[ Hypnos Forum ]

MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Music Gearheads Tech Talk => Topic started by: petekelly on June 19, 2016, 12:01:55 PM

Title: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on June 19, 2016, 12:01:55 PM
I've recently bought a fretless bass. I used to play fretless in a few bands many moons ago and I had the idea of returning to it with a view to exploring some more ambient excursions, than what I used to do with the bass. I like the idea of using instruments not normally associated with ambient.


Here's the one I got:
(http://cdn.growassets.net/user_files/esp/product_images/000/010/478/xlarge.png?1389982402)


It's very nice, I'm left-handed, but I've only ever played right-handed basses, so I can adapt to playing it upside down. It takes some playing though and I intentionally bought one with fret markers !
I had the idea of using it to increase my 'sonic palette' and I am planning a more 'overt' guitar ambient album later this year. I need to knuckle down and play it a lot before I become the next Patrick O' Hearn :)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Castleview on June 19, 2016, 02:37:32 PM
Nice. I've thought about getting a bass at some point myself.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: jkn on June 19, 2016, 03:38:22 PM
Nice looking bass, Pete! 

I have a japanese circa 2000 fretless jazz bass.  Someday it'll find it's way into a tune or two.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Seren on June 20, 2016, 03:50:20 AM
Hi Pete - nice looking bass, you should really enjoy coaxing sounds out of it.

(http://i214.photobucket.com/albums/cc98/SerenFfordd/IMG_1735-1.jpg) (http://s214.photobucket.com/user/SerenFfordd/media/IMG_1735-1.jpg.html)

Here is mine....I find it really nice for making ambient music

can be heard on:
http://serenffordd.bandcamp.com/album/strands-v
(http://f4.bcbits.com/img/a4276477153_2.jpg)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on June 20, 2016, 04:21:10 AM
Thats a good looking bass Pete....beautiful wood.  Loved bass guitar though I dont play.  Rickenbacher are a name I grew up with used in my favorite bands, Rush and Yes.

Interesting adventure to incorporate the playing and sound into ambient compositions.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Seren on June 20, 2016, 06:00:06 AM
you may find investing in one of these helpful:
(http://www.furtadosonline.com/uploads/instrument/1113/134368_1_hofner_cello_bow_alfred_stingl_as26_full_size_octogonal.jpg)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on June 20, 2016, 06:46:45 AM
Thanks for the interest fellers !

Seren, I'II check out your album, we may be thinking on similiar lines. I take it you must be pretty adept to use an umarked (fret markers) fretless ! 

This guy is doing some good things with an ebow and fretless:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib7F30pSiAE
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: jkn on June 20, 2016, 07:58:40 AM
The red one is my fretless.  Love that thing though I do not play it well. 

left to right:  fender jaguar hh guitar, g&l l1000 bass, fender fretless jazz bass, gibson grabber, 1960 gretsch corvette (I permanently loaned that to my nephew.)

(https://assets.ello.co/uploads/asset/attachment/2521953/ello-optimized-7af08755.jpg)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Seren on June 20, 2016, 11:51:42 AM
Seren, I'II check out your album, we may be thinking on similiar lines. I take it you must be pretty adept to use an umarked (fret markers) fretless ! 

Yep - I'm an expert me! ! ! :o - err, no, I play around with it until It's tuned with a sound I like to begin with and then go by ear.....

I've been in the process of moving and only wired up the studio in it's new home over the weekend so yet to get stuck into anything.

I've had to buy a new computer (PC was on last legs) and get new music software (Sonar Artist) as my Sonar 5 would not run on windows 10....

...a salutary lesson for everyone - never throw away your old software discs - sometimes they contain things no longer available (in this instance a Lexicon reverb plug in....) I'm thinking of getting it off ebay to get the reverb back.....

Back to the bass - enjoy and let us know how it goes.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on December 18, 2017, 11:36:30 AM
Hi Pete,

Im actually learning to play bass.....fretted instruments are not easy for old hands!

I remember this post and your ESP LTD bass is a beauty indeed.....now I know what bass it is and the reputation of the Luthier,   You know how I am with gear :) ::)

I have been at it for about 4 months and for me who has for all my life played music by ear am forced now to dive or fall into music theory as teaching the fingers is all about scales, arpeggios, chord tones / modes.  Its pretty amazing and my studies seem to progress with theory more that the practical part of actually playing the bass.
Im enrolled in an online school called Scotts Bass Lessons, a fella from Leeds I think,  I really like how he teaches.  There is a lot out in the WWW.  At some point I will get some hands on teaching with a human.

