Fretless Questions, player bio, photos, videos, music, and more
Fretless Questions: Bakithi Kumalo
FB: How long have you been playing fretless bass?
Bakithi Kumalo: I started at age 26. I have been playing for 24 years.
FB: What influenced you to play fretless?
Bakithi Kumalo: I never heard anyone play fretless before and I bought one because it was the cheapest bass available because no one else wanted to play them.
FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Bakithi Kumalo: I am self-taught.
FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences or favorite players?
Bakithi Kumalo: Later on, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Bailey, Marcus Miller, Mark Eagan, Michael McNeary. Favorite is a split between Marcus and Jaco for their stylings in different ways.
FB: Do you play upright, electric, or both? Which do you prefer?
Bakithi Kumalo: I play and like them all for their different feels.
FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it? Have you had or played others?
Bakithi Kumalo: B20 Washburn 4-String. Yes, I still own it. It is “retired” though, and is a favorite. Others include a “Joe G” 4-String Custom, Modulus Graphite 5-String, Washburn 6-String, B35 5-String Acoustic – still own them all.
FB: What types of strings and fingerboards do you prefer?
Bakithi Kumalo: DR Strings Hi-Beams 45 to 130 Gauge. I like Rosewood Boards or Maple, depending on the given song.
FB: What playing styles do you use?
Bakithi Kumalo: I use fingers for dynamics, tone and quick adjustment, I use thumb for slapping and percussive sounds, and I use African finger-picking as well. I do not use a pick.
FB: What bands or projects feature you playing fretless bass?
Bakithi Kumalo: Most of the many projects I have played on, I have used fretless. Honestly too many to list here.
FB: Do you have a favorite song you played fretless bass on or some notable songs or experiences?
Bakithi Kumalo: “Diamond” from the Paul Simon “Graceland” album, and also “You Can Call Me Al” from that album.
FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?
Bakithi Kumalo: The rhythm and voice I employ of the African continent. I approach the bass as a member of the drum family.
FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?
Bakithi Kumalo: Yes.
FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?
Bakithi Kumalo: Practice, but focus that practice on developing your ears. Fretless is all about your ears and feel.
FB: Do you have websites or social media sites you would like to share?
Bakithi Kumalo: www.boneinthenose.com and www.guruproject.com
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