Bass Number 3 – Godin A4 Fretless

I’m one to frequent the music stores.  I also tend to try to go to lots of different stores.  One reason for this is so that I get to see lot of different instruments.  The other reason is because I’m afraid that the salespeople will think I’m nuts because I’m always hanging around.

The reality is likely quite different.  I find that a lot of these sale-guys are really very nice and they like nothing better than to hang around and talk about basses.  At one store the regular bass-clerk loves to show me what’s new and cool in his inventory.

A while back I kept seeing the Godin A4 fretless bass hanging on the walls at a few different stores.  I’d always loved the sound of fretless bass but was a bit intimidated by the prospect of unwittingly playing slightly off key.

Eventually I took one down off the wall and sat on an amp and started playing it.   Not plugged into an amp right away.  I wouldn’t want anyone to hear me.  But when I started playing it, I realized I didn’t need an amp.  What a beautiful sound!  In a studio one might be tempted just to put a mic in front of the bass and not colour it with electric pickups and bass amps.

The next few times I went to stores, if they had one, I would pull it down and sit and play it and lose track of time.

One time I was sitting on a stool playing and playing and I noticed this Asian gentleman quietly watching.  After a while I smiled at him and he smiled back and said, “You play very well.”  I thanked him and carried on playing.

He may as well have worked for the store.  I realized that I’d pretty much got the hang of playing fretless before I’d got a fretless out of the store.  And now I want one!

For the next while I would think about this bass on and off.  Probably more on.  Eventually I worked out how to get a good down payment and went back to buy one.  It wasn’t until I got home and was showing it off to my spouse that I made the realization it was Valentine’s Day.  I had gone out and bought myself an expensive new toy and didn’t even acknowledge the day to my partner.  Some how we are still together and have to give thanks to her never ending acceptance of my pure self-absorbed-ness.

Anyway, I really love this bass and have learned to play it confidently and have picked up a few tricks that can only be done on a fretless.  My fear of playing off key seems to be mostly unwarranted.  When I have been playing with a band, I will suddenly notice something sounds foul.  I’ve learned that it is likely me, and can get back on track quickly.

One complaint that I’ve heard about this instrument it is easy to have it feedback.  I’ve played it pretty loud and have not had this problem.  Perhaps standing close to your amp and keeping the hi-EQ up would be a problem, but not so far for me.

I have set out to remain positive about everything but I want to say one thing about Godin.  And this comes from the heart of a bassist.

Godin makes many great quality guitars, but they seem to have little interest in their bass products.  I’ve owned two Godin LG’s and have a Simon & Patrick 6-string acoustic.  I really enjoy playing them.  The Godin company produces seven different brands and only within the Godin brand are there any basses.  And there there are only two, the A4/A5 and Freeway.

I emailed Godin and asked them about this and they replied that they were in the process of developing a new bass for 2010.  This has recently been released as the Shifter Bass.  I was so sad to see it.  Only a 4-string.  No 5-string (or more string) options.  And much of it borrows from the Fenders of the 1950’s and 60’s.

I’d really like to find a great Canadian bass that competes with the likes of Warwick or Schecter.  Please!  Please!  Can we have one please!

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