wont sound too bad if you're a little off, but recording will sound like pure anus if you're not on top of it.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  9. deevit

    deevit SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Location:
    Holland
    Indeed! Fretless is great, but really different from fretted bass IMO. For good intonation it's essential to make a whole lot of hours playing! Personally I find it more difficult to play than fretted bass.

    Apart from the intonation (with good ears, wich your friend has apparently, that won't be a problem with enough practice) a good, natural sounding vibrato is something he will have to spend a lot of attention to. A lot of players, especially starting fretless players, tend to exaggerate on vibrato.

    I personally really like the look of unlined fretboards, but I play lined because I really feel it helps me a lot in my intonation and my overall view on the neck.
     
  10. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    hmm, looks like mixed reviews...
     
  11. deevit

    deevit SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Location:
    Holland
    If your friend is a good fretted player he probably won't have much problems starting fretless. It's just harder to master than fretted bass, IMO, and most of the times takes a little different approach than fretted bass. A big part of that will work itself out on the way.

    Oh, and it's a lot of fun too. :)
     
  12. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    yeah, he's a pretty good fretted player. his main choice of instrument is the electric guitar, but he's one of those guys who is good on any instrument he touches... bass, drums, keyboard; you name it, he can play it.

    I was also thinking about picking up a 5 or 6 string myself, but fretted. I told him that if I got the fretted and he got the fretless, we could trade for a while if he would prefer to use the fretted to record, until his fretless skills are better.
    Would this be a good idea?
     
  13. deevit

    deevit SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Location:
    Holland
    If you both like the idea, why not? :)
     
  14. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    I for sure like the idea, because its like having access to two basses and only paying for one, and it allows me to fool around on the fretless too :D

    When I proposed the idea, he said "Woah, now we're talking!" so I'm sure he would like the idea, but he said he would have to talk to his dad about it first, and it hasn't come up in conversation since then.
     
  15. deevit

    deevit SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Location:
    Holland
    Sounds good! :)
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  16. Esp Griffyn

    Esp Griffyn APEX

    Messages:
    5,326
    Likes Received:
    399
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Location:
    SEVEN
    Fretless bass is great, but it's not something you dabble with or do for fun. Tell him to get a lined bass, that way he can have a visual reference to match to the tones. Noodling around on a fretless bass is easy and fun, but getting good intonation takes practice. Most non-musicians will not notice unless it's really bad, but musicians will pick up on it straight away. I have only ever dabbled on unlined fretless basses that my brother has owned and my intonation is terrible. My brother practised long enough to have excellent intonation, as I only ever play bass for 5 minutes here and there for a laugh, it's not something I aspire to.

    Your friend should not be afraid of fretless bass, but I think it will be easier to learn on a lined fretted. If he cannot get the kind of bass he wants with a lined fretboard, then he will just have to learn without lines, which is not impossible. If he is hoping to do it as a quick and easy side-piece to his regular bass playing, he should not expect to be much good at it. It takes time and practice, but like most other things in music, the journy of learning it is as much fun as the destination of being good at it.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  17. sun_of_nothing

    sun_of_nothing King of the Strings

    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    He is buying one later tonight he says, and he found one he likes, but it is unlined. It has position markers on the side though, so it probably wont be that bad without the lined fretboard.

    But anyways, he bought a Brice Fretless 5 string from Rondo Music seen here:
    Brice HXB-405 Nat Spalted Fretless at RondoMusic.com
    Any idea if these are any good?
     
  18. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Bass Player in Exile

    Messages:
    1,554
    Likes Received:
    157
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    Brice basses are pretty good, but for my money the best 5-string fretless entry level bass is the Ibanez SR 35. It is based on the SR 305 but with a lined and dotted ebonol fingerboard. It's $399.99 at MF and GC.

    Brice is basically like SX in that you may get a turd, and you may get something great. At the very least, the preamp will probably need replacing, and the fingerboard may need to be leveled. If you or your friend can do it, great. If not, you may want to go another direction.

    ALSO, keep in mind that the side-dots on many fretless necks are placed just as they are on fretted necks. That is, between notes. If you get an unlined fretless, this can lead to intonation problems if your bass player is dependent on his eyes to tell him where the note is. I would rather get a completely unmarked fingerboard than one with the side dots in the wrong place. If the fingerboard has lines, the offset dots won't be a big deal.

    I also concur that fretless can be easier to play once you get your intonation down. It will take a lot of practice though. I started in music with the Cello, and I had to make a big adjustment to learn to play with frets. I bought a fretless and it was like visiting an old friend.
     
    sun_of_nothing likes this.
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    13,176
    Likes Received:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Fretlines kind of go against the basic idea of fretless - to intonate the notes where they truly should be, as opposed to frets/fret lines, which are a matter of compromise for the sake of convenience.

    You certainly get a different tone and feel playing fretless. It opens up a lot more options, but with more options comes more responsibility to know what you're doing.
     
  20. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Bass Player in Exile

    Messages:
    1,554
    Likes Received:
    157
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    Perhaps, but they are good for learning.
     

Share This Page