Self-taught... any obvious issues with my playing style? (video)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by basslust, Aug 12, 2013.


  1. basslust

    basslust

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Location:
    Mass
    Ok, so I have been seriously practicing bass for a little over a year and have the fortune of being able to play with other musicians regularly. I try to gain knowledge from those that have been in the game for longer but I don't know personally any well-seasoned bassists who can give me a good critique of my playing style. What I'm most worried about is the angles of my wrists as playing, and I think this video, while short, is sufficient to show what I look like playing. Any other helpful tips or comments about my posture or anything at all for that matter are appreciated. Also, I can post another video tomorrow if anyone wants to see any aspect of my playing closer for further inspection.

    I am trying to not look at the bass when I am playing as you can see in this video. It is something I am conscious of and trying to prevent. Also, as far as timing is concerned, I do practice with a metronome usually but this is done without one, so it is possibly a bit rushed at points.

    Without further ado-- Sly and the Family Stone-- "If You Want Me to Stay" bassline (rudimentary)
  2. Spaldo

    Spaldo

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Ballaarat, Australia
    You got a little bit of Jamerson's hook going on there!

    Good choice of bass for a start (tho' I prefer the passive version). Your wrist angle seems fine, but seems a little on the stiff side. Do you always play standing up? As far as not looking at the board, that's not something you should worry about when you practice. After a while, you'll find you're not looking (esp. if you sing) when you play.
  3. basslust

    basslust

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Location:
    Mass
    Hey, thanks for the quick and helpful reply! I do not always play standing up... It is closer to 50% sitting vs. standing. As for my wrist being on the stiff side, I do feel that is probably the case and am trying to figure out how to keep it most relaxed. As you can see in the video, I have thin wrists and I really need to work on strengthening them. Certain things like long slides just do not feel comfortable when I try them and I think this has to do with the thin wrists. It could also be poor technique.
  4. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Get some lessons.

    You're near Boston?

    I will make a wild guess that there are a few world-class bass teachers to be found.
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  6. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Lowell isn't that close to Boston, but close enough to some great teachers...

    As for your technique, you are using a true floating thumb; no anchoring. While that is a viable technique, look at the video yourself. Your left wrist (assuming that the video isn't somehow reversed in terms of perspective) is bent fairly significantly. That's a risk for carpal tunnel. Personally, I anchor my plucking hand thumb and keep my elbow up and away from the body of the bass to avoid this. I'm not sure how you can get the leverage you need to pluck without anchoring your forearm on the upper bout of the bass body if you use floating thumb. And what this seems to invariably lead to is a bent wrist on the plucking hand.
  7. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    google maps sez: 37 minutes. :eek:

    Living in L.A., 37 minutes is nothing.
  8. huckleberry1

    huckleberry1 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2013
    Location:
    Mesquite, Texas
    Disclosures:
    student
    From what I can see your mostly keeping your left fingers flat on the strings, you want to think of your finger tips as little hammers. this will give you a cleaner sound when playing, use the tips. you should alternate the plucking fingers of your right hand- resist the unconcious urge to use the same finger twice in a row. If nothing else, learn your scales. I can't remember which it was Bach or Beethoven but the quote was " My scales have set me free." Chew on that because scales are everything in the begining.
  9. basslust

    basslust

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Location:
    Mass
    I would like to get lessons at some point, but they are not feasible at the moment, between school, work, and personal finance reasons. I would like to get them someday, but with as much bass as I'm playing nowadays, I'd like to get as much constrictive feedback as soon as possible.

    FretlessMainly, I do see what you are saying about the wrist angle. I do sometimes use the anchor but ironically moved away from it because I felt it was making my wrist bend more. Regardless, I will experiment with it more in the future.

    huckleberry, I actually had a guitarist say the same thing about using the fingertips the other day. I am playing around with it and have found that it works great, but in some positions (closer to the nut), I am slow to figure out how to position my thumb on the back of the neck to give the correct finger arch but not cause the hands to strain. It is something I am definitely trying to change though and apparently completely disregarded while making this video.
  10. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    I'd be willing to bet that you could drive from Lowell to Boston in 37 minutes at 3 AM on a Sunday.

    The key is getting the elbow on your plucking hand up and away from the bass body and using your elbow in a pump-like motion as you cross strings. E and A strings, elbow not so far from the bass body. As you move to D and G, you need to get that elbow up and away so your plucking hand is over the face of the body so you are on top of the strings. Voila - neutral wrist.
  11. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    I checked maps.google.com for a few different times during the day, didn't look to be more than 45 mins.

    Of course, don't go during rush hour. 3 am probably wouldn't be a good time either.
  12. fearceol

    fearceol

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Location:
    Ireland
    He is not actually. Yes, the thumb is floating, but he is resting his forearm on the body of the bass, and the wrist is bent, which can lead to possible injury problems later on. With the FT technique, the wrist is straight. Apart from muting, this is one of the advantages of the FT, i.e. the wrist is straight, therefore you avoid potential physical problems.

    Here is the FT demonstrated.



