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Re: Is it difficult to change to fretless ?

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Posted by Dave Rawlings on September 11, 2001 at 08:25:34:

In Reply to: Is it difficult to change to fretless ? posted by Magic on September 11, 2001 at 03:37:40:

For what it's worth, here's my thoughts. I started in '69 with a Univox violin body bass (short - 30" scale). Incredible sound with the right amp! When I got out of the Navy and was playing in college, I thought I was ready for fretless. (I had been playing upright in the jazz band too) so I ripped the frets out and filled in the gaps. The bass sounded fine, but I sucked big time! I wasn't ready. I never tried again (after I spent $125 getting it refretted) until about 7 years ago when I stated to build my own basses. I have an original Ampeg/Armstrong clear body bass that I used as a pattern for my first home built. I decided to make it fretless for two reasons; 1. easier than putting in frets and 2. I was ready to try again. This time the timing was right. I never had any problems and it sounded great. I guess I needed the extra years of playing although not everyone is the same. When I make my own, I place the side dots differently than the manufacturers do. Where the first dot is placed between where frets 2 and 3 would be, I place mine right ON the 3rd fret position. The next is right ON the 5th fret position and so on. So if I want to play an A on the E string, I go right for the second dot and there I am. It's a lot easier to judge positions that way. Playing jazz is a blast on the fretless as it opens up a whole new kind of sound and the slides are fun too! It does take some extra practice to get your intonation down but is not out of the grasp of a good player. This is really where practicing your scales pays off. Having another player (piano is great) play along with you will help your ear recognize when you're off pitch. One thing I do is find some charts and play along with the records. You know you're doing well when you can hear only one bass and not two that are slightly out of tune. Good luck, the work will be well worth it. Dave

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