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Unread 04-21-2005, 04:11 PM   #1
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fretless vs. frets

whats the difference? is one better than the other? how hard is it to switch from frets to fretless?

yeah.. um... anything about the difference, and why someone would want to play without frets instead of with them...

thanks guys

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Unread 04-21-2005, 04:51 PM   #2
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The difference? Um... one has frets and one doesn't...

Seriously though, with a fretless you're going to have flatwound strings which are easy to adapt to for most people. Second, you don't always have fret lines to show where to place your fingers.

Is one better than the other?

Certinly not. Mamy bassists have had careers with both. You can acheive sounds with a fretless that you can't acheive with a fretted bass and vise-versa. Most people don't play fretless basses because they're very tough to play correctly. You have to play right on where the fret would be or your note will be out of pitch.

How hard is it to switch?

Pretty tough at first, but you'll get used to pretty quick.

Why would someone want to play a fretless?

One word. MWAH
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Unread 04-21-2005, 05:16 PM   #3
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As far as fretless basses go, I'm really interested in learning how to play an acoustic bass. It's too bad that the learning curve is extreme: it's both fretless and harder to play due to its bulk and short-access neck. They're also freaking expensive.

I love the sound of an acoustic bass, though.
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Unread 04-21-2005, 05:26 PM   #4
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Better? Maybe. Different? Yes.

I just bought a fretless 5 string Warwick Fortress One. I've started to show up only with that bass when I don't have time/patience to bring other stuff.

Mine has no fretlines, but it has side dots at 1,3,5,7,9,12,15,17,19,21,24. It has been pretty painless to get used to, as on the majority of positions, it's either right on a dot or between. I have a friend with a lined fretless, and he actually likes mine better, because the fretlines aren't nearly as bright as frets, and are hard to see in lowlight conditions. Of course, if you get a de-fretted one, you will have fretlines no matter what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beav2k2
...with a fretless you're going to have flatwound strings which are easy to adapt to for most people.
It's not necessarily true that you will have flatwounds on a fretless. There is a lot of debate in the fretless world about this, opinions seem to be split. This topic comes up often in the TalkBass forums. In fact, mine came with Elixir roundwounds.

The roundwounds will give you the sustain for the low end. The flatwounds will give you more mwah on the upper registers, and more thump in the lower: think Chicago version of "I'm a Man". Having said that, I would like roundwounds on my bottom three strings, and flats on the D & G strings.

Mwah is definitely the number one reason to play fretless. I play at church and, even without copious amounts of mwah, I have been able to add some nice touches to communion meditations and other quiet tunes. It needs a setup, which should produce even more mwah, and it will get even better.

Interesting vibrato, gliss, and slur effects are also good reasons. Just don't overuse that gliss - I think it's a $100 fine.

Take a listen to Pino Palladino (Paul Young, Pete Townshend, Don Henley), Mick Karn (Japan) and of course Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report, Joni Mitchel, C Riders), and you will likely be hooked. Oh yeah, don't forget much of Sting on The Police - 'Walking on the Moon', 'O My God' et al.

And don't let anyone scare you off with that 'fretless is really hard' stuff. I did without for 15 years because of that, but once I finally went for it I was up and going and lovin' it in a couple of weeks - and I'm note much of a woodshedder. If you think it's a cool sound, go for it

Lastly, DO NOT go for one of the Carlo Robelli jobs at Sam Ash. They got no dots, no fretlines, nothin'. That would be hard. You can find a used one on Ebay or Guitar Center cheap enough.

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Unread 04-21-2005, 06:27 PM   #5
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Fretless has an awesome sound to it, but it doesnt work in all situations.
Example? Most punk bands dont have a bassist using a fretless bass.

They are wicked fun to play tho, and if you use them right can make a good track a killer.

Things you have to know:
1) If it has fretmarkers you play ON the marker, not inbetween two.
2) It takes more stregnth.
3) They rock

For #2 - The reason it takes more stregnth is because you have to make sure to stick the note - you cant be wobbling around, or it sounds bad. Unless thats what you are going for. In which case it's cool.
Pick up a fretless and you will see what I'm talkin' 'bout.

I wouldnt buy one with lines tho, just because I hate the look. Dots are helpful tho.
If you have one with nothing on it (which looks awesome, BTW) do the following:
1) Don't panic.
2) Buy sticky tack.
3) Buy tuner.
4) Tune bottom string to E.
5) Mess around where you think the 3rd fret should be. Use the tuner to find the "G"
6) When you have a perfect G put some sticky tack on the top of the board (flat, so others cant see it)
7) Repeat for the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, ect frets

Then once you get it down remove the sticky tack and wash down the board. You now rule.

