Études Au Bass Electrique

One night in 2002 I turned on the Mac, fired up Pro Tools (and had a little red wine) and this is what I came up with. Some fun little snippets of sound, some real short, some longer. All in all there's some interesting, all impromptu sounds here.

I call them Etudes, as they are little studies that I explain in the text below. I talk about the picking of the strings, the use of the seperate pickups, the functions of the right and left hands, and how these affect the sound that one gets from the instrument.

All sounds are on my Fender Jazz fretless bass, and on the the first four tracks I play along with Keith's beat box. There's a little stereo chorus and reverb with outboard effects boxes. No fancy Pro Tools tricks either, with the exception of the Backwards stuff which I really dug a lot. I hope you enjoy them. CD

Longer clips

Bass -n- Drums Slap 1
A slow shuffle and and some slappy funk in E minor. I use both pick-ups (bridge and neck) at full volume to get that classic Fender Jazz funky slap tone. This is a tone you don't hear that often on a fretless, as slapping with the thumb, hammer-ons and pull-offs are not commonly used on a fretless bass. It's different in that you don't get the real crispy slap tone with the strings bouncing off of the metal frets, but this still works. I like the sound.

Bass -n- Drums in G
A little faster and a smoother line in G, then moving up to A. Strummed directly over the bridge pick-ups for a softer sound. Again, using both pick-ups at full volume.

Bass -n- Drums Slap 2
A straight 8th's beat and slapping again in E minor up to A7. Starts out with drums, some harmonics.

Bass -n- Drums Strum
Straight 8th's and strumming in F7 and then into D7. Here I use the neck pick-ups only. This sound is closer to the classic Fender Precision sound, as the P-Bass has neck pick-ups only, positioned similarly to the neck pick-ups on the Jazz bass. The strings are strummed by the right hand directly over the neck pick-ups which gives a rounder tone with more low end.

C# - E
Starts in C# minor and then some goofing around in E major. Here I use the bridge pick-ups only. Listen to the difference in tone between the two. Also, the strings are strummed by the right hand nearer to the bridge to gain speed and give more poignant tone with less low end.

Fun with digital delay, harmonics and octaves. Using the tap of the delay gives the impression of very fast bass work.

Funky slapping in E minor, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Harmonics using the bridge pick-ups only. The bridge pick-ups are better for harmonics as the strings are actually vibrating physically less than over the neck. This allows for different tones as well.

I like the sound of this cut which uses both pick-ups which gives such a different sound then the more typical use of the bridge pick-ups. Also, the fretless bass allows for much more expressiveness than the fretted bass.

This ballad uses the bridge pick-ups exclusively for that more typical fretless sound. I play around with the treble settings during the cut to vary the sound. Some harmonics at the end.

Short clips

Small clip of just the hammer-ons and pull-offs from the E-slap cut. Jean-Luc showed me this trick in Paris, 1999.

Harmonics C major

Harmonics E major

Harmonics E minor
Three little clips of harmonics in the respective keys.

Lick: E fast
A fast lick strummed in E minor.

Lick: E slap
A lick slapped in E minor.

Lick: Octave
Funky lick in octaves.

Slap and slide.

Backwards clips

Backwards 1

Backwards 2
Different parts of the E-slap clip ran backwards. It's really neat to hear what happens in reverse, as the attack of the slap or harmonics comes at the end of the sound, with the climax of the tone happening at the very end.

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