Terje Gewelt

Terje Gewelt

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Terje Gewelt
Terje Gewelt

18 Fretless Questions: Terje Gewelt

1. FB: At what age did you start playing fretless bass, and how long have you been playing?

Terje Gewelt: I started playing fretless bass guitar at the age of 16. It was my main instrument for 5-6 years. At the age of 21 the doublebass became my main instrument. I did not really play much fretless until I took it up again in 2012.

2. FB: What influenced you to play fretless?

Terje Gewelt: Hearing Jaco Pastorius on the Weather Report album “Black Market” (iTunes, Amazon) in 1976 really turned me on to fretless bass.

3. FB: Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?

Terje Gewelt: I taught myself the basics by listening and playing along with records. Then I studied bass at BIT in LA with Jeff Berlin (81-82) and at Berklee College of Music (83-87). I also took private lessons with Jaco Pastorius in New York (84).

4. FB: Who are your main fretless bass influences?

Terje Gewelt: It has to be Jaco Pastorius. But all the great double bassists in jazz also influenced me.

Terje Gewelt
Terje Gewelt

5. FB: Who is your favorite fretless bass player and why?

Terje Gewelt: Jaco Pastorius, because of his choice of notes, great grooves, musical phrasing, fantastic personal singing bass sound and great intonation.

6. FB: Do you play Stand-up, acoustic, electric, or all? Which do you prefer?

Terje Gewelt: I play all the basses. The upright bass has long been my favorite, but lately the fretless bass guitar has really inspired me to make some new music.

7. FB: What was your very first fretless bass? Do you still own it?

Terje Gewelt: That was a Fender Precision fretless that I bought new in London in 1976. I sold it in 1985.

8. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass you’ve ever played?

Terje Gewelt: That has to be Jaco’s bass. Too bad I had to give it back to him when the lesson was over.

Terje Gewelt
Terje Gewelt

9. FB: What fretless basses have you owned, which do you still own?

Terje Gewelt: I’m really a Fender Jazz guy and I own 2 FJ fretless basses. I bought a Wal fretless bass in 1982 that I liked a lot. I sold it in 1992 and regret that very much. It has my initials (TG) on the head. I would really like to buy it back!

10. FB: What types of strings and fingerboard combinations do you like?

Terje Gewelt: On my fretless I use DR Hi-Beam strings
and I prefer rosewood fingerboards with fretmarks. We have a fantastic bass/guitar technician in Oslo, his name is Robert Tot. He did a great job on my fretless fingerboard. Now it really resonates with a warm and defined sound that fits my music.

11. FB: What playing styles do you use – finger, thumb, or pick (or other)? What do you like about those styles?

Terje Gewelt: I’m a finger player. I feel that using my fingers gives me more control of dynamics, tone variations and phrasing. It’s the sound I like best and the sound that best fits my music.

Terje Gewelt
Terje Gewelt

12. FB: What bands/projects have you played fretless bass in/on (list as many as you like)?

Terje Gewelt: One of the first recordings I played fretless on was with Michael Shrieve on “Stiletto” (RCA 1989) (iTunes, Amazon). Lately I have been playing some fretless bass with John Surman (UK saxophone master). With my “Spindrift” project I only play fretless and on my last trio CD “Steppingstone” I played mostly fretless.

13. FB: What is your favorite song you played fretless bass on (studio or live)?

Terje Gewelt: Hard to pick one song, but I like how my fretless sounds on the tune “Aftermath” from my CD “Spindrift“.

14. FB: What is your favorite fretless bass riff you’ve written (if different from above)?

Terje Gewelt: I don’t know if I can pick out one riff, but I think there is some nice fretless bass on my last 2 CD’s (“Spindrift” and “Steppingstone“).

15. FB: What would you say is unique about your fretless style?

Terje Gewelt: Maybe coming out of the European jazz tradition has given me a bit looser approach to the instrument.

Terje Gewelt
Terje Gewelt

16. FB: Are you still actively playing fretless bass?

Terje Gewelt: Yes, more and more!

17. FB: Do you have any basic advice for bass players looking to take up fretless or those who are currently playing?

Terje Gewelt: Practice scales and arpeggios, and be aware of your intonation. Playing arpeggios in tune on the fretless bass is hard, it’s some of the best practice you can do. Learn harmony and learn to read music. When you practice, always spend some time fooling around with your instrument. You will come up with some stuff that is only yours. Have fun, set goals, be constructive and for inspiration and reference, listen to the bass players that have mastered the instrument. Record yourself. You always think that you sound better than you do. Do not give up!

18. FB: Do you have a web site address you would like to share?

Terje Gewelt: Please visit me at: www.resonant-music.com


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