Shredchetter - I think you mean stand up bass . Not acoustic
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Unread 04-21-2005, 06:41 PM   #6
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Most newer low-to-middle end electric basses will have some sort of fret marker. My friend who plays bass in my band converted his bass to a fretless. It doesn't take all too long to get used to the feel. As for stand-up bass violins, I always like to experiment in playing those. I'm getting pretty good with intonation the more I play my school's basses.
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Unread 04-21-2005, 07:27 PM   #7
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I have both. Fretless has a unique sound and feel. I love to play it. I defretted my old bass, which is probably one of the most benificial things ive done.
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Unread 04-21-2005, 08:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micahball
I wouldnt buy one with lines tho, just because I hate the look. Dots are helpful tho.
If you have one with nothing on it (which looks awesome, BTW) do the following:
1) Don't panic.
2) Buy sticky tack.
3) Buy tuner.
4) Tune bottom string to E.
5) Mess around where you think the 3rd fret should be. Use the tuner to find the "G"
6) When you have a perfect G put some sticky tack on the top of the board (flat, so others cant see it)
7) Repeat for the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, ect frets

Then once you get it down remove the sticky tack and wash down the board. You now rule.
What works better is using thin strips of masking tape. where the notes are and then you just play and eventually the masking tape will wear off and thats when you know you play in tune all the time. Thats the way I was taught cello and before I stopped playing cello I could hit the right note even if it was my first note without looking. Plus it is a little more accurate than sticky tack
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Unread 04-21-2005, 08:49 PM   #9
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Good idea.
I thought of that, but wasnt sure what wouldnt come off
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Unread 04-22-2005, 04:11 AM   #10
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Personally, i use fretless bass on Everything!!! Punk, Funk, Jazz, Country, Pop,Rock, Heavy Metal,R&B, You name it, it's allllll good!!!
I use the roundwound strings cause it gets a fuller sound, and has that low end growl like a Good Upright bass!!! I especially like the way slapping comes across on a fretless!!! If Ya ever want a great example of how fretless bass can really make a song shine, check out Pino Palladino on Joan Armatrading's songs!!! That guy's Touch, Feel, Note Choice, and Phrasing is second to NONE!!! Actually, if Yer into Pete Townsend, check out his song Give Blood!!! That's the first song i'd ever heard Pino on, and i was Immediately Hooked!!!
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Unread 04-22-2005, 12:54 PM   #11
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what is mwah?
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Unread 04-22-2005, 07:45 PM   #12
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Thats kinda how the sound produced is like.

I want a fretless, maybe my next SX - 5 string fretless, unless Rondo decides to stock the SX Musicman copies...
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Unread 04-22-2005, 08:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by classicgtrfreak
what is mwah?
Yes, that's what most people call the classic fretless sound.

Have you ever heard any Jaco Pastorius? He's the best place to not only hear mwah, but be blown away by his playing. Pick up either Weather Report's 'Heavy Weather' or Joni Mitchell's "Shadows and Light".

Yeah, it's old stuff, but I guarantee, if you like bass guitar, it won't be boring. Listen to the bass parts, and hear the original stuff that many modern bass players have now incorporated into their styles. And some that just about nobdody can do still.

All this on an old Jazz that he defretted while riding on the tourbus when he was 18 or so.

But I digress. If you can't abide music quite that old, or jazz makes you ralph, try 'Boys of Summer' by Don Henley. Pino Palladino played on that one.

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Unread 04-22-2005, 11:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shredcheddar
As far as fretless basses go, I'm really interested in learning how to play an acoustic bass. It's too bad that the learning curve is extreme: it's both fretless and harder to play due to its bulk and short-access neck. They're also freaking expensive.

I love the sound of an acoustic bass, though.
You mean an upright bass, right? An acoustic bass is way different than an upright. I just played an upright last weekend and it was hard to play. Actually, extremely hard to play. I couldn't get used to it fast.

Frettless sounds smoother, but I'll stick to a fretted any day.
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Unread 04-23-2005, 12:35 AM   #15
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I've got a fretless and a fretted. I played fretless only for about two and a half years. I recently bought a nice fretted, and now I'm playing it probably 90% of the time. I occasionally bring both, but usually I pick and choose based on what kind of music I'll be playing.

Oh, and I'm a roundwound on fretless guy (on a non-coated neck). Since it's no longer my main bass though, I may put some flats on it soon.

And yes, the Double Bass is really a completely different instrument. What you know from Bass Guitar doesn't really translate to the DB (with a few exceptions).
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