18 Fretless Questions: Ralf Gauck
1. FB: At what age did you start playing fretless bass, and how long have you been playing?
Ralf Gauck: I started late to play the fretless bass. My first bass was a Warwick Corvette bass, at the age of 25, I still play it and it’s a wonderul instrument. The first fretless bass was a Magnus acoustic bass guitar.
2. FB: What influenced you to play fretless?
Ralf Gauck: Charly Haden – he was my first love of bass players.
3. FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Ralf Gauck: I studied Jazz Guitar at the Conservatorium Hilversum / Netherland and later I had lessons at the University of Miami by Randall Dollahon.
4. FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences?
Ralf Gauck: My influences are very different. It’s still Charly Haden, Danny Thompson, Arild Anderson, Jaco, Pat Metheny, Sting, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Johann Sebastian Bach, Keith Jarrett, E.S.T., Claus Boesser-Ferrari, Sandor Szabor! I’m not only listening for bass players. I love the music and everthing that has a strong melodic touch and an acoustic part in it. The music of my favorite players has to tell me a story this has to be unique to this person.
5. FB: Who is your favorite fretless bass player and why?
Ralf Gauck: Everyone who tells me a musical story is the one I love!
6. FB: Do you play Stand-up, acoustic, electric, or all? Which do you prefer?Ralf Gauck: I play my acoustic fretless-bass guitar that was built by Christian Stoll and my Warwick Corvett Bass.
7. FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it?
Ralf Gauck: The first one was an acoustic fretless-bass guitar by Magnus Krempel, which I still own. But I don’t use it any more.
8. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass you’ve ever played?
Ralf Gauck: It’s the Stoll bass, I talked about before. The sound is very unique and it’s easy to handle.
9. FB: What fretless basses have you owned, which do you still own?
Ralf Gauck: The Magnus Krempel bass and the Stoll bass and I still own these instruments.
10. FB: What types of strings and fingerboard combinations do you like?
Ralf Gauck: I’m endorsing Galli Black Nylon strings, they are caled G 77.
11. FB: What playing styles do you use – finger, thumb, or pick (or other)? What do you like about those styles?
Ralf Gauck: I use four fingers of my right hand, the thumb, the index-, the middle and the ring finger. This style makes it possible to make a big string crossing and you normally don’t pull the strings so hard. That makes a big different in the tone. If you have a good instrument with good strings and a good amp you find in this way an easier way to handle your equipment and the sound.
12. FB: What bands/projects have you played fretless bass in/on (list as many as you like)?
Ralf Gauck: Chantal, Blue Lines, Herman’s Hermits, Denny Seiwell, Jacques Stotzem, Claus Boesser-Ferrari, Chris Jones, Peter Ratzenbeck, Tony Sheridan, Jan Akkermann, RÃƒ ¼diger Oppermann
13. FB: What is your favorite song you played fretless bass on (studio or live)?
Ralf Gauck: Everything of my new CD “Fields of Gold” with a lot of Sting songs on it, that was redorded in the world famous Rainbow Studios by Jan Erik Kongshaug.
14. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass riff you’ve written (if different from above)?
Ralf Gauck: I have not a favotite one. It depends on my mood. And so the next riff I’m playing is my favorite one.
15. FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?
Ralf Gauck: My right hand technique is a special one and the melodic part of it, combined with a polyphone touch in the playing.
16. FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?
Ralf Gauck: Of course!
17. FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?
Ralf Gauck: First of all don’t play too loud. Watch your ears, you only have these two. And music is to listen, so you need them. Practice every day and listen back to what you did. If you have a chance to record yourself, do it! Practice very slowly and play the notes then in a way that the next note you are going to play is the most important note in the song.
18. FB: Do you have a web site address you would like to share?
Ralf Gauck: Yes, it’s www.ralf-gauck.de – Thank you!!!