  13. Jay Q

    Jay Q Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    You look/sound pretty good for someone who's only been playing a year. I think the most important thing to remember is that your hands should be as relaxed as possible at all times. I used to worry a lot about my hand positions, but after a really bad period of carpal tunnel (and multiple doctor visits), I eventually realized my fundamental problem was that my hands were just too tense when I played. I got good at applying as little pressure as possible to get the sound I wanted; lowering my action helped a lot.

    That's not to say your position doesn't matter because it does. But there are some great players with what look like really awkward, uncomfortable positions to me, yet they manage to play for hours on end. Look at Louis Johnson for example. His left thumb wraps around the neck as far down as the D string sometimes -- that seems crazy! But he has no problem doing it because he's totally relaxed. And look at Jaco's right hand. Sometimes he angled it sideways for what I'd consider uncomfortably long periods... but it obviously worked for him :).

    After being lucky enough to take lessons from some great, open-minded players (e.g., Myron Dove, Kai Eckhardt) and eventually seeing lots of players as a teacher myself, I realized that there is no one right way for everyone. Ultimately, you have to find what works for you, and what works for you might not work for someone else, but tense/tight muscles will give problems no matter what position your hands are in.

    Oh, as for not having money for lessons, if you get a good referral and let the teacher know that you're looking for some solid fundamentals that you can apply on your own time, you can end up with a lot of bang for your buck from just one lesson that could carry you for many months.
  14. jblmusic1994

    jblmusic1994

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Location:
    Jackson, Ohio
    If your technique isn't causing you any pain and it is allowing you to achieve your musical goal, then you are doing perfect. I am self-taught as well, and the only time I alter my technique is to achieve a certain sound or manner of execution or if my current technique is causing me pain. I can't watch or listen to the video right now, so I'm not sure if you are already utilizing this technique, but 4 fingers per fret is a good place to start. As well as alternating index and middle fingers for the right hand technique. But, like I said, if you need to achieve a certain sound or need to change up the 4 finger per fret or right hand alternating finger technique, go for it. There is no right or wrong way to play MUSIC.
  15. fearceol

    fearceol

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Location:
    Ireland
    Generally, the advice of "if it does not hurt, it is OK" is excellent. The trouble with the likes of CTS and RSI is that it can take years for the pain to come about. So, while a certain technique may not hurt now, the chances of experiencing problems later on increases if someone persists with a certain action. As we all know, the "R" in RSI stands for "repetitive", so that speaks for itself. So it is futile to correct an issue at an early stage.
  16. basslust

    basslust

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    Location:
    Mass
    Trying to avoid RSI and CTS is exactly what I'm going for. I never had any real pains in my hands until recently. I experience a dull pain in the back of the hands now after a lot of playing in the last weeks and am as of now taking a break from playing until it resolves. When I do not feel the pain anymore, I am going to work on using a more curled finger approach on the fretting hand and try to get what FretlessMainly was describing going with the right hand. I'll post an update video after that.
  17. AndrewFord

    AndrewFord

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Location:
    Los Angeles area
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Line 6, TC Electronics, Yamaha
    Determine whether it is pain from bad technique or just building endurance and strength, I remember pain when I was a beginner from my hands doing things they were not used to
  18. BayStateBass

    BayStateBass

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Location:
    Central Massachusetts
    For a self taught guy, you're doing A-Okay. Your fretting hand seems somewhat awkwardly bent, but you've done something good by using (what appears to be) a good thumb position (you aren't hanging it over the top of the neck like many).

    As far as the "floating thumb", you'll get a lot of different opinions on it. When I went for lessons, I was taught to use a "moveable thumb" technique, which emphasized using the thumb to mute the string above the one being played (physically above, not musically above). I have come under fire for it by other bassists I know, who favor the "anchored thumb" technique and use the forefinger and middle finger for muting. But it's how I learned and it works for me.

    If you are interested in a referral for some technique lessons, let me know. I am friendly with someone in the Gardner area, which would be about a 40 minute drive for you, he's the one who worked with me on my technique and did most of my training. Excellent teacher with the credentials to back it up.

    Overall, you've done good for someone learning on their own.
  19. huckleberry1

    huckleberry1 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2013
    Location:
    Mesquite, Texas
    Disclosures:
    student
    your coming right along, as far as sitting or standing- be consistent on the height of your bass (strap) in bass to body positioning.
  20. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    I . . . :hmm :well, I don't know how to say this but . . . well its just that :( your bass is backwards :rollno: your suppose to hold it like this :bassist:
  21. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    London,NewYork,Paris,Braintree
    Looking good, just take that plucking hands forearm off the top of the bass. The combination of your elbow by tight by your side, forearm on top of the bass, and the height you are overly bending the wrist.
    Easy solution is move the elbow out a bit and allows the forearm to run more along the front of the bass rather than over the top.

    Everything is looking fine, just address the wrist issue as mentioned and keep at it. :)

    If you want a few ideas check out these links and feel free to ask any questions it may raise.

    That Pesky Thumb (pt. 1&2)

    http://youtu.be/OM-rkoy2H8I

    http://youtu.be/WREN22BYGQQ

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