How this will translate into my ambient music.....in my head I have a good idea.  Just got to get hands to a point where they are able to interpret those ideas.


My Bass story:

The girl who cuts my hair gave me a bass.....she gigs around town and this bass was her first one.  A Korean Samick copy of a Fender Precision bass, very cheaply made but perfect for a beginner.  However I really wanted to learn on a fretless bass.  So I watched a few youtube videos on how to convert a fretted bass to a fretless and pulled the frets out, inlayed black veneer maple as fret markers (Im already regretting doing this, should have gone with natural veneer) sanded it down using the correct gauge sanding block, added some 20 thin coats of super glue and sanded it down to a very hard mirror finish. I had to raise the fretboard up with wood shims as the string saddles could not be lowered enough to compensate for the missing frets.  It is a work in progress and it sounds decent. Sounds like a fretless with some quirks or maybe the quirks belong to the player.  I will get it professional setup so I can remove myself from the equation and down the road perhaps upgrade the pickups, electronics, bridge and hardware....the knobs are hard plastic.

Really enjoying the journey and look forward to eventually adding this palette of sound to my music.

Pete, did you use your bass on any recordings yet?

(https://digitalvoices.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/img_2215.jpg?w=460)        (https://digitalvoices.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/img_2216.jpg?w=460)        (https://digitalvoices.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/img_2218.jpg?w=460)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on December 18, 2017, 01:18:50 PM
Hi Julio,

Great stuff ! That Scott feller looks to be a really good teacher and yes he is from Leeds (I lived there for 20 years, so I recognise the accent !)
In my experience, learning the fretless is pretty hard work - but very rewarding. I think I was playing on mine for a year (or so) before I felt I was getting somewhere. I used to play fretless in a band many moons ago, but like guitar playing, it's a perishable skill. I found that over time, my intonation improved - which (it goes without saying) is pretty fundamental for the fretless.

Hope you get some interesting tones / sounds from yours (Samick's are pretty well regarded, actually) fret markers are certainly a good idea. Personally, I think the fretless is well suited to ambient - especially with an ebow. I used mine extensively on my last album 'Sylvi'. 
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on December 21, 2017, 06:00:41 AM
Hi Pete,

Really loving your album, Sylvi. The textures the fretless gives the music is wonderful. So much more than just holding the bottom end down.  Lots to enjoy and learn, thanks!

Using black fret marks has made it more "challenging" as they are hard to see unless in a bright sunlight room.  Have to use my ears more. 

Good to know that Samick has a decent reputation.  Quite a few boutique bass luthiers are having their more affordable instruments made in Korea and from what I read other small manufacturers can only stay in business because of going overseas with the cost of production so high here in the US.  Korean quality seems to be up there with Japanese.
 

As I recall Eno used bass guitar on Ambient 4, On Land.  Heres a track that has become a part of me over the years. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4rrX4Q95b0


Heres a couple of interest videos of solo bass performances with an ambient sort of feel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VNgSq5osKk


Talk about using different tunings on this one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4Ra2KOyas
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on December 23, 2017, 08:01:24 AM
Thanks very much Julio,
Yes, it was that very Eno album that made me think about the bass / fretless in ambient.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on December 24, 2017, 04:21:28 PM
Here's a good video that highlights the Eventide H9 pedal with Bass.....in this case its a 6 string fretted which seems like part guitar but hey, would love it but I've got my hands full with 4 strings.

How about those ergonomic frets.....The bass is a Dingwall.

Things get much more ambient space in the last half of the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoQvNAnThKU
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on January 08, 2018, 06:33:07 PM
My first pedal

(http://www.theguitarmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Screen-shot-2013-11-28-at-16.43.38.png)


This is what inspired me below, the MXR Digital Delay....what Jaco Pastorius used for his sound.  It is long gone but some of its tone has trickled down to this contemporary pedal.

The Bass Chorus Deluxe on a fretless is magic...I had played the bass through some software ensemble / chorus fx that worked well but this was much more intense and to my surprise noisy, being analog perhaps thats normal for pedals.  The flanger addition is very sweet and with the X over button one can roll off the effect on the low end to keep some of the muddiness off.


