Last year I got a call to play some bass on some tracks for Records On Ribs artist Talk Less Say More. The plan was to make a record with a decidedly 80s feel, which meant that I got to stretch out and take some risks doing things that I don’t usually do as part of my ‘day job’. I seem to remember the conversation going something like this:
“It’d be great to have some fretless bass. Do you have a fretless bass?”
“Oh ok… Do you play fretless at all?”
“Sorry, I’ve never played fretless…”
“Ok no problem, we’ll hire you a fretless. It’ll be fine.”
In almost 15 years of playing this was the first time I’d had someone ask for fretless. So, the night before the session I take delivery of an unlined Fender P/J and do my best to get my fingers (and ears) around it.
On the day I tried to channel the spirit of Pino Palladino/Jaco/Bakithi Kumalo and other fretless players that I’d grown up listening to. Here’s how some of it turned out:
So, did the experience persuade me to take the plunge and go fretless? In a word, no.
In spite of the fact that I really enjoyed the session I don’t feel that fretless fits with my ‘voice’ as a bassist – although I’m heavily influenced by fretless players I’m sure if I made the switch then I’d end up sounding even more like a sub-par Jaco or Pino clone.