Doing the lessons on a fretless

Since I briefly dropped out a couple weeks ago, I decided to roll back a bit, and I’m now redoing lessons using the fretless… and also practicing Billie on the fretless. I find that, if I can do a workout on the fretless, doing the same workout on the fretted bass suddenly seems a lot easier. Auntie Billie is a nice example: if you can get your pinky close enough to the fret, that’s “close enough”, but on the fretless, “close enough” doesn’t cut it.

Of course, most of the music Josh has us play sounds very weird when played on a fretless (I’m still waiting for the lesson where he teaches us to play So What), but it’s the practice that counts for me.

To those of you who have access to a fretless bass: are any of you actually taking lessons and playing workouts using your fretless bass?


I’m done with the B2B course, but I have and still am taking several courses from Mark Smith over at The most demanding course is the Sight Reading course, which demands hours of practice reading musical notation from sheets while playing without looking down at the instrument. I find that the fretless is much more forgiving if a fretting finger lands slightly off. On the fretted, if I don’t fret in the right spot, it makes weird noises.
Now that I have my fretless 5 string, I rarely practice with the fretted 5 string. If I was to do the B2B course again, I’d do it Fretless.


I think the fretless being more forgiving depends…

Sure, if you are a bit off, you won’t get fret buzz, but the note will not be the pitch it should be. If it is a busy song then you might not notice, but being a bit flat or sharp here and there is more likely on a fretless than a fretted.

I learned initially on a fretless and find the fretted quite a bit easier.


I came here to say what @JT says…
Nothing (including a wee bit of string buzz) upsets me more than accidentally being a bit out of tune.


@JT and @peterhuppertz good points, and quite true. There are pros and cons to both fretted and fretless. I’d say fretted IS easier by virtue of the larger target between the frets, whereas fretless has a smaller target, thus requires more precision . The advantage to fretless is the ability to make minor adjustments on the fly when the tone sounds a bit sharp or flat, or to create interesting effects.