(https://reverb-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1506007087/MXR-Digital-Delay_dewtip.jpg)

APK warned me about pedals......I fear the void that my Eurorack emancipation has created could perhaps be filled by pedals. :)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on January 14, 2018, 06:47:45 AM
Looks a good one. Beware though, APK is right, pedals can be very 'collectable' :)
A long time ago, I had 10 or so Boss pedals velcro'd onto a piece of plywood that I used to cart around to gigs / rehearsals - not recommended, in hindsight.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on March 14, 2018, 06:58:34 AM
Got a new bass....Pedulla Rapture Fretless.

I had fun tinkering with the other bass but I sort made it unplayable especially next to this beauty. 

I got it used off Reverb.  Made in 1997.  These pictures are taken from the actual listing.  The fretboard is like a mirror and really enhances that fretless sound.

My bass "education" is moving forward.....discovering the Pentatonic scale has opened up the fretboard for me. and actually playing to my own music has turned practicing into a creative endeavor.  Staying in tune is where a lot of effort is required.

Chords are challenging and a workout on the fretting hand but the sound is amazing on a fretless.  So many underlining harmonics.


(https://images.reverb.com/image/upload/s--9J0q9Snd--/a_exif,c_limit,e_unsharp_mask:80,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_south,h_1600,q_80,w_1600/v1513372302/qruquylyqkvjujhqeb1z.jpg)

(https://images.reverb.com/image/upload/s--14gcJsGO--/a_exif,c_limit,e_unsharp_mask:80,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_south,h_1600,q_80,w_1600/v1513372300/u2o1kibgzfpmg8iluonw.jpg)

(https://images.reverb.com/image/upload/s--JqaOumP4--/a_exif,c_limit,e_unsharp_mask:80,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_south,h_1600,q_80,w_1600/v1513372302/pyp7wcffc8i8cyvturrw.jpg)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on March 16, 2018, 06:52:09 AM
Looks to be a very nice fretless, Julio !
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on April 15, 2018, 10:36:24 PM
All those harmonics.....for me this contains so much....can't play it, perhaps one day, but oh so inspiring.

Nah, just watched it again. No chance to ever come close, but hey, still inspired nevertheless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4a7nol3LMU
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Scott M2 on April 16, 2018, 11:06:44 AM
More harmonics than I could have imagined from a bass!
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on June 29, 2018, 05:53:39 AM
I bought a Tanglewood fretted bass (Warwick copy) some time ago. It was a pretty horrid thing that needed a lot of work to get it to play half decently, including needing six - yes six !, neck shims to have a relatively low action. I decided to de-fret it and make it fretless, in order to get some possible use from it.

The de-fretting went well, taking out minimal chips from the fingerboard, then lots of sanding and filling the fret slots with super glue, which dried a bit oddly and made it look a bit peculiar. however, it did the job and it now plays and sounds really quite good now - even though it still looks pretty 'orrid.

My ESP LTD fretless is still very nice, but it's a struggle for me to play it as it's right handed and I'm a lefty.

(https://i1.wp.com/igneousflame.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/img_2644_4web.jpg?ssl=1&w=450)

I'm planning on having fretless on one of my upcoming projects, which will be primarily ambient 'electro-guitar' :) I'm well behind schedule with that, but it will see the light of day later this year.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on June 30, 2018, 06:04:39 AM
Looks good Pete and if it plays decently than your there.....as a lefty playing a righty bass, what a challenge.  Do you have to reverse the strings on the ESP.  If the Tanglewood does work out than perhaps trade in your ESP LTD for a lefty ESP, these days left hand basses are quite common or so it seems.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on June 30, 2018, 06:15:55 AM
I have had a set of Le Bella Black Nylon strings on my Pedulla fretless for a while now.  It was after I saw the video below and heard the sound that I had to try them.  The bass in the video is a Pedulla six string but the mirror neck finish is the same on my bass....I think it must effect the sound because the the top end is still very clear where the strings are quiet muted compared to round wound or nickel on a fretless.  OF course the main sound is from this fellas hands and how he plays yet there is a quality of sound that my bass shares.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl7gXlZgVJs
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Castleview on July 01, 2018, 09:59:50 AM
Just curious, what's it like playing fretless bass with an ebow versus a guitar?
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on July 01, 2018, 12:08:20 PM
Looks good Pete and if it plays decently than your there.....as a lefty playing a righty bass, what a challenge.  Do you have to reverse the strings on the ESP.  If the Tanglewood does work out than perhaps trade in your ESP LTD for a lefty ESP, these days left hand basses are quite common or so it seems.

