The use of electric bass guitars in the 1950s has mainly been for the purpose of replacing the sounds produced by the double bass which has that acoustic feel and sound popularly evoked in jazz, funk and RandB genres. Whereas the double bass is undeniably large and is played upright, an electric bass guitar can be played in the exact manner as a standard guitar since their respective size is comparable. Achieving this double bass sound is done by plucking the strings using ones bare fingers, and not by employing the use of a pick or plectrum. The note created using this technique makes electric bass guitar a popular instrument in various music styles.
The Fretless Advantage
Through the years, creating an acoustic double bass impression has gained more following with the introduction of various fretless models of electric bass guitars in the market. For those who are not in the know, frets are those raised metal strips normally found on the neck of a stringed instrument such as a standard electric guitar. A fretless electric bass allows notes to slide much more smoothly than a usual fretted instrument would and gives the bass player more freedom and musicality to glide through the notes. This, in essence, makes the instrument more capable of handling music of wider variety.
The Downside Of Going Unconventional
Despite the considerable increase in its number of followings, fretless guitars continue to be an exception. For one, an unskilled player may become more susceptible to committing error as the lack of frets increases the difficulty in discerning tonal differences. Another downside of using a fretless guitar is the softer acoustic volume it produces. This problem, however, becomes less evident in an electric bass guitar as the overall tone and pitch can be altered digitally.
It All Depends On The Music
Some type of music demands the double bass sound effect that electric bass guitars produce. If a song requires smoother, damped and low-range frequency, going fretless is the way to go. Led Zeppelins John Paul Jones used an exclusive fretless bass on In My Time of Dying and got the musical temperament that he wanted. Ultimately, it is up to electric bass guitarists, or any skilled guitarist for that matter, to decide on whether a fretless or a conventional fretted guitar could help them pull off a mean style of funk, RandB or jazz.