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  1. #1

    Starting with a fretless bass

    I'm looking for advice on starting on a fretless electric bass. I was looking to purchase something like a Standard MIM Fender Jazz Fretless or a Squire. I play a fretted bass every week at church (it stays at church), and I also used to own a fretted bass a number of years ago. I prefer a fretless sound though.

    Any tips for getting started (intonation, etc.)? How long before I would be proficient enough to do pop/rock/country styles?

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  3. #2
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    Try the forums at talkbass.com

  4. #3
    Well I discussed it with my teacher (who plays bass). He didn't think I would have a problem, so I went ahead and purchased it. It's a black Fender standard Jazz Fretless MIM.

    I played it all evening, and it's a lot of fun playing an instrument where you can control the intonation. This is much more fun than a fretted bass, however my fingers are a little sore. I think it will take a few weeks to get some muscle memory, then I should be good to go.

  5. #4
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    Practice slow and with a drone, paying more attention to intonation than anything else. Assuming you're already a solid bass player, you'll probably find your intonation is serviceable in just a few weeks, though it is a life-time project to be sure.

  6. #5
    Thanks dingusmingus,

    I'm an ok bass player, not good enough for jazz. I can see fretless will require a lot more practice.

    I was practicing last night with irealb (Autumn leaves, blues, and ATTYA). I was also practicing using open strings as drones. I can see that open strings should be used a lot to check intonation. If I could come up with a drone app for my android phone I'll be set.

    I think fretless will make me a better listener. That alone will make it a worthwhile use of time. Also, after playing fretless for a while, now my guitar intonation is bothering me, but there is not much I can do about that.

  7. #6
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    Cool. I don't play much bass at all anymore, but it used to be my main thing. I played enough fretless to be competent, but never enough to be awesome. I also never got a great "mwaaaah" tone that I was searching for, a la Pino Paladino, etc.

    Anyway, my main point was that practicing with a drone (or checking against open strings, as you say) helped me a lot, and the learning curve was a little less steep than I first thought it would be.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by danwaineo View Post
    I'm looking for advice on starting on a fretless electric bass. I was looking to purchase something like a Standard MIM Fender Jazz Fretless or a Squire. I play a fretted bass every week at church (it stays at church), and I also used to own a fretted bass a number of years ago. I prefer a fretless sound though.

    Any tips for getting started (intonation, etc.)? How long before I would be proficient enough to do pop/rock/country styles?
    Well, since you already have background in playing fretted bass guitars you might already know where the frets are. However, fretless is a lot more difficult to get the right sound but with practice and discipline, you'll be fine. Once you develop a knack for notes and eventually have a good sense of pitch, fretless bass would definitely be a great choice. To make a great start with fretless bass, make a great start for yourself first.

  9. #8
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    Fretless bass can be a challenge until one gets used to intonation up the neck. I started years ago with a lined fretless bass (Peavey Cirrus), and gave up way too soon. But after selling the bass, I missed the unique tone as well as how it made me a better fretted bassist. So like you, I found an inexpensive Fender fretless Jazz bass. Love it!

    Listen to some of Jaco Pastorious' work. When you get into his music...and into his head musically, you will improve much faster.

    Enjoy your fretless journey!

  10. #9
    Thanks guys. My post was from over two years ago. Since that time I have played two years of fretless and switched to upright about 8 months ago. I've been having a lot of fun with it.
    Last edited by danwaineo; 12-13-2016 at 01:42 PM.

  11. #10
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    Wow, jumping to upright is a much bigger jump than to fretless electric, Congrats! I love to hear about musicians expanding their skills sets, it definitely makes making music more fun, which is the point, right?

  12. #11
    I say don't sweat little intonation issues that arise n general. I mean, that is what makes fretless sound so cool. I argued with my bass player on the only CD I put out about using the fretless bass on it. I gave in as he seemed intent on using it. But now when I listen to it, I see how it totally gave it a very cool / unique overall sound and I like it very much.

  13. #12
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    Not playing in tune is pretty common among jazz double bass players. It's sort of one of those inside jazz jokes.

    Is he good?
    Oh yeah, he's great!
    Cool! Does he play in tune?

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by danwaineo View Post
    Thanks guys. My post was from over two years ago. Since that time I have played two years of fretless and switched to upright about 8 months ago. I've been having a lot of fun with it.
    The best choice !!!

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    The best choice !!!
    Tuba/sousaphone is king of the bass clef instruments.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Tuba/sousaphone is king of the bass clef instruments.
    If you don't have brass knowledge, it is a lack of time, fine instruments, but not the cheapest.

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