Tips for the beginning fretless player
From: Brian Batey
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 1996 08:51:58 -0500 (CDT)
I've been playing fretless bass for about 7 months now, and have been able to
bring my intonation up to a usable level for most music. I do still have
some serious limitations, like reading a complex chart and playing, but hey;
Rome wasn't built in a day! Here are my suggestions for practicing:
Also, be aware of what I call INTONATION HAZARDS. These will make playing in
tune MUCH more difficult, if not virtually impossible at times.
- Get Steve Bailey's 'Fretless Bass' book. This book is invaluable, and
addresses intonation for the entire first half.
- Quit shedding on fretted, for the most part at least. I have split my
practising into things that I can do and concentrate on my intonation, and
things that I must practice fretted. Find this distinction for yourself.
- Practice in the DARK! No lights! No tuner! No nothing. Learn to keep
yourself in tune without your eyes, by using open strings. This applies
hearing the root, as well as the root, 3, and 5, which for me are the easiest
intervals to hear.
- Relax when you play. The first few times that I gigged with my
fretless, I concentrated so much on my intonation, that I lost sight of
the finer points of my normal playing. This can get you into trouble, and
take all the fun out of playing fretless. Remember NOONE GETS EVERY NOTE
RIGHT!! Just learn to hear it, and to fix it FAST.
I hope this helps. Fretless is a definately the most challenging instrument
that I've every tried to tackle, but I'm becoming addicted. I feel that
fretless really speaks from the soul of the player.
blessings to all
- Church Pianos. Need I say more? Some of them are hienously out of
tune, and it can be virtually impossible for you to reconcile their badly
tempered pitches with a guitar player who's tuned to 440!
- Conflicting Choruses. If you use a chorus, be aware of any guitar
players using them, or any keyboard players using a Leslie effect. If you
clash (i.e. get out of phase) with any or all of them, finding a pitch will
be very difficult. If this happens, TURN YOURS OFF!! I can assure you that
the guitar/keyboard player won't, and guess who get the blame!
- Wide Choruses. Sometimes a guitarist will use a chorus with such a wide
sweep, that it detunes his/her pitch so badly that it's very difficult to
find the correct note in there. Ask him/her to thin it out some. If they
cop an attitude on you, speak to the director. We all have to work together.
- Bad monitors. You can't set pitch with a conga player!! Make sure
that you can hear BOTH the guitars and keys, so that you can reconcile
pitch with both of them and hear the aforementioned problems if they
arise. Make sure that you have plenty of highs and high mids in your
signal so that your pitch is clear, both to you and to everyone else
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