A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “fretless bass

Holy crap! Its working on a fretless!

I read this post on Talkbass yesterday about transitioning from a fretted bass to a fretless:

For some reason, it got me thinking. I haven’t moved my fretless down from the wall in at least a year, or even 2 years, except for the few times last summer that the baby pointed at it and said she wants “that guitar” so I let her play with it. I got curious about it, so I brought it down tonight to just dust it off, tune it up and see how it feels since I’ve intimidated myself against trying it out until I’m a better bassist.

My 6-stringers. The fretted is on the left and the fretless on the right.

My 6-stringers. The fretted is on the left and the fretless on the right.

Well, first, it was surprisingly dust-free. Second, all of the strings were a little flat, but not by much, and third: I ran the Cycle of Fourths on the E-string several times and didn’t mess it up!

My fretless is unlined, and has dots on the side for the usual 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets (I haven’t gone much higher than that even on the fretted ones just yet), so I had to orient myself using only those dots on the side and kind of approximate where the notes in-between are. I can’t believe that I was able to do it. This gives me hope that someday, I’ll be able to play something without looking at the neck. 😉

After running the Cycle, I went to my next permutation: playing it and the 5th (Root-5). This was harder. I think that here, I’m reaching a little too high or low on the A-string, when adding in the 5th, but its something I can actively practice until it gets better.

When I first got those basses, I showed them to my friend, Ray, who plays guitar and works in sales for Guitar Center. I remember him telling me that whatever I practice on one, I should practice on the other. I think I ‘ll try that. The feel is a little different. I think these are flatwound strings and the ones on the fretted are roundwound. But, ultimately, its really exciting for me – and I can try sliding into notes too.

Damn. If only I didn’t have work today. It sucks working 6 days a week…

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Steve DiGiorgio (fretless metal bassist)

Death. Testament. Autopsy.  These are bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s in thrash and death metal. Do you know what they all had in common? Steve DiGiorgio on bass. Steve is a whirlwind of a player. He’s known for blazing speed and fretless playing. I’ve combed the internet, and I can’t find video interviews with him anywhere. However, his playing has become an important part of the fabric of metal history. When I think of heavy metal bass, the first person who comes to mind is Steve Harris. However, when I think extreme metal bass, the two players who always top the list for me are Alex Webster and DiGiorgio.

Steve is a blend of schooled and self-taught bassist. Interviews on the internet state that he played different instruments in school, including woodwind and brass, before moving on to stringed instruments. He learned to read standard notation in school as well. He says that when it comes to metal, however, he learned by ear, sitting by the radio and playing to albums.

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Jeroen Paul Thesseling (bassist for Pestilence & Obscura)

Jeroen Paul Thesseling was the bassist for Pestilence when Spheres was recorded. He’s noted for his 5 & 6 string playing and – I recently discovered – fretless as well. He’s actually more known for playing fretless now than fretted. Currently, I believe that he’s playing in both Pestilence and Obscura. Here’s a really nice interview with Thesseling from De Bassist, a Dutch bass magazine with a print/online version that I can’t read. 😦

De Bassist – Jeroen Paul Thesseling interview

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