Author Topic: Fretless Bass (for ambient)  (Read 2568 times)

petekelly

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Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« 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:



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 :)

Castleview

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 02:37:32 PM »
Nice. I've thought about getting a bass at some point myself.
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jkn

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #2 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.
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Seren

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 03:50:20 AM »
Hi Pete - nice looking bass, you should really enjoy coaxing sounds out of it.



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

can be heard on:
http://serenffordd.bandcamp.com/album/strands-v

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #4 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.
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

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Seren

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2016, 06:00:06 AM »
you may find investing in one of these helpful:

petekelly

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #6 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:



jkn

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #7 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.)

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Seren

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #8 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.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #9 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?

               
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 11:41:23 AM by Julio Di Benedetto »
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com

petekelly

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #10 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'. 

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #11 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. 




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




Talk about using different tunings on this one

"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com

petekelly

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #12 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.

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #13 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.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2017, 04:29:29 PM by Julio Di Benedetto »
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2018, 06:33:07 PM »
My first pedal




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.




APK warned me about pedals......I fear the void that my Eurorack emancipation has created could perhaps be filled by pedals. :)
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley

http://digitalvoices.bandcamp.com/
http://databloem.com

petekelly

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Re: Fretless Bass (for ambient)
« Reply #15 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.