18 Fretless Questions: Jeroen Thesseling
1. FB: At what age did you start playing fretless bass, and how long have you been playing?
Jeroen Thesseling: I started studying electric bass around 1985 and played a fretless six-string bass at the age of 22, back in 1994. So, I have been playing fretless for 13 years.
2. FB: What influenced you to play fretless?
Jeroen Thesseling: In first instance it was the typical sound of the instrument that attracted me to play fretless. Later on microtonal music and world music influenced me by playing notes outside the 12-note equal temperament.
3. FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Jeroen Thesseling: I have been studying bass guitar at the conservatory in Enschede, the Netherlands. As a fretless bassist Iâ€™m completely self-taught.
4. FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences?
Jeroen Thesseling: Carles Benavent has been definitely the most important influence as far as sound on fretless bass. Also Nicolas Fiszman playing on Trilok Gurtuâ€™s album â€˜Living Magicâ€™ has been an influence. Further I am particularly interested in Arabic and Moorish influenced music. Especially Arabic music has a sound that I relate to with the fretless bass.
5. FB: Who is your favorite fretless bass player and why?
Jeroen Thesseling: Carles Benavent, most definitely, because of his intense bass sound and his style in general.
6. FB: Do you play Stand-up, acoustic, electric, or all? Which do you prefer?
Jeroen Thesseling: Since 1985 I have been playing electric bass only.
7. FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it?
Jeroen Thesseling: My first fretless bass was a second-hand six-string Warwick Thumb with an ebony fingerboard, which was built in 1991. Iâ€™m still the owner.
8. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass you’ve ever played?
Jeroen Thesseling: Iâ€™m still in love with the Warwick Thumb bass.
9. FB: What fretless basses have you owned, which do you still own?
Jeroen Thesseling: A Warwick Thumb 6-string fretless neck-through (built in 1993) with wenge neck and coromandel fingerboard, a Warwick Thumb 6-string fretless neck-through (built in 1991) with wenge neck and ebony fingerboard, and a Warwick Thumb 6-string fretless neck-through (built in 1990) with wenge neck and pallisander (rosewood) fingerboard. I still own these instruments.
10. FB: What types of strings and fingerboard combinations do you like?
Jeroen Thesseling: I like to combine round wound Warwick Black Label strings (Medium) with a coromandel fingerboard. Since the Thumb bass consists out of hard woods (bubinga body and wenge/bubinga neck) I prefer to use a softer wood for the fingerboard. Coromandel is a member of the ebony family; it’s just a bit softer than the regular ebony wood and therefore sounds warmer.
11. FB: What playing styles do you use – finger, thumb, or pick (or other)? What do you like about those styles?
Jeroen Thesseling: I have always been a finger player, using the index and middle finger. For me itâ€™s the most effective technique to control the tone of the instrument. Besides that I really love to hear the punch of the fingers on the strings.
12. FB: What bands/projects have you played fretless bass in/on (list as many as you like)?
Jeroen Thesseling: El Periquin y Grupo (tour), Ensemble Salazhar (studio), and over the years in many other projects.
13. FB: What is your favorite song you played fretless bass on (studio or live)?
Jeroen Thesseling: The song â€˜Dreamsâ€™ of Ensemble Salazhar (studio).
14. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass riff you’ve written (if different from above)?
Jeroen Thesseling: I canâ€™t tell.
15. FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?
Jeroen Thesseling: I have no idea. Perhaps the microtonal experiences have influenced my expression.
16. FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?
Jeroen Thesseling: Yes, all the time. I havenâ€™t touched my fretted bass for many years.
17. FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?
Jeroen Thesseling: Development of your intonation is extremely important. Do not limit yourself; thereâ€™s a lot to discover outside the 12-tone equal temperament.
18. FB: Do you have a web site address you would like to share?
Jeroen Thesseling: Thank you. The address of my web site is www.jeroenthesseling.com.
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