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Fretless Tips Needed!

Discussion in 'Music Education - Share your knowledge here!' started by Florin, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    OK I think I am crazy, but I have a STreamer LX fretless (Thanks @schlobodan ), and It sounds soooo gooooood!

    I brought the bass to yesterday's rehearsals, and my guys actually liked it, to my surprise :)
    Sooo, in 5 days I have a gig, give me all those dirty little secrets you have for a good intonation.
    - I am using in ear which helps
    - fretless is unlined, dots are a bit off.
     
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  2. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

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    Oh man, emergency! :) Where's Philosopher King?
     
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  3. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Dots are probably not off, you just gotta think from the edge of your fingers instead of from the middle of them, especially near the octave and beyond.
    First Check the intonation setup, then doublecheck it with a capo at 12th fret position. - but then again with Schlobodan involved it is probably set up properly already.

    Edit: unlined is good - no lines to trick you into playing by sight. Trick to increase muscle memory: Try to make perfect octaves from notes you play on the same string. IE quickly move from 3rd fret position to 15th, 4th fret to 16th etcetera just judging from the side dots. Then do the same without looking.
     
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  4. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Oh and play some stuff with chords high up the neck while incorporating an open string - also quickly makes your intonation better.
    And DON'T BEND STRINGS for vibrato - rather roll your finger gently along the string like a violinist would.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  5. eyvindwa

    eyvindwa Supporting Member

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    My best tip would be: just play it, and don't worry too much! I found that I could actually play better than I thought, by just going ahead with it, playing songs I knew well from before.
     
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  6. eyvindwa

    eyvindwa Supporting Member

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    ...and another thing: people always say: play with your ears, and not your eyes - i.e. don't look at the strings or dots or whatever for reference. However, when you play in front of people, and hear that you are off, it is already much too late! So, at a gig, use whatever you can to help play the right note :D
     
  7. Hoggles

    Hoggles Supporting Member Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Watch some Remco on fretless (and fretted ofc).

    Really good inspiration for "not so normal" fretless playing. A lot of cool, unique techniques (especially the right hand) that even many of the fretless greats never used.

    No doubt @Florin you don't have this kind of free form opportunity in a band setting, but regardless...I think Remco should be required viewing for fretless owners. @DiMarco highlighted him in another thread. Good stuff.

     
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  8. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the tips guys, @Hoggles that vid is awesome.
     
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  9. Foal30

    Foal30 Supporting Member

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    Just play.
    It'll be ok
     
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  10. jay28

    jay28

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    One practice technique that I found extremely useful, is to use tanpura drones from Hindustani music. They have alot of overtones and are easier on the ears than the sine wave drones from tuners. Adjust the tonic to match what key your playing in, or if the piece modulates, change the tonic to match the root of the chord. Also, play scales/ arpeggios with the drones. Shifting the intervals in relation to the tonic, results in a pure intonation, instead of equal temperament, where all the notes are equally out of tune. This also trains your ear and muscle memory. You will have to adjust when playing with piano & guitar though, because they are equal temperament.
     
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  11. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    There’s stellar advice on this board!

    My first Fretless experience was with the cello (no dots and definitely no lines, where you’re automatically expected to play by muscle memory because you had to sight read the music on paper. I wasn’t very good at sight reading so I tended to play also by ear to the consternation of my instructor...

    Before I bought my first Fretless Corvette, I played from memory a specific song I had in mind and somehow it worked for me via an intense love of the song- Paradise by Icehouse. But I had difficulty (and still do) going from the fretted to a Fretless version of a bass line on faster parts of one of my own songs. In this case, finger accuracy was the issue. Just have to practice a lot more on certain parts, given you don’t have the leeway that frets give you.

    With that said, I reiterate Hardy’s comments on muscle memory and note location.

    For my own two cents, I would recommend the Fretless only for songs that demand it. Ones that could use a cool glissando or slur, and when the mix is sparse on percussion and the bass has a lot of sonic elbow room so to speak.
    Like here for example when Guy Pratt toured with Pink Floyd - check him out in the interlude at 3:17 or so-


    But when they performed Money he played a fretted jazz bass.

    If Guy Pratt did it on the Pink Floyd Delicate Sound of Thunder tour, and both he and Glen Krawczk did so touring with Icehouse, why can’t we with our own stuff?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  12. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    One more thing- there are cases when being a little off intonation can be a good thing for adding tension to a song, just as with vocals and lead guitar. Guitarists will sometimes do that when they bend the notes. A classic example is The opening note of Page’s famous solo on Stairway to Heaven. A good vocal example would be where Siouxsie Sue sings “unspeakable things” (when she repeats it) on Candyman by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  13. Foal30

    Foal30 Supporting Member

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    I like Sixousie and Bass Guitar
    Peekabo
     
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  14. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Thank you all for the advices. I play fretless only since then, and I don't think I will go back to fretted anytime soon. I needed fretless for the accoustic show, but the bandmates liked it, so I kinda play hardcore with fretless now :)
    I used some large stickers in the beginning, until I developed muscular memory, I removed them now. I have a decent left hand technique, and that helped a lot I guess.
    I like the sound better with bigger action, it is a bit harder to play, but I am getting stronger. Intonation is decent up to octave, I still have to work above the octave, I use some Bach preludes for that.
    I am in love!
     
  15. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Haha! So nice to hear, Flo! My roots are fretless. This was me on a fretless in the nineties, in my first band:

     
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  16. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Very cool band, Marco!
     
  17. Henrythe8

    Henrythe8 Dolphin Hoarder

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    I'm waaaaaayy too late on this thread, and i was going to say... What you said. Higher action on Fretless makes it sings better, it's an advice I had from Felix Pastorius.
    Bach is great as it involves some left hand positioning you keep along the neck, so it definetely helps going up and down. And if you love the fretless, it'll be okay :)
    I'm not too good to play it, not having a great ear. But i just lloooooooOOOOve sliding harmonics on the fretless.
     
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  18. Stainless

    Stainless

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    Nice :)
     
  19. Henrythe8

    Henrythe8 Dolphin Hoarder

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    I see you slappin' and tappin' on a Fretless. :)
     
  20. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    It just sounds different. Low action sounds nice too, higher action starts to sound a bit dull, there is a sweet spot, and I suppose it is about the player. I am having a 3.5 mm now, and it feels great. Like the action is a fine tuning for sound, between flat and mwah, and you set it by taste :)

    About the ear, I don't have a great ear myself. And I don't think you really need a very good trained ear to play fretless, it is not about the note itself, it is about how to be in tune with the band. That's easy, we all can do it. You kinda fine tune every note until it is muscle memory. The best advice I got was "just do it, and trust in you" or something... :)
     
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