18 Fretless Questions: Alain Caron
1. FB: At what age did you start playing fretless bass, and how long have you been playing?
Alain Caron: When I was 14 years old, playing in a top 40 band, a friend of mine had a LANCER fretless bass that I played for a few weeks, but I went back to my fretted precision bass, the sound was more appropriate for the style of music we were playing. About a year or two later, I heard Alfonso Johnson and then Jaco, both on fretless, I took the frets off my precision bass right away and I’ve been playing mainly fretless since. I’m 51 years old, I started playing bass when I was 12 years old.
2. FB: What influenced you to play fretless?
Alain Caron: It was a closer sound to an upright bass, I was listening to Ray Brown and Scot LaFaro all the time.
3. FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Alain Caron: I’m basically self-taught, although I took some private lessons and went to Berkley College of Music in Boston in 1979.
4. FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences?
Alain Caron: Obviously Jaco, but I stop listening to him for a long time to avoid being influenced, I wanted to develop my own voice!…
5. FB: Who is your favorite fretless bass player and why?
Alain Caron: Jaco for his overall musicality and all the doors he opened for us.
6. FB: Do you play Stand-up, acoustic, electric, or all? Which do you prefer?Alain Caron: Yes, I play upright, six string fretless and fretted. I prefer the fretless for its singing quality.
7. FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it?
Alain Caron: A fender Precision, I don’t have it anymore.
8. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass you’ve ever played?
Alain Caron: The “F” bass Alain Caron signature six string.
9. FB: What fretless basses have you owned, which do you still own?
Alain Caron: I had a Fender Precision and a Jazz bass, Music Man, different copies of Jazz Bass, Leduc, MF and F Basses. I still have one Leduc, two MF and many F basses.
10. FB: What types of strings and fingerboard combinations do you like?
Alain Caron: I use LaBella Super Step and mahogany finger board.
11. FB: What playing styles do you use – finger, thumb, or pick (or other)? What do you like about those styles?
Alain Caron: I use the finger style on fretless and upright using three fingers (index, middle and ring) and a slap technique that I develop over the years using my thump up and down and my index and middle finger.
12. FB: What bands/projects have you played fretless bass in/on (list as many as you like)?
Alain Caron: With the Group UZEB on 10 CD’s and one DVD, Frank Gambale and Otmaro Ruiz on “Natural High”, Didier Lockwood and Jean-Marie Ecay on “CARON-ECAY-LOCKWOOD”, Leni Stern on “Ten Songs” and “Like One”, Hilario Duran on “Francisco’s Song” and my own band on seven CD’s and one DVD. Different live recording for radio and TV broadcast with the WDR Big Bnad, Mike Stern, Billy Cobham and Gino Vannelli. And many different studio sessions.
13. FB: What is your favorite song you played fretless bass on (studio or live)?
Alain Caron: I can’t tell!..
14. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass riff you’ve written (if different from above)?
Alain Caron: Same as above!…
15. FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?
Alain Caron: I have no idea, if you like what I do, maybe you can tell me!…
16. FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?
Alain Caron: The fretless bass is still my main instrument and my voice.
17. FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?
Alain Caron: The intonation, playing in tune is the hard part, pay attention to every note you play.
18. FB: Do you have a web site address you would like to share?
Alain Caron: www.alaincaron.com
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