Cheers Julio,
I keep the strings right handed. Yes, it's a bit of a challenge !

Just curious, what's it like playing fretless bass with an ebow versus a guitar?

'Castleview'
It's much harder in my view, I may post a video of this. 
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on July 09, 2018, 07:55:46 AM
I've been busy converting a couple of my guitars to fretless.

Here's my Samick / Greg Bennett (now converted to a fretless), guitar. It had a photo effect 'flame maple' top, which I took off. It has just the bare mahogany body showing now, this was a lot of work - I don't think I'd do something similar again ! It has just the one pickup and a tone control as I am planning on using it primarily with the Ebow.


(https://igneousflame.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/dsc076204web.jpg)


Here's a video of me playing an Ebow improv. over a drone on the guitar.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4HMEeG8hEY

Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on July 09, 2018, 05:06:47 PM
Thats wonderful Pete....the guitar looks very sweet with the natural wood.  Damn nice un-fretting job! The fretboard has a bright luster to it, did you refinish it?

Thanks for the video....that ebow really shimmers.  Well played. Sounds amazing. Very cello like in the lows.

Funny, I found a website yesterday about fretless electric guitars, I really hand not heard of an electric fretless guitar before.  I will look for it again and post a link.

Pete, how well does the ebow interact with bass strings compared to guitar.
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on July 10, 2018, 04:55:37 AM
Heres the link on ambient fretless guitar.....seems to have a fair amount of fretted as well ???  http://www.unfretted.com/articles/the-role-of-fretless-guitar-in-ambient-music/ (http://www.unfretted.com/articles/the-role-of-fretless-guitar-in-ambient-music/)   The website itself is dedicated to "unfretted"

Heres 2 musicians from the above article that stand out for me.

https://lucaformentini.bandcamp.com/album/subterraneans (https://lucaformentini.bandcamp.com/album/subterraneans)

https://ericjackson.bandcamp.com/album/turbulent-serenity-reissue (https://ericjackson.bandcamp.com/album/turbulent-serenity-reissue)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: petekelly on July 10, 2018, 08:52:21 AM
Thats wonderful Pete....the guitar looks very sweet with the natural wood.  Damn nice un-fretting job! The fretboard has a bright luster to it, did you refinish it?

Thanks for the video....that ebow really shimmers.  Well played. Sounds amazing. Very cello like in the lows.

Funny, I found a website yesterday about fretless electric guitars, I really hand not heard of an electric fretless guitar before.  I will look for it again and post a link.

Pete, how well does the ebow interact with bass strings compared to guitar.

Cheers Julio !

I bought a dedicated fret pulling tool, which took the frets our pretty cleanly, then five coats (or so) of super glue, then a radiused sanding block to sand down the super glue flat (going through a few grit grades of wet and dry). Lastly, a rub down with a polishing compound. It's not perfect (I think the neck may be slightly warped), but it's pretty good. I've been buying quite a few guitars recently and have realised that proper tools really do make things easier - nut files / levelling files etc. It's quite a bit of work, but i enjoy changing pickups etc. and getting the guitars to be as playable as I can. I would imagine reconditioning / upkeeping vintage synths is a bigger task !

On the playing side, yes an ebow does have a cello-like tone in the lower registers, - particularly with a wide vibrato. I find it's a great combination with fretless guitar. On a fretless bass, I find it difficult to get any string other than the G string to 'ring out' with the ebow. Regarding non-ebow playing, fretless guitar doesn't sustain like a regular guitar and playing with spot on intonation gets tricky (particularly higher up the fingerboard) All round, I find it's a challenge to play, but interesting nonetheless, particularly as a 'pseudo-slide' guitar without all the nasty slides noises :)

Will check out those links too.

Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on July 21, 2018, 05:13:30 AM

I have been using this pedal for several months now.....Fairfield Circuitry's Shallow Water.  A very different take on a chorus pedal.  The video goes into detail but basically it use random modulation instead of a the more traditional method which takes the fretless bass into fascinating sonic areas 
(https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0234/8231/products/shopifyKFM_1024x1024.jpg?v=1516049320)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnLtB4va7Q0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnLtB4va7Q0)
Title: Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on October 28, 2018, 09:23:11 PM
It ain't ambient but OMG....Abe Laboriel, I remember his classic work with Steely Dan way back.  Never heard of the Luthier.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPSriFxA6r0